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What are Xenobots? Our definition

What are Xenobots? Our definition

They are smaller than a millimetre and basically just a bunch of cells: Xenobots. Scientists at the University of Vermont and Tufts University succeeded in producing small robots made of organic material in the early 2020s using stem cells from the smooth clawed frog (Latin: Xenopus laevis). Based on the combination of active and passive cells and a computer-calculated shape, they can be constructed for different purposes. Now, a new groundbreaking discovery has been made by the research group around Sam Kriegman and Douglas Blackiston: Xenobots are also capable of reproducing themselves.

The creation of an artificial organism

Xenobots consist of a combination of skin and heart muscle cells. While the skin cells serve to form the body shape, the heart muscles are responsible for locomotion: With their property of continuous contraction, the xenobots can thus be set in motion and move independently. How the organic robots function, how they are virtually programmed, is determined by their shape and the distribution of the two types of cells: depending on the type of use, a computer uses artificial intelligence to calculate the required shape and the cells positioned within it. To create a Xenobot, the cells are first combined in the incubator and, by their nature, stick together over the course of a few days. The mould is then made by hand, using tiny tweezers and electrodes.

In addition to the contractile cells of the heart muscle, xenobots can also be equipped with cilia: These are fine, hair-like protrusions on the cell envelope. On the one hand, they are used for locomotion – so a xenobot can also swim – on the other hand, they can be used to perceive signals from the environment. It has already been possible to make the organisms change colour when they are exposed to blue light.

Incidentally, the xenobots draw the energy they need for their movements from the fat and proteins of their own cells. When this is used up, they stop their activity and die. These dead cells are then biodegradable and could be absorbed by the human organism for medical use. Their energy currently lasts for about a week, with cilia-controlled xenobots being active for longer than the muscle-controlled versions.

Self-healing and replication

One characteristic of xenobots is their ability to heal themselves: if you cut their shape, the interfaces stick together on their own. The latest research results now also attest to their ability to reproduce themselves. In one experiment, embryonic stem cells of the frog were placed in a salt solution, whereupon they initially formed small spherical clusters. With the formation of cilia after three days, these were now able to move around in the solution. Loose stem cells were now added to the xenobots thus created, which were then swept into small cell clusters by them. These cell clusters gave rise to new, floating robots that were also capable of reproduction.

This kind of reproduction was observed by the scientists by chance and was not created deliberately. However, they then used the computer to investigate which conditions best support this process. Two areas were examined: on the one hand, external factors such as temperature and composition of the salt solution, and on the other hand, the specific shape of the xenobot. The computer examined a total of 6000 possible shapes and came to the conclusion: The shape best suited for reproduction resembles a torus with an open mouth, similar to a Pac-Man. Under the best possible conditions, they succeeded in maintaining reproduction for five generations.

Potential for the future

At present, the small organic robots can’t really do much and don’t offer any practical benefits, but they do give an idea of what could be possible in the future. They could be used in a number of areas, especially in medicine: For example, medicines could be transported to their destination or arteriosclerosis could be scraped from the walls of the blood vessels. It would also be conceivable to locate cancer cells, radioactive contamination or other pathogens. In order not to be rejected by the human immune system, however, these organisms would have to be constructed from human stem cells. But there could also be applications outside medicine: The University of Vermont, for example, sees a way to fish microplastics out of the oceans.

Source: Fast Company
What is the story of the payment company Worldline?

What is the story of the payment company Worldline?

In the service sector of payments and financial transactions, the French group Worldline is now the market leader in Europe and 4th in the world. How did it come to this? What does the growth of this company look like over the years?

The early years with merit on the Carte Bleue

Worldline begins under the name Sligos in 1972 and is strongly linked to the emergence of the Carte Bleue, the classic French debit card of the following decades. It was the merging of Cegos Informatique (in existence since 1962) and Sliga (the data processing company within Crédit Lyonnais since 1970) into a new payments company, still controlled by one of France’s largest banks, Crédit Lyonnais. The Landesbank of France mentored Sligos to develop its payment processes into Carte Bleue, and not long after, in 1975, Sligos was processing 2.5 million payment transactions a year. By 1980, these had risen to 30 million a year; the bank card had gained widespread acceptance. In the 1980s, Sligos relied on the development of the microchip and introduced ‘smart’ card payment transactions that used pin numbers for authorization, which began the gradual decline of the process involving reading the magnetic strip and a manual signature. By the end of the decade, 50 million bank cards of the national type ‘Carte Bleue’ had been issued. In principle, this marked the nationwide acceptance of an electronic means of payment in France. France was at the vanguard of Europe in popularizing smart cards. But it wasn’t until 2003 that Cartes Bleues gained a use beyond national borders with the alignment to the international EMV standard. In 2010, they disappeared in favor of Visa.

