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9 travel tech startups that can accelerate post-COVID-19 recovery for airlines and airports

The following article was published by Future Travel Experience
Here we highlight the nine forward-looking startups and scaleups that recently showcased their innovative solutions at FTE APEX Virtual Expo 2021. In partnership with the FTE Innovation &

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The following article was published by Future Travel Experience

Here we highlight the nine forward-looking startups and scaleups that recently showcased their innovative solutions at FTE APEX Virtual Expo 2021.

In partnership with the FTE Innovation & Startup Hub, the recent FTE APEX Virtual Expo 2021 provided an opportunity for some of the most forward-thinking startups and scaleups in the travel tech space to showcase their innovative solutions. From AI-based baggage identification and self-service tech to data management and sustainability solutions – see how these nine startups can help the industry bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic, create additional revenue streams and enhance the end-to-end passenger experience.

BagsID Network

BagsID Network is a baggage identification solution that uses artificial intelligence (AI), deep learning, and computer vision to build smarter baggage solutions for the travel industry. It can detect individual bags by their unique physical characteristics (including scratches, dents and other features) through the technology behind biometrics and photo recognition. The solution creates less waste, is better for the environment, is more accurate (99% read rate), and can create additional revenue streams through more efficient loading and forecasting. The solution can detect individual bags by their unique physical characteristics (including scratches, dents and other features), using biometrics and photo recognition, and is a promising replacement for barcode and RFID. “The idea of BagsID started pre-pandemic and we are very pleased that, despite these challenges, the airport and airline industry is still eager to make change and collaborate,” says Marlon van der Meer, founder and CEO of BagsID Network. “Legacy baggage identification solutions are in their final stage of their lifecycle and RFID is not taking off for obvious reasons. It is simply too expensive and applications are too limited. Data extracted out of images is the key for new possibilities. We are here to be that solution, and we are here to stay. Baggage has an enormous impact on passenger experience, revenue, and on the environment, yet it is often a deliberately overlooked part of the air travel industry. BagsID will change that.”

Plan3

Plan3 is a passenger-focused disruption management system that puts unrivalled ease of recovery in the hands of disruptions customer care operators. Developed by a team of aviation industry experts, Plan3 solves every aspect of passenger disruption events – flight rebooking, hotel accommodation, ground transportation, vouchers and refunds. With Plan3, airlines easily create and publish relevant options, and passengers can self-serve their way to a seamless onward journey. With zero system integration required to get started, and no set up or flat monthly fees, the solution is designed to provide a best-in-class customer experience while helping recover margins. The startup recently announced a new partnership with Icelandic carrier PLAY, which will utilise Plan3’s system to manage disruptions, delivering an enhanced passenger experience to customers in the eye of disruption events, such as volcanic eruptions, which can be common in Iceland.

Origen Air

Origen Air is a smart, living, air purification company that filters microscopic pollutants, bacteria, and viruses for enterprises operating within public spaces. The company has introduced the Sentinel, a plant-based, zero waste, autonomous air purifier, which includes Origen Air’s genetically enhanced Golden Pothos Ivy, virus-killing UV-C light technology and an ultra-high-definition digital display. Through subscription services and digital ad revenues, the company supplies and maintains air purification hardware, software, and air quality data.

UnDelay

US-based UnDelay has developed a proprietary technology that converts hundreds of radio conversations into text simultaneously. With this data, airlines, airports and travel companies can find out if a flight will be delayed before that delay is reported. The startup has received an investment from Georgia Tech and the Chris Klauss’ Fund to enhance aviation technology to reduce flight delays and improve overall air and ground traffic performance at airports. Referring to his participation at FTE APEX Virtual Expo 2021 on 25-26 May, CEO Safir Monroe, commented: “Attending the Future Travel Experience conference was a good platform to meet industry airline and airport executives, such as SunExpress, with whom we are progressing for a pilot project. UnDelay’s AI driven,  machine learning technology, is the fastest airline communication data aggregator that determines the cause of the aircraft delay. Unlike our competitors, it can determine in real time events such as bird strikes, plane pushback approval, taxi departure, engine problems or if there is an upcoming delay discussed before an official report is released. This enables a robust action response by respective ground operative departments to fix the cause of the delay faster.”

