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Wednesday 27 May 2020

Exscientia raises $60m to expand AI drug discovery business

Exscientia logoAI drug discovery company, Exscientia, has raised $60m (c.£48m) in Series C financing. The funding round has been led by new investor Novo Holdings, with existing investors Evotec, Bristol Myers Squibb, and GT Healthcare Capital (through its limited partners) also participating.

The company was founded by Andrew Hopkins as a spin out from the University of Dundee in 2012. Exscientia still has offices in the city, although its headquarters are now in Oxford, and it established a Japanese subsidiary in Osaka last year. The latest funding follows a $15m Series A round led by Evotec in 2017 and a $26m Series B round that saw Celgene and GT Healthcare Capital as new investors alongside Evotec. Total investment to date now stands at over $100m.

The new investment will be used to expand Exscientia’s portfolio and pipeline, by launching new projects, progressing projects to the clinic, and expanding AI biology as part of Exscientia’s capabilities. In addition, the company plans to accelerate its international expansion, including extending its presence in the USA. Robert Ghenchev, Senior Partner and Head of Novo Growth (the growth equity arm of Novo Holdings) has joined Exscientia’s board as part of the financing round.

The company is expanding rapidly and has had a busy start to the year. So far in 2020, Exscientia has announced a collaboration with Bayer AG; initiated a phase I clinical study with Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma; announced a joint initiative to identify COVID-19 drugs with Diamond Light Source and Scripps Research; and entered into a drug-discovery collaboration agreement with SRI International.

As we discussed in Using AI to fight COVID-19, AI will have a major role in the future prevention, detection and response to disease outbreaks. Given the potential of the technology its unsurprising companies such as Exscientia are continuing to attract significant investment. 

Posted by: Dale Peters

Tags: funding   startup   lifesciences   healthcare   covid-19  

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Wednesday 27 May 2020

25 suppliers named on new '£250m' NHS Cyber framework

A total of 25 suppliers have been awarded a place on a new NHS Cyber Security Services framework, which has an estimated value of £250m and runs until February 2024.

Cyber framework lotsWith cyber still high on the agenda in the UK healthcare market, NHS Shared Business Services (a joint venture between the Department of Health and Social Care and Sopra Steria) worked with NHS Digital on the development of the new procurement framework. The agreement gives NHS organisations additional cyber security service options and approved suppliers to call upon alongside the services offered by NHS Digital. 

The framework is organised in three Lots. Lot 1 - Emergency Cyber Incident Management -has an estimated total value of £90m and 11 suppliers; Lot 2 - Cyber Security Consultancy Services – is valued at £80m and has 19 suppliers; and Lot 3 - Security Personnel – also valued at £80m, has 15 successful suppliers. There are familiar and expected names amongst the successful suppliers (see table) as well as a sprinkling of less well-known specialist SMEs.  AccentureDeloitteDXCCommissum Associates and Softcat appear in all three lots.

As is always the case with framework agreements, the headline-grabbing ‘£250m’ value should be treated with caution as there is no guarantee that successful suppliers will win any business through the agreement. Nonetheless, NHS SBS is becoming a popular ‘hub’ for frameworks (see also Another government cloud services framework), and the range of suppliers represented in this framework is likely to make it appealing to NHS organisations looking for additional cyber security support, particularly when time is of the essence.

If you subscribe to our PublicSectorViews and/or Tech Insights research check out the following related reports:

Public Sector Supplier Prospects 2020 & Beyond (PublicSectorViews, March 2020)

Cyber Security Supplier Prospects 2020 & Beyond (TechInsights, February 2020)

UK Public Sector SITS Market Trends & Forecasts (PublicSectorViews, November 2019)

Posted by: Tola Sargeant

Tags: nhs   contract   framework   cyber   healthcare  

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Wednesday 27 May 2020

Has COVID-19 dealt a fatal blow to physical cash?