Expansion abroad and the merger with Axime to form Atos

With the nineties, the expansion of Sligos (later Worldline) beyond the borders of France began, the acquisition of the British company Signet took place in 1991 There were further acquisitions in Germany (Marben Group), Italy and Spain until the mid-nineties. During a period of restructuring and sale of subdivisions, such as that of smart card production, the next major event in the history of Sligos occurred when it merged with its competitor Axime in 1996, at the latter’s suggestion. Under its former name, Sodinforg (prior to 1993), Axime had become France’s third largest smart card payment system developer. Axime had also seen a steady rise in e-payments through the acquisition of other companies similar to Sligos, but that will not be of interest here. Axime made a name for itself particularly in the stock exchange sector with software and electronic systems. After the merger, Sligos and Axime operated under the name Atos from September 1997.

With the name Atos to the top of the continent

The merger was immediately followed by further reorganization measures, with the creation of four key divisions: Services, Multimedia, Outsourcing and Systems Integration. Areas that did not fit into these four divisions were divested. These included companies for computer hardware sales, direct marketing, software development for network interconnection. Sesam (Italy) was acquired, and another major merger turned Atos into Atos Origin in 2000 after the takeover of Origin (originating from Royal Philips Electronics). Now the group could claim to have become the number 3 among all IT companies in Europe, with an annual turnover of 2.8 billion euros at that time. At that time, there was a trend to combine system integration with consulting services. In 2002, KPMG Consulting, with its activities in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, was added to the group. An important deal in the Netherlands in the same year was the takeover of almost all of KPN’s IT operations for the equivalent of one billion euros. At the end of 2003, Atos Origin took ownership of SchlumbergerSema, the leading provider of IT services to the oil industry. This was to be a door-opener for penetrating the Chinese market, because SchlumbergerSema brought with it important support contracts, namely with six out of ten existing Chinese banks that issued credit cards. On this basis, Atos Origin planned to expand further in China, quadrupling its operations there by 2006. In 2004, the name Worldline appeared for the first time when Atos created a new division for its payment and online services, under the name Atos Worldline.

Atos Worldline grows to autonomy

Two Belgian companies came under the ownership of Atos Worldline in 2006 – Banksys and BCC. The former was responsible for securing electronic payments in Belgium, the latter regulated payment systems for Visa and MasterCard in Belgium. This deal had a magnitude of 309 million euros in revenue. Managing Director Bernard Bourigeaud, who had been at the helm of Atos since the days of Axime, handed over the reins in the fall of 2007 to Philippe Germond, who held the position until 2008, when he made way for longtime Atos CEO Thierry Breton (until 2019, now European Commissioner for Internal Market). From India, Atos Worldwide received Venture Infotek, which handles payment processes among merchants, banks and that country’s administration, for 100 million euros in 2010. The following year, Siemens’ IT services division joined Atos Worldline, followed in 2012 by Quality Equipment, a Dutch electronic payments company. In 2013, Thierry Breton found Worldline so significant that this business unit was granted more autonomy within Atos, while parent company Atos Origin remained 100% shareholder of this spun-off subsidiary Worldline.

