Asia Digest: BANIQL secures $1.6m; Snowflake looks to buy Reka AI; Huber’s Butchery sells lab-grown meat

Asia Digest: BANIQL secures $1.6m; Snowflake looks to buy Reka AI; Huber’s Butchery sells lab-grown meat

Photo by Cytonn Photography on Unsplash

Sustainable mining company BANIQL has secured $1.6 million in seed funding led by BEENEXT, while US-based Snowflake is reportedly in talks to acquire Reka AI. Separately, Huber’s Butchery has become the first retailer to sell lab-grown meat.

BANIQL secures $1.6m seed funding

BANIQL, a startup developing sustainable nickel and cobalt mining technologies, has secured $1.6 million in seed funding, in a round led by Singapore-based venture capital firm BEENEXT.

Other investors who joined the round include Seedstars International Ventures, A2D Ventures, Sopoong Ventures, and angel investors from the USA, Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia.

California-based BANIQL, which was founded in 2021, says its technology reduces the environmental impact of mining nickel while meeting the increasing demand for EV battery materials.

Initially targeting Indonesia’s significant nickel reserves, BANIQL has plans to expand into South Korea, Australia, and the Philippines. The funds raised in this round will be used to build a pre-pilot facility, expand R&D and engineering teams, and enhance support operations.

The lead investor BEENEXT has invested in over 290 companies globally, primarily in India, Southeast Asia and Japan. Its portfolio includes Indonesian job marketplace AdaKerja, Singapore-based video creation platform 90 seconds, and Indian credit card solutions company 42 Cards.

Snowflake in talks to buy Reka AI for over $1b: report

US-based data and cloud computing firm Snowflake Inc. is reportedly in talks to acquire Reka AI for over $1 billion, according to a Bloomberg report on Friday.

The deal’s outcome remains uncertain, and neither Snowflake nor Reka AI have commented on the negotiations, according to the report. The company was founded in 2022 by ex-Google and Meta researchers. Its CEO is Dani Yogatama, while Yi Tay, a Singaporean, is its co-founder and chief scientist.

Reka AI creates large language models used for tasks like image captioning and customer support chatbots. It was valued at $300 million in a 2023 funding round, which included Snowflake’s venture arm, Snowflake Ventures, as an investor.

Snowflake, known for its cloud-based data organisation and analysis tools, sees generative AI as a significant growth driver and has already launched its own model, Arctic, last month. 

Singapore’s Huber’s Butchery becomes first global retailer to sell lab-grown meat

Singapore-based Huber’s Butchery reportedly has become the first retailer globally to sell lab-grown meat. Wired reported last Thursday that the product is being made in partnership with Good Meat, a subsidiary of US-based plant-based alternatives foods maker Eat Just. 

The product, named Good Meat 3, is primarily plant-based with only 3% animal cells.

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