Elevation Software

Elevation Software, a high-tech Denver-based airport and airline-focused software company, is a fully owned and operated subsidiary of Blndspt Consulting. Together the two companies aim to bring cutting edge solutions to the aviation industry. More recently, the companies which are members of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), have led the effort to architect and launch the new airport Common Use Self Service (CUSS) specification which is expected to advance the use of self-service at airports. “Through partnerships with thriving US carriers like Frontier Airlines, Elevation Software is now a pivotal mainstay in some of the largest airports in the country,” explains Steve Tate, Chief Technology Officer at Blndspt Consulting & Elevation Software. “The Elevation Suite enables airlines to process passenger loads well beyond that during pre-COVID-19 times. And with cutting-edge products now hitting airports, new and interesting mobile passenger experiences can finally emerge. Processing significantly more passengers through self-service mediums continues to allow expedited and safer journeys through crowded check-in lobbies.”

Global Travel Matters

Aviation consulting company Global Travel Matters (GTM) is renowned for its management expertise and hands-on collaboration across a number of operational disciplines, including ground handling activities, cost reduction strategies, resource optimisation, performance development and digital and self-service deployment projects. The UK-based startup focuses on helping its global portfolio of clients overcome a diverse set of challenges through problem-solving advice and specialised technical examination to improve their strategic positioning and financial efficiency. Leading the company is Owner & Founder Steve Tarbuck, who is a widely acknowledged aviation professional, having held management positions with low-cost carriers including Go Fly Limited, Ryanair and Sterling Airlines, as well as full-service carriers Qatar Airways and Brussels Airlines. He explains: “Our objective is to help companies become more financially and operationally efficient through design thinking, creativity, working smarter and doing more with less.” In the last five years since its inception GTM has worked on a number of extended assignments with Dublin-based PlaneConsult for Mexican ultra-low-cost carrier VivaAerobus, as well as Saudia and Irish regional start-up carrier Emerald Airlines who will be operating the Aer Lingus regional franchise from the end of 2022. Additional customers include WOW air, Flight Register, Ink Aviation, and many more. Moreover, as an IATA accredited instructor, Tarbuck delivers training and facilitates workshops focusing on re-imagining the passenger experience through service design thinking.

Fetcherr

Israeli startup Fetcherr has developed a ground-breaking artificial intelligence technology that tackles one of the biggest challenges for airlines – pricing and revenue management. Its AI-based demand prediction and continuous pricing system enables organisations to migrate to advanced continuous AI-based decision making. Fetcherr’s technology is highly innovative in the field of artificial intelligence and is based on models that are currently utilised in sophisticated markets such as algorithmic trading and financial markets. CEO and Founder Roy Cohen explains: “Fetcherr’s live product is probably the only real-time system today in the aviation market that proved to accurately predict demand and enable better decision-making abilities such as continuous pricing, fare filing and soon fare management.” The company has recently undergone a successful validation in the aviation market with a leading Asian carrier, in which the system demonstrated accurate six-month demand forecasting capabilities even during the COVID-19 pandemic. Following the validation, Fetcherr says that it currently has partnerships with 18 airlines in the pipeline, and it expects to make its product available for both legacy and low-cost airlines by the end of 2021.

ICARUS

Co-funded by the European Commission, the ICARUS project aims to deliver a novel framework and architecture that leverages big data to bring innovation and collaboration across currently diversified and fragmented industry players. Among the partners taking part in ICARUS is Athens International Airport, which has undertaken trials of various descriptive and predictive analytics to address core airport capacity challenges, such as flight delay prediction, capacity modelling, airport traffic forecasting and slot allocation. According to the airport, data analytics has allowed it to discover hidden patterns and implicit relations between operations and scheduling. Participating in the project is also IT company Cellock, which has utilised the platform to examine real-life scenarios, addressing two main airline pain points – predicting on-board sales and optimising tray loading. The analysis was conducted by using historical data from buy on board (BoB) retail and food & beverage (F&B) inflight sales, the number of passengers, airplane loading for F&B, flights discrepancies, as well as other related external data, such as weather data and flight status data. Haris Zacharatos, CEO of Cellock, explained that ICARUS has helped Cellock and especially its BoB product to provide unique new features to its customers. The second scenario that was put to the test was to predict profitable discounts and offers to increase inflight sales. For this purpose, Cellock trained a machine learning algorithm to predict the number of inflight product sales, aiming to optimise tray loadings, minimise in-cabin waste, and therefore reduce CO2 emission rates. The passenger experience was indirectly enhanced by providing product sales and bundle offers on F&B and duty free products already available on board, that were related to the travellers’ overall journey or destination.