Disengagement from Atos and final stages of growth

Efforts at constant expansion continued under the latest name: once again, a Dutch company was the target of an acquisition; Equens joined Worldline in November 2015, although in the first step only just under 64% of the new equensWorldline was owned by Worldline itself. In the summer of 2017, Digital River World Payments of Sweden came into French ownership for $37 million from Bezons, Worldline’s headquarters on the outskirts of Paris. Then First Data Baltics of Lithuania was absorbed for €73 million. However, these acquisitions pale before the subsequent purchase of SIX Payment Services, the payment services arm of the Swiss stock exchange, which was worth 2.3 billion euros to Worldline. That transaction, in May 2018, reportedly boosted Worldline’s revenue by 30%. The following year, Worldline became fully independent of parent Atos, whose stake dropped to 27%, by reshuffling its shareholdings. The last major acquisitions were Ingenico, the world leader in the field of device manufacturing for e-payments (February 2020) and the Eastern European online payment service provider GoPay (April 2020). Worldline stock analysis also shows that. The current CEO Gilles Grapinet has been trying since May 2020 to achieve an alliance of the major groups of European digital payment service providers by forming the umbrella organization EDPIA, of which he also became the founding president. Currently, Worldline’s activities are divided into Merchant Services, Terminals Solutions Services, Financial Services and Mobility e-Transactional Services. In 2018, Financial Services accounted for nearly half of revenue at just over 42%.

Source: Worldline 
Photo by Jonas Leupe on Unsplash
What is US investor David Blitzer doing with FC Augsburg?

What is US investor David Blitzer doing with FC Augsburg?

Things are generally rather quiet at FC Augsburg – but then the latest news has generated nationwide interest in the world of soccer: David Blitzer, an investor from the USA, is joining the club, which plays in the Bundesliga. Private equity investors from Switzerland are also important in the global investment markets. The big financial world is thus making inroads into the Augsburg environment, which until now has been characterized primarily by calm and regional cohesion. But what does Blitzer plan to do with FCA and how could the structures and approaches at the club now change? In the following, you will find everything you need to know about the big deal in the Fuggerstadt.

Blitzer’s company invests 5.5 million euros

The commercial register shows that Bolt Football Holdings has invested €5.5 million in FC Augsburg. In return, the company receives 45 percent of the shares, which are available around the FCA in a spun-off corporation. Behind Bolt Football Holdings is David Blitzer, who thus becomes a business partner of Klaus Hofmann, the club’s president. Hofmann Investoren GmbH holds 99.4 percent of the shares in FC Augsburg GmbH und Co. KGaA. The professional division of the Fuggerstädter, which has been playing in the top German league for 10 years – despite a mostly rather low budget – has been spun off into this company.Bolt Football Holdings has now joined Hofmann’s GmbH as a shareholder. The US-based company now holds 45 percent of the shares, while Hofmann itself holds 30.56 percent. The rest of the shares are divided between shareholder Thilo Sautter (4.07 percent) and Projekt Green GmbH (20.37 percent). The latter reduced their shares to enable Blitzer and his company to enter the market. Two shareholders left the company completely: MAJA Vermögensverwaltungsgesellschaft and MHM Group.

Who is David Blitzer?

The background to the deal is that Blitzer and Hofmann have known each other for around 20 years. Blitzer, a U.S. citizen, grew up in Scotch Plains, New Jersey. He graduated from Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School in 1987 and then studied at the University of Pennsylvania. He graduated magna cum laude. Upon graduation, he accepted a position with the Blackstone Group in 1991 and became a Senior Managing Director & Head of Tactical Opportunities in the Ney York City metropolitan area. He subsequently developed into a successful businessman who revealed a weakness for sports.

Blitzer is a co-owner of several clubs in various sports. In soccer, he has minority shares in Crystal Palace, a Premier League club in England. In Belgium, first division club Waasland-Beveren has been 97 percent owned by the Bolt Group since September 2020. He also has a hand in two other sports clubs from two of the world’s biggest leagues: The 52-year-old holds shares in the Philadelphia 76ers from the US basketball league NBA and in the New Jersey Devils from the ice hockey league NHL in the USA.

What will change on the Supervisory Board at FCA?

There are changes on the supervisory board of the KGaA surrounding FC Augsburg following Blitzer’s entry. Marcus Höfl, known as Franz Beckenbauer’s manager, is leaving the supervisory board as his MHM Group no longer has any shares. The same applies to Detlef Diesel, who is leaving with MAJA Vermögensverwaltungsgesellschaft. However, the positions of the two Supervisory Board members will not be filled. Blitzer will not be given a seat on the Supervisory Board or any other post with the Augsburg-based company. The same applies to the Bolt Group, which will in future consist of only three people: Chairman Stefan Frederking, Thilo Sautter and Jan-Ingwer Callsen-Bracker, a former FC Augsburg professional.

