Conception is the brainchild of Matt Krisiloff, a Silicon Valley-based tech-entrepreneur, whose start-up is studying how to transform stem cells into human eggs, offering a new solution in the world of fertility. Conception is working on a new technology named in-vitro gametogenesis (IVG) that could give women the opportunity to have children well into their 40s and 50s, while also mitigating the obstacles preventing couples suffering from infertility from having children in the future. If successful, it could also allow male couples to have biological children.
The team at Conception have already found this reproductive treatment to successfully work on mice eggs – producing healthy, live mice – and are now translating this technology to humans. Conception also believes that this technology can be used in the long run for genetic screening of embryos, potentially eliminating or reducing the risk of diseases such as Alzheimer’s, heart disease and types of cancer.
You’ve heard of fintech, now Nigeria’s SunFi is one of the first energy finance start-ups that helps individuals and businesses access solar power through payment plans they can afford.
The brainchild of CEO Rotimi Thomas, the platform has received £1.9m ($2.3m, €2m) in seed funding to take customers off the national energy grid, which frequently experiences outages.
Thomas explains that although solar power is one solution, paying for installation and maintenance of the necessary equipment wasn’t possible for many of the country’s 223m people. Along with co-founders Tomiwa Igun and Olaoluwa Faniyi, Thomas developed two options: a deposit followed by instalments, with the aim of the customer eventually owning the solar-energy system, and a monthly subscription.
‘The challenge customers face with solar providers is that they want solutions they can pay small for,’ Rotimi told TechCrunch. But solar platforms can’t offer that, and banks are afraid of the technical risk involved. ‘They need something in between to talk with good solar providers and do the installation work while providing good capital to customers looking for the right solution. We’re the guys in the middle of all this.’
AJ Addae is the founder of Sula Labs, an R&D beauty lab that focuses on the needs of Black and dark skinned people, and her work is dedicated to helping others define themselves. With a BSc in molecular biology, her first role in a medical grade lab made her keenly aware that inclusion in the beauty industry needs to start with the people behind the brands, in the nitty gritty of formulation. Sula Labs is named after the titular character in Toni Morrison’s 1973 novel, Sula.
Sula Labs has worked with 11 indie beauty brands on product development and is partnered with almost half of the brands featured in Sephora Accelerate’s 2023 programme. Addae is currently pursuing a PhD in chemical biology at UCLA while also gathering pre-seed funding for Sula Labs, a move that will enable it to broaden in-house capabilities and create an R&D experience that appeals to even more businesses.
By ensuring that Black people are involved at the beginning of the product development process, Addae is challenging the way diversity is understood in beauty. Sula Labs is showing the industry that true inclusivity starts with ingredients, formulas and chemists that bring the needs of Black and dark skinned people to the fore.
Candace Harris is using science to make the future of haircare inclusive.
The Atlanta-based computer scientist created innovative hair analysis tool Myavana, the first AI system to properly recognise multi-textured hair.
Myavana made its debut at CES in 2023 and its process is simple and intuitive: users take a photo of their hair and upload it to the Myavana app, which then analyses their unique hair type and recommends products and styles.
Myavana also provides personalised haircare evaluation with its Hair Strand Analysis Kit, which involves consumers sending a strand of their hair to Myavana for examination in its lab.
Harris hopes her tech-fuelled haircare tools will help Black consumers and those with multi-textured hair to understand its care and management and, in turn, empower them to advocate for better products and treatment from the haircare industry.
Zeng Lishan and Wu Yijing, also known as Lisa and Echo, are shining a light on their Chinese heritage while debunking stereotypes in the process. Their editorial outlet, 1413, addresses a variety of topics, from the societal meaning of the selfie in China to local fandom culture. Its latest issue, however, is reinvigorating traditional Chinese medicine and wellness for a new generation.
The duo studied graphic design at the Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology and both have full-time jobs while actualising the passion project. They take a low-fi approach and handle most of the design, photography, writing and translation themselves, with the occasional contribution from friends and local collaborators. The laid-back approach is intentionally illustrated throughout the magazine, to capture and hold the attention of its younger target audience.