Aeroficial Intelligence

Aeroficial Intelligence is a software company providing optimisation solutions to airlines, airports, civil aviation authorities and air navigation service providers. The startup’s Performance Cockpit data analytics solution has been designed to increase runway capacity and throughput, better utilise airport infrastructure, save emissions and costs in operations. The solution has been deployed by the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority to enhance capacity and runway throughput at Hamad International Airport and help increase efficiency. The company has also recently introduced its latest product, called Queue Analyser, which aims to streamline departure processes and reduce emissions on the airside.

Remember, there is still plenty of time to explore the Virtual Expo platform, as it remains open as a resource until 23:59 BST on 25th June 2021. The exhibition hall remains open and is free to access for all. Access the virtual platform here.

Interested in joining the FTE Innovation & Startup Hub?

The FTE Innovation & Startup Hub brings together the most forward-thinking corporates, startups and scaleups in the air transport industry. It provides a unique platform, through our physical and virtual events, for them to share expertise, collaborate and deliver positive change, especially during these challenging times. Corporate Partners include the likes of Pittsburgh Airport, CVG Airport, Southwest Airlines, Marubeni Corporation and many more.

Interested in joining as a Corporate Partner or a Startup Member? Contact us to learn more >>

Article originally published here:
9 travel tech startups that can accelerate post-COVID-19 recovery for airlines and airports

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Economics

Extra Crunch roundup: TC Mobility recaps, Nubank EC-1, farewell to browser cookies

What, exactly, are investors looking for?

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What, exactly, are investors looking for?

Early-stage founders, usually first-timers, often tie themselves in knots as they try to project the qualities they hope investors are seeking. In reality, few entrepreneurs have the acting skills required to convince someone that they’re patient, dedicated or hard working.

Johan Brenner, general partner at Creandum, was an early backer of Klarna, Spotify and several other European startups. Over the last two decades, he’s identified five key traits shared by people who create billion-dollar companies.


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“A true unicorn founder doesn’t need to have all of those capabilities on day one,” says Brenner, “but they should already be thinking big while executing small and demonstrating that they understand how to scale a company.”

Drawing from observations gleaned from working with founders like Spotify’s Daniel Ek, Sebastian Siemiatkowski from Klarna, and iZettle’s Jacob de Geer and Magnus Nilsson, Brenner explains where “VC FOMO” comes from and how it drives deal-making.

We’re running a series of posts that recap conversations from last week’s virtual TC Mobility conference, including an interview with Refraction AI’s Matthew Johnson, a look at how autonomous delivery startups are navigating the regulatory and competitive landscape, and much more. There are many more recaps to come; click here to find them all.

Thanks very much for reading Extra Crunch!

Walter Thompson
Senior Editor, TechCrunch
@yourprotagonist

How contrarian hires and a pitch deck started Nubank’s $30 billion fintech empire

Image Credits: Nigel Sussman

Founded in 2013 and based in São Paulo, Brazil, Nubank serves more than 34 million customers, making it Latin America’s largest neobank.

Reporter Marcella McCarthy spoke to CEO David Velez to learn about his efforts to connect with consumers and overcome entrenched opposition from established players who were friendly with regulators.

In the first of a series of stories for Nubank’s EC-1, she interviewed Velez about his early fundraising efforts. For a balanced perspective, she also spoke to early Nubank investors at Sequoia and Kaszek Ventures, Latin America’s largest venture fund, to find out why they funded the startup while it was still pre-product.