Why does Blitzer invest in FC Augsburg?

This is a question that only Blitzer himself can answer, but he has not yet commented on it. His intentions, however, are quite obvious. For the entrepreneur, the investment in FCA represents a great opportunity to play a role in German soccer – which is generally very difficult for investors to access. With his Bolt Group, he is seizing every opportunity to generate more significance in the sport.

FCA is also seen as an ambitious and attractive club, which has attracted attention in the past with good business and a secure place in the Bundesliga. A good investment for the future. His friendship with Hofmann should have given him good insights into the club. The final reason for Blitzer might simply be his hobby of investing in various sports clubs in the U.S. and Europe.

What does the entry of Blitzer bring to FCA?

For FC Augsburg, the entry of Blitzer also brings one or two advantages. Above all, the Fuggerstädter can expect greater and new economic opportunities that go hand in hand with such a globally active company. One keyword here is internationalization. Marketing and sponsoring on the American market are difficult for small clubs like FCA to implement, but Blitzer and his company will open doors. The exchange with North American professional clubs around know-how is also an opportunity for the club. Particularly in the USA, FCA has wanted to make its presence felt for some time. A trip to the USA was planned for the summer of 2020 as part of the preparations. However, this was cancelled due to the Corona pandemic. In financially difficult times, the deal also brings security to a club that always has to manage well. The club got through the Corona crisis without any state aid, which is remarkable considering the 35 million euros in lost revenue. Meanwhile, the arrival of Blitzer does not represent a major change, as there is no change in the balance of power. This is certainly also an important point for the club, which stands for tradition.

Source: Kicker 

Photo by hoch3media on Unsplash

What is the new food industry?

What is the new food industry?

The term ”new food industry” refers to the part of the food industry that deals with novel food products. Important examples include vegan meat substitutes and insect-based foods. Innovations and new trends do not stop at our food. In recent years, what ends up on our plates has become increasingly important. Food is no longer just food. Climate-friendly food, vegan and vegetarian food and meat substitutes are playing an increasingly important role in today’s world. The new food industry is becoming more and more important, setting new trends, dealing with food. Many food companies in Germany are also adapting to this New Food industry. The food of the future has already entered the stage many years ago.

The New Food industry is facing a major challenge

In recent years, the issues of climate change and sustainability are taking on an increasingly important role in life. Sustainability and climate are also important players in food that should not be ignored. The meat industry in particular has a high impact on the environment. No wonder that the new food industry has jumped on this bandwagon, trying to find a solution that is not only sustainable for the climate, but at the same time healthy for people. Food is no longer just about satisfying hunger. It is about the healthy
Preservation of the body, its stabilization and a healthy life as possible.

Full in the trend – veganer life-style

Veganer live at present a trend, which is more than a life feeling. And the new food industry is also following this trend. With the renouncement of meat the environment can be taken under the arms, can animal suffering be reduced. Germany in particular has been inspired by this new trend. In no other European country is set to such an extent on vegan food, as in Germany.
But it is not only in Germany that the vegan trend is taking hold. Already more than 1 billion humans live world-wide already vegan, want to make their contribution. By a high meat consumption the environment is loaded with fertilizer masses and poison gases, with which it cannot become finished any longer. It is time that with humans a reorientation takes place, the environment by the conversion of the food is supported. If you want to have a positive impact on the climate, you should not only do without cars. Also the New Food industry makes an enormous contribution to it.

Meat substitutes play a leading role


The New Food industry is taking environmental protection to heart. Away from conventional meat, towards tasty meat substitutes. With tofu, quorn and lupine, vegan and vegetarian options for meat-free enjoyment have already been discovered, whetting the appetite for more. Grilling and roasting have long since ceased to be the preserve of meat. Meatless variants have also become increasingly popular in recent years.The new generation of food takes up the trend of meatless trends. The main aim is to replace fish and meat to a large extent. In the future, the main focus will be on protein-rich foods that provide the body with everything it needs.

Insects on the plate? Utopia or soon reality?

