Xconomy

Xconomy Report: Protecting Online Privacy

By Xconomy.com   |   Friday, December 9, 2011
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Dec. 9, 2011

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Advertisers are watching you. They see your every move. That's why Boston startup Abine is working on software to protect Web users' privacy.
 


CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — When you go online, do you know who’s tracking you? Advertisers want access to your preferences, your social network, your location and your search history. Now, Boston startup Abine is trying to give consumers more control over their personal information. The 2-year-old company makes software that blocks unwanted Web tracking. Its service also removes people from online databases. Abine’s timing is good, as Facebook and other companies are taking a lot of flak over user privacy.

And now for the week’s innovation deals news from A to Z:

- Actifio, a Waltham-based startup working on data backup and protection for big companies, raised $33.5 million in venture funding.

- Weston-based Biogen Idec and Korean conglomerate Samsung are forming a $300 million joint venture to develop low-cost, generic versions of biotech drugs

- Zink Imaging inked a $35 million investment and hired two Polaroid veterans as co-CEOs. The Bedford, Mass.–based company is developing technology for inkless printers that can connect to portable devices.



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The weekly roundup of business, technology and life science news from our partners at Xconomy.com airs every Friday on WGBH 89.7 Boston Public Radio.

Xconomy Report: Treatment For Parkinson's

By Xconomy.com   |   Friday, December 2, 2011
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Dec. 2, 2011

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Michael J. Fox's charity has awarded a local startup funds to improve Parkinson's treatment. (Bryan Adams)


CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Actor Michael J. Fox’s charity foundation awarded a grant to Chelsea, Mass.–based Civitas Therapeutics, a startup working to improve the standard treatment for Parkinson’s disease. Patients usually take the drug, L-Dopa, in pill form, but Civitas is developing a version that they could inhale to get quicker, more precise doses of the medication. The company will test the inhalable drug in a pair of clinical trials over the next year.
 
In other innovation news, Boston-based Retroficiency, a developer of software for measuring the energy impact of commercial building upgrades, raised $3.3 million from venture investors.
 
Cambridge-based MedicalRecords.com is raising half a million dollars to support the development of its website, which connects sellers of electronic medical records software with doctors looking to go digital.
 
And software maker Symantec said it will use location-finding technology from Boston’s Skyhook Wireless in its web service for locating missing laptops and Android tablets and phones. The deal gets Skyhook’s technology into Google’s Android platform despite Skyhook's ongoing lawsuits against the Internet giant.



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The weekly roundup of business, technology and life science news from our partners at Xconomy.com airs every Friday on WGBH 89.7 Boston Public Radio.

Xconomy Report For Nov. 25, 2011

By Xconomy.com   |   Wednesday, November 23, 2011
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Nov. 25, 2011

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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. —  If you’re looking for a way to work off that turkey dinner, you might try RunKeeper. The Boston startup, which helps people track their health and fitness on mobile devices, has raised $10 million from Spark Capital, O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures and Revolution Ventures — the last led by AOL co-founder Steve Case. RunKeeper is an example of something that’s on the rise in Boston: software companies that focus on consumers.

Check in with the WGBH News show Innovation Hub on Dec. 3–4 for a conversation with RunKeeper founder/CEO Jason Jacobs.
 
In other deals news, Littleton-based TeraDiode, which makes high-power lasers for defense and industrial customers, received a $10 million investment; Billerica’s Harvest Automation, a developer of plant-harvesting robots, pulled in $7.8 million. 
 
Our quote of the week captures the current sentiment among biotech investors. Jens Eckstein, head of GlaxoSmithKline’s venture capital arm, said: "It's not only a few venture firms getting out of life sciences, it's a herd!”
 
Meanwhile, the quest to build world-changing companies continues. On December 1 in downtown Boston, scientist and entrepreneur Stephen Wolfram keynotes a special forum called “6 by 6: Six Cities, Six Big Tech Ideas.” You can find out more at xconomy.com/bigideas.

The weekly roundup of business, technology and life science news from our partners at Xconomy.com airs every Friday on WGBH 89.7 Boston Public Radio.