LinkA group of MPs has written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, requesting that urgent measures are put in place to support the UK's cash payments infrastructure in the wake of the coronavirus. The impact of COVID-19 has seen the use of physical cash plummet, with many retailers only accepting card or contactless payment methods, in order to control the spread of the virus. In April it was revealed that cash withdrawals via ATMs were down 60% (see: How COVID-19 is changing the face of financial services).

The letter, signed by 37 MPs from across the House, urges Rishi Sunak to preserve access to free ATM withdrawals in order to protect vulnerable members of the community. Furthermore, the MPs have suggested that the ongoing cuts to interchange fees should be reversed, in order to provide adequate funding for the UK’s network of ATMs.

In the past, smaller retailers (represented by Association of Convenience Stores) have lobbied for the cuts to interchange fees to be reversed, in an attempt to halt the demise of free cash machines. So far the reduction in these charges has led to thousands of ATMs being closed across the country. The UK has also seen around 40% of local bank branches either closed or scheduled for closure over the last 5 years, further limiting access to cash.

In 2018, Link, the organisation that manages the UK’s ATM infrastructure, announced plans to reduce interchange fees by 20% over 4 years. The first 2 planned cuts have already been implemented, reducing fees from 25p to 22.5p per transaction, however the third was postponed due to falling transaction volumes with further cuts currently under review. Link operates around 60k cash machines, of which approximately 45k are still free to use.

Alternative, non-cash, payment methods and innovations in payments technology have significantly reduced our reliance on cash. However, whilst the use of physical money has declined sharply, there is still a section of society that relies on it. The challenge going forward will be to balance the inevitable sunsetting of physical cash against the needs of the vulnerable in society, to ensure everyone is equipped to use the many alternatives. Regardless of this timeline, I suspect that, during the height of the pandemic, many of us will have been more than happy not to have to handle “dirty money”.

Posted by: Jon C Davies

Tags: payments  

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Tuesday 26 May 2020

Thriva adds £4m to the kitty and a DIY COVID-19 antibody test

logoI am not a fan of ‘sold-on-the-web’ DIY medical tests – more so now in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Particularly those involving finger-prick blood tests (just don’t get me started on the Theranos saga – Google it if you don’t know what I’m referring to).

Which is one reason why I am no fan of London-based consumer health diagnostic start-up Thriva. I expressed my views about them last August (see Thriva raises £6m to draw more blood) and I haven’t changed them, especially now that Thriva is also offering a COVID-19 antibody test (£59 ‘sold at cost price’).

Thriva has just raised a further £4m extension to its Series A round, led by Target Global, with participation from existing investors Guinness Asset Management and Pembroke VCT. This brings total funding raised since its launch in 2016 to some £11m.

Thriva claims to have processed over 115k home blood tests to date. They currently offer 15 different tests which cost from £5-43 each, plus various packages at £79 each. One such is their Female Hormone Test to “(l)earn if a hormonal imbalance could be affecting your fertility, periods, skin, mood, or weight.” All Thriva’s tests come with a GP report.

Oh – and Thriva offers gift cards for those “(r)eady to share the gift of Thriva with someone special.” They will even help you wordsmith a personal note.

Thriva’s co-founders do not appear to have a medical background. According to LinkedIn, CEO Hamish Grierson was previously Head of International Payments and Remittance at Travelex; Eliot Brooks was Associate & Product Manager at Tandem Bank following a couple of years also at Travelex; and Tom Livesey was CTO at now defunct start-up Droplet Online. Thriva’s medical director, Vishal Shah, remains a practicing GP.

Maybe Thriva’s customers are the ‘worried well’ – and well-healed. I’d rather stick with the NHS.

Posted by: Anthony Miller

Tags: funding   startup   healthtech  

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Tuesday 26 May 2020

Compass Group dines on ‘intelligent lunch’ start-up Feedr

logoNow is not a good time to be a food delivery start-up serving lunch to people working in (real) offices. In fact I am not sure there really was a good time, which was my view back in November 2018 when I wrote about London-based ‘intelligent lunch platform’ Feedr’s pre-Series A funding round (see Backers feed Feedr with intelligent lunch money).

