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Asia's tech news, weekly: August 15th 2023
Shanghai satellites, Japan's Soramitsu & CBDCs, Google in Mongolia, gravity-energy in China, India's datasec law, Australian lithium, Singapore fintech fund, PayPal stablecoin...
• Taiwan's TSMC commits 3.5BN Euros to its first European facility in Germany, gaining heavy state support for what will be an $11BN plant
• China: "Dozens of companies feed a quantum-computing supply chain that did not exist a few years ago... The district is hardly a decade old; not long ago the most modern tech in the area was farming equipment"
• Japan's Soramitsu looks to build out Asia-wide cross-border payments with exchange for stablecoins, building on Cambodia's Bakong CBDC, the Lao 'digital kip' and QR code payments
"TikTok Shop’s GMV, or total value of goods sold, skyrocketed more than four times to US$4.4 billion in Southeast Asia in 2022. This year, TikTok Shop reportedly aims for a GMV target of US$12 billion."
• China: Shanghai Gov't unveils 'G60 Starlink' project, constellation of upwards of 12000 satellites, with phase 1 seeing 1296 satellites in orbit - adding to 13000-satellite Guowang project, seen as SpaceX StarLink competitor
• Australia: MinRes commits $4.5M for plant to extract lithium from mining waste using tech developed by Lithium Australia and gov't ANSTO, aiming to test towards full commercialization
• Singapore: Monetary Authority allocates $112M over 3 years to boost grasp emerging tech and boost innovation in the city-state's financial sector
• Mongolia gov't partners Google for 20K Chromebooks and training for 10K teachers as part of long-term development plan, with other initiatives also under discussion
• China: Galactic Energy hits multi-payload success with mobile launch system delivering 7 satellites spanning camera and imaging tech and space-ground comm's, with sights on sea-based launches
• Taiwan: TSMC adds plan for next-gen 2-nm chips plant in southern city of Kaohsiung to existing plans for 2-nm facility in northern Hsinchu county, with possible 3rd plant for Taichung
• South Asian Australian Startup Founders List and Insights Report is now available, featuring 101 individuals who have collectively raised over $1.1BN and employ over 2200 people
• India to launch BRICS Startup Forum to boost collaboration and knowledge-sharing among startups, investors, incubators and entrepreneurs in BRICS member nations
"...DRC accounts for 70% of global [cobalt]. In nickel, the top 3 producers (Indonesia, Philippines & Russia) account for 2/3 of the market...for lithium, the top 3 producers (Australia, Chile & China) account for more than 90%"
• Taiwan: Alpha Ring, micro-fusion reactor firm producing energy free from radiation pollution and at lower temperatures than standard nuclear fusion systems
• Indonesia: A look at concerns around TikTok 'Project S', aiming to compete with Shein and Amazon but with TikTok selling only its own products
• Singapore: Grab ride-hail giant to acquire Trans-Cab, Singapore’s 3rd-largest taxi operator, gaining 2200 taxis, over 300 private-hire vehicles, fuel pump operations and more
• Malaysia: China's EVE Energy lithium battery manufacturer breaks ground on new manufacturing facility - its 53rd - in Kedah, with initial investment of $422M
• China: Switzerland's Energy Vault announces commissioning of first grid-scale energy storage system outside Shanghai, 'storing' electricity by elevating and lowering concrete blocks to power turbines
• India barred domestic manufacturers of military drones from using China-made components over security concerns across communication functions, cameras, radio transmission and software
• Japan: Miyako Capital, Kyoto Uni VC firm, creates $140M fund to back startups in deep-tech biology and artificial intelligence, with state-backed funds also participating
• China: Control on apps tightens with requirement to file business details with gov't, in part meaning overseas developers must have a company in China or work with a local publisher
Artificial intelligence: "Through 'hypnosis', we were able to get LLMs to leak confidential financial info of other users, create vulnerable code, create malicious code, and offer weak security recommendations."