“There are people you come across in life that within the first hour of meeting with them, you know you want to work with them,” said Doug Leone, a global managing partner at Sequoia who’d recruited Velez after he graduated from grad school at Stanford.

Marcella also interviewed members of Nubank’s founding team to better understand why they decided to take a chance on a startup that faced such long odds of success.

“I left banking to make a fifth of my salary, and back then, about $5,000 in equity,” said Vitor Olivier, Nubank’s VP of operations and platforms.

“Financially, it didn’t really make sense, so I really had to believe that it was really going to work, and that it would be big.”

Despite flat growth, ride-hailing colossus Didi’s US IPO could reach $70B

Image Credits: Didi

In his last dispatch before a week’s vacation, Alex Wilhelm waded through the numbers in Didi’s SEC filing. The big takeaways?

“While Didi managed an impressive GTV recovery in China, its aggregate numbers are flatter, and recent quarterly trends are not incredibly attractive,” he writes.

However, “Didi is not as unprofitable as we might have anticipated. That’s a nice surprise. But the company’s regular business has never made money, and it’s losing more lately than historically, which is also pretty rough.”

What’s driving the rise of robotaxis in China with AutoX, Momenta and WeRide

AutoX, Momenta and WeRide took the stage at TC Sessions: Mobility 2021 to discuss the state of robotaxi startups in China and their relationships with local governments in the country.

They also talked about overseas expansion — a common trajectory for China’s top autonomous vehicle startups — and shed light on the challenges and opportunities for foreign AV companies eyeing the massive Chinese market.

The air taxi market prepares to take flight

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin

“As in any disruptive industry, the forecast may be cloudier than the rosy picture painted by passionate founders and investors,” Aria Alamalhodaei writes. “A quick peek at comments and posts on LinkedIn reveals squabbles among industry insiders and analysts about when this emerging technology will truly take off and which companies will come out ahead.”

But while some electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) companies have no revenue yet to speak of — and may not for the foreseeable future — valuations are skyrocketing.

“Electric air mobility is gaining elevation,” she writes. “But there’s going to be some turbulence ahead.”

The demise of browser cookies could create a Golden Age of digital marketing

Though some may say the doomsday clock is ticking toward catastrophe for digital marketing, Apple’s iOS 14.5 update, which does away with automatic opt-ins for data collection, and Google’s plan to phase out third-party cookies do not signal a death knell for digital advertisers.

“With a few changes to short-term strategy — and a longer-term plan that takes into account the fact that people are awakening to the value of their online data — advertisers can form a new type of relationship with consumers,” Permission.io CTO Hunter Jensen writes in a guest column. “It can be built upon trust and open exchange of value.”

If offered the right incentives, Jensen predicts, “consumers will happily consent to data collection because advertisers will be offering them something they value in return.”

How autonomous delivery startups are navigating policy, partnerships and post-pandemic operations

Nuro second gen R2 delivery vehicle

Image Credits: Nuro

We kicked off this year’s TC Sessions: Mobility with a talk featuring three leading players in the field of autonomous delivery. Gatik co-founder and chief engineer Apeksha Kumavat, Nuro head of operations Amy Jones Satrom, and Starship Technologies co-founder and CTO Ahti Heinla joined us to discuss their companies’ unique approaches to the category.

The trio discussed government regulation on autonomous driving, partnerships with big corporations like Walmart and Domino’s, and the ongoing impact the pandemic has had on interest in the space.

Waabi’s Raquel Urtasun explains why it was the right time to launch an AV technology startup

Image Credits: Waabi via Natalia Dola

Raquel Urtasun, the former chief scientist at Uber ATG, is the founder and CEO of Waabi, an autonomous vehicle startup that came out of stealth mode last week. The Toronto-based company, which will focus on trucking, raised an impressive $83.5 million in a Series A round led by Khosla Ventures.

Urtasun joined Mobility 2021 to talk about her new venture, the challenges facing the self-driving vehicle industry and how her approach to AI can be used to advance the commercialization of AVs.

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Spread & Containment

How to create effective, engaged workplace teams after the COVID-19 pandemic

Post-pandemic, the world of work will probably never be the same again. And that’s probably a good thing. We now have an opportunity to make it better.