And so it’s another hat tip for Tech Crunch’s Steve O’Hear who was the first to report that Feedr has been acquired by UK-listed food service company Compass Group for a rumoured $24m. According to the article, Compass wants to develop Feedr’s core business as well as use the platform to serve its own corporate client base.  

If the price is anywhere near correct this will be a heck of a result for Feedr’s founders and investors; the start-up was valued at £2.8m prior to a crowdfunding round in June 2018. Feedr had raised a total of £2.7m in funding to date.

Of course, Compass is itself suffering the impact of the lockdown and recently had to respond to speculation regarding a potential capital raise, about which ‘no decision has been made’. So let’s hope Feedr's stakeholders got cash!

PS In fairness to Feedr, their website no longer uses the ‘intelligent lunch’ strapline

Posted by: Anthony Miller

Tags: acquisition   startup  

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Tuesday 26 May 2020

Kainos well positioned after strong FY20

LogoKainos Group plc, the UK-based provider of digital services and platforms, slightly exceeded expectations to deliver FY20 yoy turnover growth of 18%. Revenue for the twelve months ended 31st March increased by £27.5m over the prior year to £178.8m. Adjusted profit before tax was up 9% yoy to £25.5m. This makes it an impressive ten consecutive years of both top and bottom-line growth for the company.

There were strong performances in a number of facets of the Kainos portfolio. Driven by a doubling in size of the company’s North American business, international sales leapt by 72% yoy to just shy of £40m and revenue from commercial segment (non-Public Sector) engagements jumped 58% to £63.1m. Furthermore, turnover from the company’s Workday practice, fuelled in part by two acquisitions (see here), surged ahead by 66% to £56.3m with annuity-style revenues in this area rising by over 90% yoy to £17m.

Overall, however, the pace of yoy revenue growth not surprisingly slowed for Kainos as FY20 progressed (H1:30%, H2:9.5%). The company did, nonetheless, deliver a very strong sales performance in the last financial year.  Sales orders were up 42% to £244m to help create a contracted backlog of £180m at the end of the period.

In our coverage of Kainos’s trading update issued six weeks ago (see here), we reported that the company had wisely taken a series of actions to help it better weather the current storm. These included several cost and cash containment measures, which range from placing staff on furlough, to pausing recruitment and reducing all non-essential expenditure.  

We spoke with Kainos CEO, Brendan Mooney this morning. He remains confident regarding the medium to long-term prospects for the business, but sees the nearer term picture as less predictable. Demand in Q121 is showing stability, but the more recent, widespread slowing of procurement processes has made it more difficult to gauge how the following six months will unfold. Kainos will certainly have its work cut out to make it eleven years in a row of revenue and adjusted pre-tax profit growth.

Posted by: Duncan Aitchison

Tags: results   systemsintegration   digital  

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Tuesday 26 May 2020

Intuit revenue fell 8% in Q3

Intuit logoQ3 is usually Intuit’s strongest quarter because of the US tax filing deadline but not this time. The filing extension coupled with the COVID-19 impact on its small business customers meant Intuit suffered an 8% drop in revenue to $3bn. Operating income dived too, down 21% to $1.4bn. The Q3 period (to 30 April) came after a strong H1 where revenue had risen 14%, which included a scene setting Q120 and the largest acquistion in its history - $7.1bn for teenage fintech Credit Karma.

Q320 was a quarter to two halves. During the first part QuickBooks online accounting revenue  grew 36%, while Online Services revenue increased 16% due to Online Payroll and Online Payments. However, during the second part QuickBooks new customer acquisitions slowed by c.15 points. Notably, existing customer retention decreased by 2 points – this is a metric that merits monitoring both at Intuit and across the tech sector. Not surprisingly, online payroll also decreased. On the positive side, with tax filings due on 15 July, substantial revenue should have shifted to Q4 rather than disappeared. The company continued to provide funding to small businesses through QuickBooks Capital and since 30 April $875m in  small business loans have been made available.