The toxic gas masses and the fertilizer quantities, which are reached by the meat industry, can soon no longer be stomached by the environment. New innovations are needed, new ways of feeding. Even if it may sound a bit quaint at the moment, the new food industry already has insects on its agenda. The great advantage of a diet containing insects is, above all, that the proteins the organism needs can be supplied in sufficient quantities. Insect farms have long since ceased to be an image from science fiction movies. There are already discussions about whether the meat industry will back down in favor of insect farms.

Quality is also important for New Food

Many consumers become a little skeptical when it comes to the production of sustainable food. In most cases, production is industrial, which is why many believe that sustainability could be compromised. Of course, even with new and vegan foods, there are manufacturers that act as a negative example. But this is not the rule. Who decides for vegan food, should therefore always carry out a quality check, and examine the food, their production and their origin on heart and kidneys.

EmTech Germany – new trends are presented

The new food industry is on the rise. Numerous experts and start-ups have already come together at EmTech Germany to develop the latest and most sustainable trends. What will be on the plate tomorrow needs to be extensively discussed and planned today. Because New Food also needs a preparation period so that everything can be implemented according to plan. The future of food plays a key role at EmTech Germany. Among other things, experts will also be exchanging ideas about the possibilities of changing food production. The way this production is currently structured, it cannot go on for much longer in the long term. Innovative changes are needed to meet the demands.

New Food is becoming increasingly popular in the USA

For a long time, the USA was known for its enormously high meat consumption. Factory farming in particular attracted negative publicity for many years. Enzyme and microbial technology has now made its way into the USA. GEA, based in Denmark, has been able to set its first, but important, foot in the U.S. with a major order. In 2023, food production with plant-based proteins will start in Nebraska. Not only in Europe, but also in the U.S., demand is growing for sustainable foods that bring with them outstanding environmental credentials.

We are what we eat. In recent years, it is no longer enough for food to fill the plate. Attention is being paid to sustainability, environmental protection and animal welfare. This makes it all the more important for the new food industry to stand out more and more, and to pick up on new trends. The food of the future will have to change. Factory farming will not be sustainable on this scale. The environment will be polluted to such an extent that a rethink will have to take place with regard to food. More and more people are turning to the new foods that are vegan and meatless. This trend will expand, new food options will be created. Protein-rich plant-based products will soon dominate our everyday lives – and that’s a good thing. Because with the right food choices and the support of the new food industry, the right step can definitely be taken in the direction of sustainability, animal welfare and environmental relief.

Source: EmTech 

Photo by Jannis Brandt on Unsplash





What does the charging station company Ionity do?

What does the charging station company Ionity do?

 What does Ionity do?

Ionity’s goal was to have 400 so-called charging parks in operation by the end of last year. Ionity is an emerging electric company in Germany. However, the joint venture founded by BMW, Ford, Daimler and Volkswagen to set up fast-charging stations quickly identified some obstacles. To date, only 336 charging stations are actively operating. It is still unclear what will happen after the initial construction phase. With electric car sales on the rise, Ionity is looking at continuing to significantly expand its charging network. The manufacturers behind the joint venture, which was founded in 2017, would also already consider further funding for the company. The aim is to avoid long queues at charging stations by increasing the number of available electric charging stations. This has the background of not further deterring potential buyers of electric vehicles. Ionity shareholders also reported a growth strategy that includes a high-performance charging infrastructure across Europe. “Additional investment opportunities are being discussed,” the report continues in an interview with Ionity CEO Michael Hajesch.

Hyundai as a partner

Hyundai Motor Group, which owns the Hyundai and Kia brands, has been a partner in Ionity since 2020. To date, each partner is said to have contributed around €200 million to the company. Further funding is primarily intended to enable the installation of new fast-charging stations in cities and on less-traveled trunk roads. Ionity has so far focused primarily on congested highways and has only installed its own charging stations in selected cities.

Legal requirements

Electric car sales are on the rise in most European countries, but a more extensive charging infrastructure is imperative to gain acceptance in the general market. The delayed development of charging infrastructure in the EU is jeopardizing the profitability of electric cars, affirms BMW CEO Oliver Zipse, who is also head of the European manufacturers’ association ACEA. He believes that politicians should act quickly and set their member states binding targets for the expansion of charging infrastructure.