For workplace teams returning to the office post-pandemic, it will still be important to protect the benefits of remote work: uninterrupted time for strategically important projects, and respect for personal preferences. (Pixabay)

Well into the pandemic’s second year, we are beginning to see light on the horizon. We’re not out of the woods here in Canada. As some areas of the country continue to struggle to contain the virus, others are optimistic due to lowering case counts thanks to restrictions and lockdown measures.

Ontario — the country’s largest province by population — is now in the first step of its reopening, and officials have said the majority of those who want to receive a vaccine could be fully immunized by the end of the summer.

The rolling lockdowns and public health restrictions of the pandemic response meant a massive shift to remote and virtual work for many workplaces. As we look towards and plan for the post-pandemic future, businesses and organizations need to thoughtfully consider what the future of work looks like for them.

They will need to reflect on their operations pre-pandemic, consider what they learned from the disruption of the crisis, and ask themselves: How can we build back better?

Structure shift

Recent decades have seen a shift in the structure of businesses and organizations, away from hierarchical models in favour of cross-functional and, at times, self-managing networks of teams. In fact, a 2016 survey found the majority of large corporations rely on interdisciplinary and cross-functional teams. In 2019, 31 per cent of respondents said that most or almost all work is performed in teams.

For many of these organizations, the pandemic saw these teams transition from in-person work to remote interactions via video-conferencing services like Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Skype.

Many appreciated the comfort and autonomy inherent in working from home, but the erosion of work-life balance and social interaction has caused challenges.

As we come out of the pandemic, workplace teams will need an environment that retains the experience of autonomy while also providing a sense of belonging. Employees should be free to decide where they want to work and when they want to work whenever possible. But we must also address the negative impact of isolation — loneliness, fatigue or even depression, all of which have been frequently reported during the pandemic.

Five women at a desk have a conversation.
Effective workplace teams will be critical to building back better. (Piqsels)

Research on workplace teams finds that autonomy can in fact co-exist with a sense of belonging and cohesion. For this to be achieved, organizations need to find a balance, and need to organize teams according to these structural considerations:

• Teams have a strong leader, or they can feature shared leadership.

• Teams have clearly defined task interdependencies and interfaces among team members, or team members can perform their work largely in isolation.

• Teams have the same goals and rewards for all members, or they can offer individualized goals and rewards.

• Teams communicate virtually, or they can communicate so face-to-face.

• Teams have a shared history and aspirations, or they operate for a limited time, after which they disband.

A strong leader, alongside clearly defined task interdependencies, focuses on the team as a whole, whereas virtual teamwork and individual rewards emphasize the individual team member.

Combining features of teamwork that promote autonomy with other features that foster cohesiveness and a sense of belonging is likely the best path forward.

Emphasize shared goals

As long as employees continue to operate in a virtual setting, it’s important for leaders to define shared goals and rewards. Teams must share a vision of the future that complements the larger degree of autonomy they’ve experienced through virtual teamwork.

Focusing on elements of teamwork that bring team members closer together should not be left to chance. As some organizations learned during the pandemic, scheduling social hours can replace the spontaneous conversations at the water cooler. A book club can replace the informal learning over a lunch chat. A fireside Zoom chat on company values and goals can replace an in-person town hall.

But post-pandemic, few organizations will maintain an all-virtual presence. Many will move towards a hybrid model. For those teams returning to the office, it will still be important to protect the benefits of remote work: uninterrupted time for strategically important projects, and respect for personal preferences.

The pandemic has also almost eliminated a troublesome feature of organizational life: presenteeism, or showing up to work when sick. We must not go backwards in this regard. Workers must protect themselves and their team members from the consequences of illness.

Post-pandemic, the world of work will probably never be the same again. And that’s probably a good thing. We now have an opportunity to make it better.

Matthias Spitzmuller does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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Economics

EU Bars 10 Megabanks From Recovery Bond Sale Over Previous Market Manipulation

EU Bars 10 Megabanks From Recovery Bond Sale Over Previous Market Manipulation

In an unexpected move, the European Union has decided to shut out some of the world’s biggest banks from sales of bonds for the EU’s COVID recovery fund, expected.