As would be expected, suppliers like Intuit with an April quarter end are showing more of an impact from COVID-19 and providing a few more clues into business and economic repercussions.

Posted by: Angela Eager

Tags: results   software  

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Tuesday 26 May 2020

Agility drives public sector growth at The Panoply

Panoply“Digitally native” technology services group, The Panoply, has issued a trading update, indicating an encouraging start to its new fiscal coupled with news of a major public sector contract win. Having closed out FY20 strongly in terms of revenue growth (see: The Panoply displays early COVID-19 resilience) the company appears to have carried on where it left off.

FutureGov, one of the two companies acquired by the Panoply in 2019, has secured a significant public sector transformation contract with a global philanthropic organisation. The deal worth $5.2m over 14 months, will see the company supporting the digital transformation of local government services across the EU.

In its update, the Panoply revealed that it has signed new business worth £9.5m since 1 April 2020, with the majority of this to be delivered in the current fiscal. This revenue stream is in addition to the company’s pending deliverables, worth £15m in annualised recurring revenue, as at the end of FY20.

As many of the most agile and innovative companies have continued to thrive, despite COVID-19, The Panoply appears to be an example of a SITS provider with a transformational focus, whose business prospects have been unimpeded. The recent contract success is an example of the strength of the group's offering in this field. With around 70% of its revenues now coming from the public sector, the Panoply has indicated that it does not expect its margins to be adversely impacted by the coronavirus.

Posted by: Jon C Davies

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Tuesday 26 May 2020

*NEW RESEARCH* Resilience during the pandemic: How are your tech suppliers coping?

TechMarketView has developed an unrivalled understanding of the UK tech supplier community based on years of analysis and a network of relationships with players of all sizes.

In “COVID-19 Vulnerability and Resilience: Top 20 SITS Suppliers”, our experts analyse how well positioned the UK’s largest 20 providers of Software and IT Services (SITS) are as we continue to live through the COVID-19 pandemic. Are your suppliers behaving as you would like them to? And are they well placed to continue to deliver vital services to your organisation?cov

The Top 20 is based on TechMarketView’s most-recently published UK SITS Supplier Rankings (July 2019). Find out who the players are and read about how successful they have been at navigating these very difficult times.

Compiled by our expert analysts, it gives an easy-to-digest summary of their position across eight areas: Pre-COVID Financial Strength, Industry Focus, Supply Chain, Remote working ability, Revenue model, Talent retention, Business model agility, and Corporate conduct.

Some of the findings are heartening and praiseworthy. Furthermore, the analysis shows that a highly considered approach must be sustained in order to navigate the coming months and quarters. Some customer businesses will collapse, and certain sectors face structural changes, the likes of which we have never seen before.

The analysis is available now to members of our Tech User Programme and other corporate subscribers. Please contact Deb Seth for more information on accessing our research or find out more about TechMarketView’s core Foundation Service, here.

Download the analysis here: COVID-19 Vulnerability and Resilience: Top 20 SITS Suppliers.

Posted by: HotViews Editor

Tags: covid-19  

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Tuesday 26 May 2020

Start-up Spotlight: Waymark looks to build out Regtech platform

logoRegulatory compliance is attracting much interest from investors looking to support startups with promising propositions. One such is London-based Waymark Tech, whose ‘AI-as-a-service’ platform is primarily aimed at the Financial Services sector.

Founded in 2016 and based in London, Waymark has already raised over £1.15m in pre-seed and seed funding. They are now looking to raise a further £500k to develop the platform and build out the team, which is led by founding CEO, and former regulatory product manager, Mark Holmes.

Waymark is already working with some leading global financial services organisations and is also looking to the Public Sector as a potential market, with pilot projects at Citizens Advice Scotland and the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Regtech is becoming a crowded market, and differentiation, as ever, will be a key factor, particularly in the Financial Services sector where competitors such as London-based startup, SteelEye, are attracting higher levels of funding (see SteelEye secures $10m to increase its span).