• China: State-run Nat'l Natural Science Foundation launches $6.4M program for chiplets tech, adding to country's bid for semiconductor self-sufficiency
• Japan: Interstellar startup sets sights on orbital launch in 2025, focusing on small satellite market with vehicle designed to send near one metric ton to low-Earth orbit
• New Zealand: Aquila startup unveils potentially game-changing drone using solar power to charge as the vehicle flies, removing need to land for recharging
• India: New law passed, mandating how tech firms handle user data, raising censorship concerns from Editors Guild of India and Internet Freedom Foundation
• Australia: EnergyLab 2023 Climate Solutions Accelerator unveils 10 startups, working on solutions in batteries tech, solar panels, minerals recovery and more
• Japanese gov't to build Indo-Pacific information network to counter cyberattacks, providing equipment and training to Pacific island countries that lack countermeasures
• China: Xiaomi smartphone giant now blocking Telegram from devices using its MIUI system and firmware, raising concerns over control of access to information
"Baidu, ByteDance, Tencent & Alibaba have made orders worth $1BN to acquire about 100K A800 processors from [NVIDIA] to be delivered this year... further $4BN worth...to be delivered in 2024..."
• India: Garuda Aerospace drone maker partners Israel's Aero Sentinel and Titan Innovations, US-based Easy Aerial, and France's Azur Drones, seeing opportunity in concerns over China's DJI
• Singapore: X-PITCH 2023 applications are open to September 15th, this year running high-intensity 60-second pitch challenges on the Singapore River
• New Zealand: Security Intelligence Service published Security Threat Environment 2023 report, bringing to light foreign interference activities by China, Iran and Russia
• Australia: 8-week micro-course 'Australia & the Indo-Pacific - Understanding our strategic connections to Asia' commences September, via Perth USAsia Centre
• 'Social Media and the Fight For Political Influence in Southeast Asia - The use of digital communications platforms has transformed the region’s politics – both for good and for ill.'
• China: "...traders conducted $90BN in transactions on Binance despite a crypto trading ban in the country. [This] makes China Binance's biggest market, accounting for 20% of global volume."
• Australia: CSIRO Digital Infrastructure Energy Flexibility pilot to use software to control power usage of up to 200 buildings in New South Wales, seeing potential for new ecosystem of energy tech solutions
• Japan's SoftBank sues defunct IRL social firm for fraud, in the past having backed it at $1.2BN valuation, following revelation that 95% of users may have been fake
• China's Baichuan Intelligent Tech AI firm, just 4 months after formal launch, released its 3rd large language model, with this release its first 'closed-source' model, equipped with 53BN parameters
• Malaysia: Ministry of Science, Tech & Innovation announces that Cradle Fund has contributed $400M to GDP, and created over 80K jobs, since 2003 establishment, via grant and investment programs
• China: Xingji Meizu, smartphone/consumer-tech firm from Geely EV firm founder, to discontinue chip design and development business
• Kazakhstan: Astana to host Digital Bridge 2023 tech forum in October, looking at the role of artificial intelligence, and featuring Startup Alley and Astana Hub Battle pitch competition
'The European Commission will analyse the US ban on new US investment in China in sensitive technologies as the issue is also important to [EU] economic security...'
In wider-world tech news…
» Interpol takes down 16shop 'phishing-as-a-service' platform, believed to have supplied tools and kits to over 70K users in 43 countries
» PayPal rolls out stablecoin for payments and transfers, backed by US dollar deposits, short-term US Treasuries and similar cash equivalents
» NVIDIA chipmaker unveils Grace Hopper 'superchips', part of the company's AI-focused supercomputing platform built for large-scale generative AI workloads
» An intro to LongShot Space, a launch firm capable of sending payloads and projectiles to orbital velocities at hypersonic speeds
» Digital currencies: "First, cross-border CBDCs are likely to promote more global financial fragmentation, rather than less. It is very unlikely that a world run on CBDCs would be more seamless..."
"Google and Universal Music are in talks to license artists' melodies and voices for songs generated by artificial intelligence as the music business tries to monetise one of its biggest threats."