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EU Bars 10 Megabanks From Recovery Bond Sale Over Previous Market Manipulation

In an unexpected move, the European Union has decided to shut out some of the world's biggest banks from sales of bonds for the EU's COVID recovery fund, expected to be the largest supranational bond offering yet.

According to the FT, the EU excluded 10 banks - including JPMorgan, Citigroup, Bank of America and Barclays - from running bond sales as part of its €800 billion ($968.5 billion) recovery fund due to what the FT described as "historic breaches of antitrust rules". Specifically, the EU is seeking to punish the banks for their roles in the series of market-rigging scandals (which infamously started with rigging of the Libor before investigators moved on to currency and fixed income markets) that broke early in the last decade. The move is especially bold because many of the banks being shut out of the deal are some of the world's biggest players in international debt markets.

In other words, simply by shutting them out of this massive deal, the EU could shake up the league tables as the banks that win its business will undoubtedly be handsomely rewarded for their work. The borrowing spree - Brussels' biggest-ever - will begin Tuesday with the sale of a new 10-year eurobond to fund the NextGenerationEU pandemic program. 7 of the 10 banks excluded are among the biggest sellers' of European debt. Before they will be allowed to sell the bonds, the EU wants them to demonstrate that they have "taken remedial measures" to prevent this from happening again.

In other words, Brussels is serious about preventing banks from stuffing their pockets with public money.

Banks found to have breached EU competition rules “will not be invited to tender for individual syndicated transactions”, said a spokesman for the European Commission, which handles debt issuance on behalf of the EU. “The Commission implements a strict approach to ensuring that the entities with whom it works are fit to be a counterparty of the EU."

Banks found guilty of antitrust breaches will be required to show they have taken “remedial measures” to prevent them happening again before they will be allowed to bid for syndications, the spokesman added.

Bank of America, Natixis, Nomura, NatWest and UniCredit have been prevented from taking part due to a Commission antitrust ruling last month that they participated in a bond trading cartel during the eurozone debt crisis a decade ago.

Citigroup, JPMorgan and Barclays — in addition to NatWest — have also been barred due to a finding two years ago that they were involved in manipulating currency markets between 2007 and 2013, people familiar with the matter said. Deutsche Bank and Crédit Agricole are also excluded due to an April ruling that they were involved in a different bond trading cartel, the people said. All the banks declined to comment.

Despite this, Reuters reported earlier (citing a senior banker in charge of the deal) that the EU's first offering of €20 billion ($24.3 billion) in bonds was heavily oversubscribed. The popularity isn't that surprising, considering that Triple-A rated debt in the region can be hard to come by (since the ECB owns much of the market). And the EU bonds feature a slight yield premium to German bunds. Investors placed upwards of €140 billion in orders for the €20 billion of debt, according to bankers who spoke to Reuters.

The new EU bond, due July 4 2031, will price 2 basis points below the mid-swap rate, according to the lead manager. That is equivalent to a yield of around 0.06%, according to Reuters calculations, down from around one basis point over the mid-swap level when the sale started on Monday.

Since October, the EU has already issued 90 billion euros to help finance its unemployment support program SURE.

The EU is managing these bond sales like a national debt offering, which is appropriate since they will likely transform the bloc into the world’s biggest supranational debt issuer.

All ten banks are among the 39 approved "primary dealers" which have a responsibility to bid for bonds during government auctions. One anonymous source told the FT that the EU's decision to bar the top dealers could create unnecessary complications for the sales. "There’s a delicate equilibrium in the relationship between issuers and primary dealers, and this risks upsetting that,”" said a senior banker at one of the lenders barred from syndicated deals. "These issues they are bringing up are from a long time ago, and they have been settled."

The banks working on Tuesday’s inaugural recovery fund bond are BNP Paribas, DZ Bank, HSBC, Intesa Sanpaolo, Morgan Stanley, Danske Bank and Santander.

The EU is expected to sell two more syndicated bonds by the end of July.

Tyler Durden Tue, 06/15/2021 - 09:49

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