Ross Morales Rocketto and Amanda Litman’s Run For Something furnishes young people with the support and tools they need to run for office in the US. Professional political organisers Morales Rocketto and Litman launched their passion project on Inauguration Day 2016. Their mission: to get as many progressives under 40 elected to office at state and local level around the country as possible. They thought they would struggle to interest 100 people, but in their first five years have recruited more than 100,000 young activists, community leaders, students, educators, small-business owners and thinkers across all 50 states to boldly step into the political arena.
Each prospective candidate that reaches out to Run for Something goes through a vetting process while every successful candidate has access to a mentorship programme and campaign experts who give them a foundation to build a workable political campaign. ‘A lot of people feel that politics is dirty,’ says Morales Rocketto. ‘And a large part of the reason our organisation exists is to demystify and overcome some of these stereotypes.’
Run For Something’s engagement of young Americans is helping build a government more representative of American people.
The focus for Sydney-based Michael Hoppe is user-focused design and product problem-solving. He is best known for the development of YBell, a fitness community and programme centred around a multi-functional fitness tool. While the fitness equipment market is highly saturated, Hoppe’s design prioritises ease and access, enabling it to stand out among existing apparatus.
Ease and access are common threads throughout Hoppe’s work. A recent project from the designer explores how to make dining experiences inclusive for people with disabilities. The result is Font, a 24-piece cutlery collection that can be tailored to people with various levels of hand strength, dexterity and control. ‘Everyone has a favourite spoon or cup that they use all the time. There is a lot of potential for leveraging aesthetics in inclusive design and design for people with disabilities,’ says Hoppe.
Onye Ahanotu is a scientist turned home chef and winemaker. After gaining a bachelor of science in chemical engineering and material science from the University of California, he obtained a master’s in material sciences and engineering. These classical skills were then used on his first post-studies project where he launched an adaptive materials platform that offers specialised surfaces for hospitals to save energy and reduce infections.
Outside of his professions, Ahanotu is an observer of different cultures, life and humanity. He grew up as a Nigerian-American in the heart of the now world-renowned Northern California Wine Country. With an interest in cooking and different cuisines, flavours and techniques, he eventually amalgamated all of his passions to form Ikenga Wines.
Ikenga Wines produces the world’s first bio-designed palm wine, one of the oldest known wines that naturally occurs when sap from damaged trees spontaneously ferments within hours. Its intention is to transform a tasting experience that focuses on flavour while reducing environmental impact through elegant design.
‘Farfetch with an African focus’ is how Ayotunde Samuel Rufai describes Jendaya, his UK-based online luxury marketplace. Jendaya is available globally, but it first and foremost caters for Africa’s often overlooked luxury consumers.
Rufai was inspired to launch the e-commerce platform when he grew tired of being sent by his family in Lagos to buy luxury items in London. The platform acts as a gateway for global luxury brands into the African luxury market, hosting renowned luxury labels including Issey Miyake, Comme des Garçons and JW Anderson. But it is also a showcase for African designers, giving creatives such as Marty Moto, Abiola Olusola and Imad Eduso an opportunity to connect seamlessly with luxury consumers around the world.
A year after its launch, Jendaya raised £1m ($1.2m, €1.1m) in pre-seed funding from a collection of investors including First Impact VC. 'Get ready to see us everywhere,’ warns Rufai. He wants Jendaya to become known as the platform celebrating Africa’s luxury producers and purchasers, making sure they are not forgotten or taken for granted.
A platform for the art curious and the art expert, Canada-based Peggy is a social media marketplace where you can buy, sell, comment on or view contemporary art.
The brainchild of Adam Meghji and Craig Follett, Peggy partners with over 30 galleries globally to highlight artists who are on the up, or those who have already made it to the walls of the Whitney, Tate or Centre Pompidou. It was set up with an initial investment of £6m ($8m, €7m).
The AI-driven platform can authenticate artwork, allowing artists to secure royalties when their work is first purchased, and also when it is sold to subsequent collectors or dealers. This is a democratising move, as artwork is usually authenticated by a small set of gatekeepers who specialise in better-known artists.
‘Peggy creates a new economy for art, one where everyone can participate,’ says Follett. ‘For the first time ever, collectors can buy art with the flexibility to sell it on the other side, should they one day need to re-home the artwork. This unprecedented flexibility, previously only available to billionaires, is now available to the rest of us, and we're excited to be at the forefront of this movement.’