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R10m for “Uber of cleaning”

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SweepSouth, a company specialising in on-demand home cleaning services on the African continent, has that announced it has secured R10m in new funding.

The funding comes from the Vumela Fund, as well as from its existing investor, Vinny Lingham and Llew Claasen’s firm, Newtown Partners. The Vumela Fund is capitalised by the First Rand Group and the Jobs Fund and managed by FNB in an alliance relationship with Edge Growth.

SweepSouth had an impressive 2015, coming off of a winning pitch at the SiMODiSA Startup SA conference in October 2014.  This was followed by an April 2015 Series Seed funding round from a team of top tech investors, led by Vinny Lingham and Llew Claasen’s firm Newtown Partners and including Pule Taukobong’s Africa Angels Network (AAN) and Polo Leteka Radebe’s Identity Development Fund (IDF). The startup finished the year as the first South African startup selected to participate in the 500 Startups accelerator in Silicon Valley, between July and November 2015.

“The start of 2016 suggests a year that will be no less exciting for us,” says Aisha R. Pandor, CEO of SweepSouth. “With this major new cash injection from the Vumela Fund, we can further expand our rapidly growing national footprint.”

SweepSouth was founded on the belief that the home cleaning industry needed modernisation through technology as well as a change in mindset towards the belief that everyone deserves access to dignified work at decent pay. “As we expand we can offer so many more work opportunities,” says Pandor. SweepSouth has created thousands of job opportunities in the last few months for women, the vast majority of whom were unemployed, resulting in over 100 000 hours of cleaning being completed over this time.

“Edge Growth is an experienced and respected investor who shares our passion for job creation and social transformation. We’ve loved interacting with their team and are excited about utilising this investment to continue our rapid growth and create sustainable work for thousands of cleaners in the next year” said Pandor.

Speaking about the deal, lead investor Janice Johnston of Edge Growth says, “We think SweepSouth is one of the leading tech startups in SA. The on-demand economy is a huge growth area because a lot of consumers’ needs can be far better served with tech-enabled, on-demand services. Uber is a great example of such innovation and we think SweepSouth is the Uber of cleaning in SA. The exciting job creation opportunities which the SweepSouth platform provides professional cleaners, is an important attribute of the investment for the Vumela Fund.  SweepSouth has one of the most dynamic and creative teams in the startup space and we think they’ll take on-demand service adoption to another level in SA.”

Pandor has a PhD in Genetics and is a former management consultant with experience in HR management, strategy and operations. Alen Ribic, SweepSouth’s co-founder and CTO has over a decade of experience in software engineering, particularly in developing highly scalable systems.

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Huawei Mate 20 unveils ‘higher intelligence’

The new Mate 20 series, launching in South Africa today, includes a 7.2″ handset, and promises improved AI.

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Huawei Consumer Business Group today launches the Huawei Mate 20 Series in South Africa.

The phones are powered by Huawei’s densest and highest performing system on chip (SoC) to date, the Kirin 980. Manufactured with the 7nm process, incorporating the Cortex-A76-based CPU and Mali-G76 GPU, the SoC offers improved performance and, according to Huawei, “an unprecedented smooth user experience”.

The new 40W Huawei SuperCharge, 15W Huawei Wireless Quick Charge, and large batteries work in tandem to provide users with improved battery life. A Matrix Camera System includes a  Leica Ultra Wide Angle Lens that lets users see both wider and closer, with a new macro distance capability. The camera system adopts a Four-Point Design that gives the device a distinct visual identity.

The Mate 20 Series is available in 6.53-inch, 6.39-inch and 7.2-inch sizes, across four devices: Huawei Mate 20, Mate 20 Pro, Mate 20 X and Porsche Design Huawei Mate 20 RS. They ship with the customisable Android P-based EMUI 9 operating system.

“Smartphones are an important entrance to the digital world,” said Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei Consumer BG, at the global launch in London last week. “The Huawei Mate 20 Series is designed to be the best ‘mate’ of consumers, accompanying and empowering them to enjoy a richer, more fulfilled life with their higher intelligence, unparalleled battery lives and powerful camera performance.”

The SoC fits 6.9 billion transistors within a die the size of a fingernail. Compared to Kirin 970, the latest chipset is equipped with a CPU that is claimed to be 75 percent more powerful, a GPU that is 46 percent more powerful and an NPU (neural processing unit) that is 226 percent more powerful. The efficiency of the components has also been elevated: the CPU is claimed to be 58 percent more efficient, the GPU 178 percent more efficient, and the NPU 182 percent more efficient. The Kirin 980 is the world’s first commercial SoC to use the Cortex-A76-based cores.

Huawei has designed a three-tier architecture that consists of two ultra-large cores, two large cores and four small cores. This allows the CPU to allocate the optimal amount of resources to heavy, medium and light tasks for greater efficiency, improving the performance of the SoC while enhancing battery life. The Kirin 980 is also the industry’s first SoC to be equipped with Dual-NPU, giving it higher On-Device AI processing capability to support AI applications.

Read more about the Mate 20 Pro’s connectivity, battery and camera on the next page. 

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How Quantum computing will change … everything?

Research labs, government agencies (NASA) and tech giants like Microsoft, IBM and Google are all focused on developing quantum theories first put forward in the 1970s. What’s more, a growing start-up quantum computing ecosystem is attracting hundreds of millions of investor dollars. Given this scenario, Forrester believes it is time for IT leaders to pay attention.

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“We expect CIOs in life sciences, energy, defence, and manufacturing to see a deluge of hype from vendors and the media in the coming months,” says Forrester’s Brian Hopkins, VP, principal analyst serving CIOs and lead author of a report: A First Look at Quantum Computing. “Financial services, supply-chain, and healthcare firms will feel some of this as well. We see a market emerging, media interest on the rise, and client interest trickling in. It’s time for CIOs to take notice.”

The Forrester report gives some practical applications for quantum computing which helps contextualise its potential: 

  • Security could massively benefit from quantum computing. Factoring very large integers could break RSA-encrypted data, but could also be used to protect systems against malicious attempts. 
  • Supply chain managers could use quantum computing to gather and act on price information using minute-by-minute fluctuations in supply and demand 
  • Robotics engineers could determine the best parameters to use in deep-learning models that recognise and react to objects in computer vision
  • Quantum computing could be used to discover revolutionary new molecules making use of the petabytes of data that studies are now producing. This would significantly benefit many organisations in the material and life sciences verticals – particularly those trying to create more cost-effective electric car batteries which still depend on expensive and rare materials. 

Continue reading to find out how Quantum computing differs.

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