Holmes has set ambitious goals for Waymark’s growth; he knows needs to fill out a number of gaps both in the platform and go-to-market, to achieve them.

Posted by: Anthony Miller

Tags: funding   startup  

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Tuesday 26 May 2020

Backers attest to confidence in Attest’s survey platform

logoWhen I first wrote about London-based consumer survey start-up Attest Technologies’ seed funding round back in April 2017, I wondered whether the world really did need yet another survey engine (see Investors ‘Attest’ the need for a better survey engine).

Well, its backers clearly think the world does, as Attest has just raised a further $15m in a Series A round led by a confidential investor with the participation of prior backer, New Enterprise Associates. This is reasonably serious dosh and a clear vote of confidence in the start-up, whose USP is its claim to be able to reach “100 million consumers across 80 countries” with surveys generated on its ‘super intuitive’ platform.

Attest has since become coy about its pricing which is now charged on an unspecified subscription basis (‘works for 99% of the business community’), although they also offer a PAYG option ‘at a premium’.

Maybe Attest can indeed make a chimp out of SurveyMonkey and its ilk!

Posted by: Anthony Miller

Tags: funding   startup  

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Tuesday 26 May 2020

Did you know our Corporate Subscriptions are for all...

… organisations of all shapes and sizes?

Whether you represent an ambitious start-up or a well-established multi-national, we can offer a subscription package that’s tailored to the size and shape of your business.

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• the Foundation Service, cornerstone of our analysis of the UK tech market                        CORP SUBSCRIP

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And with a corporate subscription all of your employees can have access to the same insightful research for no additional cost (we don’t charge per seat – anyone with a corporate email address from your organisation can be added to the account).

That’s not just UK-based employees either – it may surprise you to learn that only 53% of our readership are based in the UK, we really are global!

Plus when you sign up you immediately get access to every piece of research we’ve ever published in your chosen research stream/s and the searchable archive of over 20,000 UKHotViews and UKHotViewsExtra articles – a treasure trove of insight on tech suppliers and trends.

As a corporate subscription client you can also take advantage of unmetered analyst access – half hour calls or short email exchanges with our analysts to quiz them about what the research means to you are ‘all part of the service’.

Want to know more? Check out the Corporate Subscriptions area on our website and email our friendly Client Services team via for a quote that’s tailored to your organisation.

Posted by: HotViews Editor

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Friday 22 May 2020

Navenio raises £9m for hospital workforce AI platform

Navenio logoOxford University spin-out Navenio has secured £9m in Series A funding. The round was led by Hong Kong-based QBN Capital with additional participation from G.K. Goh, Hostplus, Big Pi Ventures, Oxford Investment Consultants, and existing investors, including Oxford Sciences Innovation, IP Group and the University of Oxford.

Navenio, which spun out in 2015, provides infrastructure-free indoor location solutions. The technology utilises existing smartphone devices to localise people within a broad range of contexts and markets, including healthcare. It has no reliance on traditional location systems such as GPS, Beacons or RFID.

Its Intelligent Workforce Solution provides an automated system for the tasking of healthcare staff and prioritising workload based on their location. Navenio says the solution is often described as “a bit like Uber, but for Healthcare Teams”. The company sees significant benefit in hospitals utilising the technology during the COVID-19 crisis, including infection control response, porter tasking, staff support and patient movement. The new funding will help the business increase the scope its offering in the UK, as well as expanding in the USA and Asia.

The immense pressure on healthcare systems has increased significantly during the pandemic and will remain incredibly challenging as delayed treatments restart; hence, ensuring resources are utilised effectively and efficiently is more vital than ever.

