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Asia's tech news, weekly: August 22nd 2023
Indonesian QR payments, Taiwan & quantum tech, lithium in China, CBDC in Cambodia, cybercrime in Australia, Indian defense drones, Japan & Pacific Islands...
• South Korea's Innospace and Equatorial Launch Australia ink multi-launch contract for orbital launches in north-east Arnhem Land
• Japanese gov't to build Indo-Pacific information network to counter cyberattacks, providing equipment and training to Pacific island countries that lack countermeasures
• 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: Arizona's Moov Technologies, large-scale marketplace for used semiconductor equipment, to open new office in Taipei, building on secondary semicon market presence
“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...”
• China's Baichuan Intelligent Tech AI firm, just 4 months after launch, releases 3rd large language model, this release its first 'closed-source' model, with 53BN parameters
• Indonesia: Central bank adds QRIS Tuntas to nat'l payments system, enabling cash transfers, withdrawals and deposits, including e-wallet users without bank accounts
• India: Garuda Aerospace drone maker inks partnerships with Israel's Aero Sentinel and Titan Innovations, US-based Easy Aerial, and France's Azur Drones, seeing opportunity in security concerns over China's DJI
• Taiwan: UK's Crypto Quantique expands in Taiwan with quantum encryption tech for semiconductor and IoT spaces, partnering Andes Technology processor manufacturer
• China: Two lithium mine auctions in Sichuan province received near 7K bids with prices hundreds of times higher than starting levels
• South Korea: SK Telecom makes $100M investment in Anthropic AI firm, aiming for multilingual LLM focused on telco-specific use cases
• Australia: University of Canberra, ACT Gov't and NetApp launch Open Source Institute to boost research, collaboration and innovation in open source technologies
• Startup Island TAIWAN inks MOU with Arizona's Greater Phoenix Economic Council to boost collaboration and investment opportunities
Cambodia's digital currency: "...for QR code-based digital payments between Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.... has 8.5M users and handled around $15BN in payments by the end of last year."
• Singapore: Beep launches VoltNet, network of 1350 EV charging points from 11 operators, with sights on 5000km charging 'highway' spanning 5 countries
• China: Evergrande, defaulted property firm, gains $500M for EV unit from Dubai's NWTN green mobility firm, delivering 27.5% stake in China Evergrande New EV Group
• India-produced equipment for China's Tiangong space station hits export license delay, seen as likely in part due to border clashes and national security concerns
• Australia: "Ninety per cent of Victorian government agencies were targeted in cyberattacks last year, exposing critical services to serious disruption..."
• Australian Renewable Energy Agency to invest Au$20M in Hysata to build out hydrogen electrolyser tech at commercial scale, with approach producing hydrogen with 95% efficiency
• Japan Org’n for Metals & Energy Security partners Namibia's Epangelo mining firm for rare earths exploration, seeking supply chain for cobalt and other minerals
• Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries backed Advanced Ionics, US-based startup producing hydrogen with 30% less power consumption and at lower temperatures
• India: Foxconn to commence iPhone 15 production in Tamil Nadu prior to the device's September launch, marking steps to mitigate China-related supply risks
"...steepest fall in funding was witnessed in SE Asia, at 58.6%. Startups headquartered in the region raised $2.13 billion in the second quarter, compared with $5.13 billion in the same quarter of 2022"
• Taiwan: "...positioned to create...'red-free' or 'China-free' defense supply chains that friendly countries, such as Australia and Japan, could leverage for their own military logistics"
• Australia: auDA internet domain administrator hit by 15GB data breach, with hackers threatening to sell access to auDA user bank account details
• India: Tech Mahindra IT and consulting major partners Spain's Anyverse for computer vision solutions in autonomous driving, using AI to train, test and validate
• Japan's Fermelanta takes pitch competition win, with use of bacteria to produce high-value secondary metabolites including morphine
• India: Reserve Bank launches pilot for Public Tech Platform for Frictionless Credit, with wide-ranging goals and future plans
• Cambodia: Singapore's Boost Capital intro’s chat-based loan applications for the unbanked and underbanked, aiming to make processes cheaper and more efficient
• Japan's SoftBank sues defunct IRL social app firm for fraud, in the past having backed it at $1.2BN valuation, following news that 95% of users may have been fake
• India: Global Fintech Fest 2023 set for September 5-7 in Mumbai, with 800 speakers scheduled for the 3-day event
"...critical minerals took on greater urgency after Beijing imposed export controls...on the strategic metals gallium and germanium, raising global fears that China could block exports...or processing technology..."
• China: OPPO and Huawei add AI-driven voice-based assistants to products, including Huawei's HarmonyOS
• Indonesia: An intro to Rebricks, making construction bricks from single-use plastics
• Australia: 7-Eleven Australia to trial Grabango computer vision-based system in some stores allowing customers to purchase as they browse
• Indian Air Force awards major contract to Veda Aeronautics for domestically-produced drones focusing on swarm activities
• South Asian Australian Startup Founders List and Insights Report now available, 101 founders who collectively raised over $1.1BN, and employ over 2200 people
• Kazakhstan: Digital Bridge 2023 tech forum set for October, looking at artificial intelligence and featuring Startup Alley and Astana Hub Battle pitch comp
• Malaysia: Ministry of Science, Tech & Innovation notes that Cradle Fund has contributed $400M to GDP, and created over 80K jobs, since 2003 establishment
• India: A look at BoAt and Noise, Indian smart wearables brands looking at smart rings as the next wave of wearable tech in the country
"AI makes everything that's wrong with the labor-based billing system even worse... You solve a problem quicker, so you bill your client for fewer hours and you therefore earn less money."
• Australia: evokeAG Future Young Leaders Program applications are open to September 4, seeking 5 agri-tech innovators
• Taiwan's Foxconn India arm announces close to $10BN annual earnings, accounting for more than 5% of Foxconn business globally
• Australia: Woolworths partners Goterra startup to use Black Soldier Fly larvae to reduce food waste on-site by 95% in just 24 hours, producing fertiliser and protein meal
• South Korea: Google ChangGoo Program has invested $88M to incubate near 500 South Korean startups to date, in collaboration with the Ministry of SMEs & Startups
In wider-world tech news…
» General Motors to lead $60M Mitra Chem investment, firm using AI to develop lithium-ion battery materials seeking less-expensive and supply-chain safer EV energy
» Russia commences CBDC pilot with 13 banks, around 600 individuals, 30 firms, and 11 cities participating, likely in hope blockchain can help evade sanctions, whilst also tightening control on citizens
» Multiple US firms cyber-attacked with phishing email pushing fake update to Microsoft 365 account settings via QR code, likely grown from June/July test attacks
» Twitter / X removal of 'block' feature "…would likely also result in the removal of the X app from both Apple's App Store and Google’s Google Play."
"...Namibia banned exports of raw lithium; Chile increased state control over lithium... Mexico plunged its nascent lithium industry into uncertainty...Indonesia added export controls on bauxite..."