Lupin Buys US-based Symbiomix Therapeutics

Homegrown drugmaker Lupin Ltd. has acquired U.S.-based Symbiomix Therapeutics LLC for a cash consideration of $150 million as it seeks to expand its women’s healthcare portfolio, according to reports. The cash consideration includes an upfront payment of $50 million, besides other time-based payments. The acquisition was made through the company’s U.S. unit Lupin Inc., and was funded by internal accruals, the company said. Symbiomix Therapeutics, which was founded in 2012, focuses on innovative therapies for gynecologic infections that have serious health consequences. The company was backed by private equity firms OrbiMed, F-Prime Capital Partners and HBM Partners. Early last month, Symbiomix’s lead product Solosec, which is used to treat bacterial vaginosis, had received FDA approval. It is the first and only single-dose oral treatment for the disease, which affects about 21 million American women in the age bracket of 14 to 49, annually, according to a VCCircle report. “This transaction is an important milestone in the evolution of our specialty business and gives Lupin a new therapeutic to bring to obstetricians and gynecologists to treat a serious health condition they see frequently in their practices,” said Lupin CEO Vinita Gupta.

Meesho raises $3.44M

Bangalore- and California-based Meesho, an online marketplace for resellers, has raised $3.44 million, according to reports. The company raised the funds from a group of angels, reports added. TechCrunch reported the Series A funding round was led by venture capital firm SAIF Partners. Meesho is co-founded by Vidit Aatrey, who serves as the CEO, and Sanjeev Barnwal, who also serves as the CTO. Prior to this, the company had raised a couple of angel rounds. In August 2016, it raised an undisclosed amount from a bunch of investors, reports said. In May 2016, it raised an undisclosed sum from Sunstone Business School co-founder and director Rajul Garg. Founded in 2015, Meesho allows sellers to set up an online shop through its platform. It also facilitates sharing on other social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook and Pinterest, among others. According to information on its Google Play page, the Meesho app has on-boarded more than 20,000 re-sellers and seen over 50,000 downloads.

School Financier Varthana Raises $3M

Bangalore-based school finance company Thirumeni Finance Pvt. Ltd., which operates under the Varthana brand, has raised $3 million from the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation. Thirumeni Finance will use the money to expand its school transformation program – an initiative aimed at improving the quality of learning in affordable private schools. “The Michael and Susan Dell Foundation is committed to improving the educational outcomes of children living in urban poor households. Increasingly poor families in urban areas are enrolling their children in affordable private schools with the hope that they would get access to a high-quality education. The foundation will work with Varthana to ensure that we support and help school leaders to focus on the key drivers of improvement,” said Rahil Rangwala, program director of the foundation. Since it was founded in 2013, Varthana has served over 3,000 schools spread across 11 states, and impacted over 2 million students, said Varthana co-founder and CEO Steve Hardgrave.

S-Squared Capital to Give Vatsalya Dental Funds

U.S.-based S-Squared Capital Investments has committed to invest another $3.06 million in Special Smiles Pvt. Ltd., which runs a dental chain under the brand Vatsalya Dental, VCCircle reported. S-Squared Capital will make fresh investments in two tranches over the next two years, said Srivats Bharadwaj, founder and chairman of Vatsalya Dental, the report noted. The funds will be used to open five pediatric dentistry centers in Bangalore and other parts of southern India by the end of 2019, it said. “The idea is to remove the fear of dentists among children and provide them holistic oral care,” said Bharadwaj. Vatsalya Dental had raised $1.65 million in its pre-Series A funding round from S-Squared Capital Investments last year.

Ola Gets $1.1 billion from Tencent, SoftBank

Ola, the India-based rival of ride-hailing company Uber, has raised $1.1 billion from investors including Chinese internet giant Tencent and Japan's SoftBank. The funding will give the ride-hailing service firepower to continue fighting Uber in one of the world's largest mobile markets. Ola added that it is in advanced talks to raise another $1 billion from different investors, bringing the total funding round to just over $2 billion. Following the close of the round, Ola will have a valuation of around $7 billion, a source familiar with the situation said in a CNBC report. The source also said that U.S. investors will be involved in the second tranche of the funding round, according to the report. Ola is available in 110 cities across India. It said it will use the money to invest heavily in artificial intelligence technology and penetrate new areas of the country. Ola will focus on boosting its leasing business with the new money, according to a source in the CNBC report. It leases cars to drivers who want to drive for Ola in order to boost supply. The funding will also allow it to invest in electric cars. The source also told CNBC that the company is prioritizing expanding across India ahead of moving into international markets, though it is not ruling that out. "The transportation and mobility industries are seeing huge changes globally. Our ambition is to build a globally competitive and futuristic transportation system in India that will support and accelerate a nation on the move," Bhavish Aggarwal, co-founder and CEO of Ola, said in a statement.

Perna Singh Awarded for Ethnic Diversity Paper

Prerna Singh, professor of political science at the Watson Institute, received the 2016 Best Paper Award from the Comparative Political Studies Journal for a paper that challenged the idea that “ethnic diversity impedes the provision of a wide range of public goods,” according to a Brown Daily Herald report. The paper, entitled, “Ethnicity in Time: Politics, History and the Relationship between Ethnic Diversity and Public Goods Provision,” presents an alternative argument, the report said. “I thought normatively this was just a problematic literature and such a problematic law,” she said in the report. When Singh started working on her book, “How Solidarity Works for Welfare: Subnationalism and Social Development in India,” she found positive relationships between ethnic diversity and literacy in regions of India. This spurred her to challenge the existing scholarship, it said. In the paper, Singh pointed out that the way states vary their treatment of different ethnic groups can affect the distribution of public goods. “These are historical patterns of nation-building that influence both how public services are provided (and) also levels of ethnic diversity,” Singh said in the report. “I work pretty centrally on questions of nationalism … and ethnic politics, so it’s going to be something I continue working on,” Singh said. “One way or another, it’s going to come back to haunt me.”

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