Ionity as a premium provider

With the project, or rather the company Ionity, the participating manufacturers are pursuing a premium approach; the kilowatt hour (kWh) has already cost 79 cents since 2020. Other providers within the EU are significantly cheaper, but Ionity wants to hold on to its current price – allegedly for financial reasons, but probably also to lure customers with special offers in the future. In addition, there is a lot going on in the market. It has been rumored for months that Audi and Porsche are planning their own charging network with additional premium services for their customers, which could be a competitor for Ionity in the near future. Not all Ionity participants think this is a good idea. Many believe that more closed charging networks, like those used by e-car pioneer Tesla, are unnecessary and make the market unnecessarily expensive. Polestar, Volvo’s electric car sub-brand, recently came out clearly against its own or private charging stations.

Company portrait Ionity

The joint venture company Ionity, operates an international charging network for electric vehicles along European highways. In 2017, a group of car manufacturers from Germany founded Ionity with the aim of integrating electric mobility for long-distance vehicles into their future product lines. The first expansion stage of 400 spaces for the high-power charging network, where numerous vehicles can be charged at charging stations with up to 350 kW of charging power, was actually supposed to be completed by the end of 2020. Currently, the expansion stands at about 80%.


In 2016, the main German manufacturers, together with the Ford company, announced their intention to develop a European network for charging electric vehicles. The average distance between charging stations on defined routes should never exceed 120 kilometers. The European Commission approved the establishment of a joint venture company in April 2017. The BMW Group, Daimler AG, Ford Motor Company and Volkswagen Group were involved in the establishment. Later, the entire Hyundai Motor Group joined the venture. Shell and Renault also submitted bids totaling half a billion euros as part of their search for new partners.

Where does the name Ionity come from?

The company’s name was unveiled in November 2017. The name is made up of the terms Unity and Ion. The stated goal is to build and operate a network of high-capacity fast-charging stations for electric vehicles along major European transport corridors. Ionity’s headquarters are located in Munich. In addition, a subsidiary with offices in Oslo has been established. Ionity firmly believes in the implementation of electromobility. And even more directly in electromobility without restrictions. Ionity wants everyone to be able to travel with an electric vehicle. Just as naturally as is possible today with a gasoline-powered car. Range or charging stations should no longer be an issue. According to Ionity, the freedom of driving must also be guaranteed for electric vehicles throughout the EU.

Source: Ionity

Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

Cologne-based project developer Pandion sells office project development in Munich

Cologne-based project developer Pandion sells office project development in Munich

German investment manager Union Investment is making a purchase: in Munich, a 44,700sqm office space development is being acquired from project developer Pandion. Pandion is one of the most important project developers in Germany. The project is scheduled for completion in 2024. The project is expected to be home to 1,500 jobs. The office space has already been leased to the German Patent Office for 15 years. According to the analyst firm Thomas Daily, the purchase price is around 600 million euros. The office property is located in the Werksviertel district to the east and is in the immediate vicinity of the Ostbahnhof train station. The Munich office project is also impressive in terms of sustainability: it boasts DGNB Gold certification and has been awarded the Wired Score Gold.

PANDION AG: Leading project developer from Cologne

The large-volume office project development was developed by Pandion. The 200-employee Cologne-based company is one of the most active German project developers. The focus is on the cities of Berlin, Bonn, Düsseldorf, Mainz, Munich and the Stuttgart region. Development is carried out in the residential and commercial categories. An exemplary residential project by Pandion is “PANDION MIDTOWN” in Berlin-Friedrichshain.

In the office sector PANDION sets new standards: with innovative projects so-called OFFICEHOMEs are to be designed. Further projects are located for example in Berlin, like the PANDION OFFICEHOME Ostkreuz or in Stuttgart the PANDION OFFICEHOME Am Pragsattel. Pandion’s sales volume has now reached 5 billion euros. The company has been managed by Reinhold Knodel since 2002.

Buyer of the 600 million Euro property: Union Investment

As already mentioned, the property is being acquired by “Union Asset Management Holding AG”. This is a leading German investment manager. Behind the investment house is the DZ Bank as the main shareholder. Union Investment manages assets of over 385 billion euros. An important investment area is real estate, which is invested in funds.

Source: Immobilienmanager

Photo by Philipp Bachhuber on Unsplash