Xconomy Report For Nov. 11, 2011

By Xconomy.com   |   Friday, November 11, 2011
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Nov. 11, 2011

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BOSTON — A 2 1/2-year-old company in Boston is advancing in its quest to make commercial vans and trucks greener and more fuel-efficient. XL Hybrids is building a hybrid electric powertrain that can be installed on either existing vehicles or new ones. Starting in January, the startup will begin pilot-testing cargo vans retrofitted with the system, which promises to reduce fuel consumption and emissions by 20 percent. Come June, a couple dozen such vehicles could be tooling around New England roads.
 
In other innovation news, BestBuy paid $167 million to acquire MindShift Technologies, Waltham-based IT services provider. This move expands Best Buy’s business as it faces increasing competition from e-commerce sites like Amazon.
 
Rhythm Pharmaceuticals, a Boston startup developing experimental obesity and diabetes treatments, hired Keith Gottesdiener, a veteran of the pharmaceutical giant Merck, as its new CEO.
 
Struggling drugmaker AMAG Pharmaceuticals of Lexington saw its stock go up 18 percent on Monday after announcing its CEO’s departure and its plans for reducing operating expenses.

The weekly roundup of business, technology and life science news from our partners at Xconomy.com airs every Friday on WGBH 89.7 Boston Public Radio.

Xconomy Report For Nov. 4, 2011

By Xconomy.com   |   Friday, November 4, 2011
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Nov. 4, 2011



BOSTON — Which of the following publicly traded tech companies is based in the Boston area: Zipcar, Akamai, Constant Contact, iRobot, LogMeIn or Monster.com? The answer is: All of them. Together with fast-growing upstarts such as HubSpot, Gemvara, Kayak, TripAdvisor and Wayfair, such firms are generating a renewed sense that big companies can be built here and can become anchors for talent. Perhaps that’s why Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, who is recruiting at Harvard and MIT on Monday, said that if he were starting now, he would stay in Boston.
 
In other innovation news, a new Cambridge-based company called Tru.ly released its technology for verifying internet users’ real identities and ages online, in an attempt to bar underage viewers from beer websites, online gambling and the like.
 
The Who’s Roger Daltrey, Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and actress Julie Andrews are funding an effort by MIT and Harvard researchers to develop a vibrating gel that would revive damaged vocal cords for singers and throat cancer patients.
 
And a stem cell company called Verastem is attempting to go public at just 15 months old. The Cambridge-based company raised $32 million this July and is targeting $50 million more with the initial public offering.
 
The weekly roundup of business, technology and life science news from our partners at Xconomy.com airs every Friday on WGBH 89.7 Boston Public Radio.

Xconomy Report For Oct. 28, 2011

Tuesday, November 1, 2011
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Oct. 28, 2011

BOSTON — The top story in innovation this week is that Weston-based Biogen Idec met its goals in a second clinical trial of the company's first pill for multiple sclerosis (MS). The neurodegenerative disease affects 400,000 patients in the U.S.; Biogen is the world’s largest MS drugmaker, selling injectable treatments. In the study, Biogen’s pill reduced MS flareups by 44 percent when patients took it twice a day and by 51 percent when they took it three times a day. It’s an important milestone for Biogen, since two of its competitors — Novartis and Acorda Therapeutics — have already gained FDA approval for oral MS treatments.
 
In other news, Bedford-based iRobot, the maker of Roomba vacuum cleaners and military PackBots, reported a strong third-quarter profit but laid off 8 percent of its staff — a total of 55 workers — across Massachusetts, North Carolina and California.
 
MassChallenge, the Boston startup accelerator and business competition, awarded $1 million in prizes among 17 startups. Alkeus Pharmaceuticals, Sanergy and Tinfoil Security led the way with $100,000 each.

More broadly, Bay State companies raised $250 million in venture capital last month. The total for the third quarter was $505 million, down by about half from the previous quarter, when there was talk of a new tech bubble.

The weekly roundup of business, technology and life science news from our partners at Xconomy.com airs every Friday on WGBH 89.7 Boston Public Radio.

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