Posted by: Dale Peters

Tags: nhs   funding   startup   AI   healthcare  

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Friday 22 May 2020

*NEW RESEARCH* COVID-19 Vulnerability and Resilience: Top 20 Suppliers

TechMarketView continues to publish analysis that gets to the very heart of how the UK market and industry are coping as the pandemic continues.cov

Today we launch our COVID-19 Vulnerability and Resilience: Top 20 SITS Suppliers analysis. It is a unique look at how the larger providers of Software and IT Service providers have responded, and how well placed they are to survive and thrive. Compiled by our expert analysts, it gives an easy-to-digest summary of their position across eight areas: Pre-COVID Financial Strength, Industry Focus, Supply Chain, Remote working ability, Revenue model, Talent retention, Business model agility, and Corporate conduct.

Some of the findings are heartening, and demonstrate the thoughtful approaches taken thus far. Likewise, the analysis shows that a highly considered approach must be taken to navigate the coming months and quarters; some customers are facing collapse, and certain sectors face structural changes, the likes of which we have never seen before.

The analysis is available to corporate subscribers here: COVID-19 Vulnerability and Resilience: Top 20 SITS Suppliers.

If you would like to become a client, please contact Deb Seth.

Find out more about TechMarketView’s core Foundation Service, here.

Posted by: HotViews Editor

Tags: covid-19  

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Friday 22 May 2020

Tech Goodness: Eggplant offers testing automation aid

eggplant logoLockdown may be easing and back to workplace plans progressing but the pressure to keep systems running safely and efficiently does not let up, nor do examples of Tech Goodness from the supplier community. 

The ‘new normal’ will continue to put pressure on websites and networks, bringing performance testing forward, particularly automated user-centric performance testing. Software testing specialist Eggplant is making Eggplant Performance, which simulates virtual users at the application UI and network protocol levels, available for free until the end of June, along with 20 free sessions with Eggplant's Advanced Performance Engineering Team (the latter on a first come, first served basis). It is also offering free business value assessments to help organisations build a business case for automation through access to its ROI visualisation tools, and free automation accreditation. As well as NHS software care packages. 

As we move into the next stage of the COVID-19 response, technology will come under increased scrutiny as costs are reviewed in the light of an economic downturn and prioritised as “must have” – or not. Talking with Eggplant CEO John Bates and COO Antony Edwards recently, there were plenty of signs that automated testing software is well positioned to make it into the “must have” category. Eggplants capabilities have been called on by organisations in the thick of the UK C-19 response and demand for remote testing from both existing and new customers has risen as businesses reorganise around the remote working model that looks set to be an important aspect of working life for the foreseeable. 

Posted by: Angela Eager

Tags: testing   software   Techgoodness  

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Friday 22 May 2020

Pandemic takes toll on HPE Q2

HPEQ2 results out overnight from HPE show the impact of the COVID-19 crisis is starting to bite. Q2 revenues of $6bn were down 15% year-on-year (constant currency) and non-GAAP operating profit was down 42% to $365m.

As a result, the company is taking steps to cut costs, including salary reductions for leaders (e.g. at CEO and Executive VP level base salaries will be reduced by 25%). The firm is also looking to save $1bn through restricting recruitment, changing its property model, and making business process improvements. The companhy has also taken steps to support its channel.

HPE has set a course to become a totally as-a-service business by 2022. If that wasn’t challenge enough, trying to achieve this under tighter cost controls will make the goal even harder to hit. However, CEO, Antonio Neri said the firm was still “ensuring we align resources to priority growth areas so that we are well positioned to accelerate our edge-to-cloud strategy and address the needs of our customers in a post-COVID-19 world”.

Positive spots include 17% annual run rate growth for the firm’s GreenLake as-a-service offering, and traction in North America with its Intelligent Edge business growing 12%.

Advisory & Professional Services revenue was down 8% to $237m – although it hit an operating margin of 0.8% compared to (5.4%) in FY19. Depending on the account/sector - in other words whether project spend is being cut or whether the customer is looking to accelerate competitiveness/the digital journey - this business line will be facing both opportunities and intensified pressure. HPE can help itself by ensuring customers fully understand how its services proposition addresses both existing and new challenges in the context of the pandemic.

Posted by: Kate Hanaghan

Tags: results   cloud   as-a-service   edge  

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