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Asia's tech news, weekly: September 5th 2023
India & New Zealand talk UPI, Shanghai metaverses, Malaysian startups, Japanese microchips, new Korean tech center, China's major EV refocus, India's swarm drones...
• Vietnam: Central bank officially enters Regional Payment Connectivity initiative, joining central banks of Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand
• India: GalaxEye satellite-tech firm unveils Synthetic Aperture Radar to deliver high-res all-weather imaging via constellation, providing global coverage within 12 hours
• China's Shein 'fast fashion' giant takes 1/3 stake in Forever 21's SPARC Group, bringing 150M users to Shein's platform and opening Forever 21 US retail locations for Shein growth
• New Zealand: Gov't announces intention to enact digital services tax from 2025 to address revenue generated by Apple, Amazon et al who funnel profits to low-tax jurisdictions
EVs & public charger risks: "...connected to the grid, it’s connected to the cloud... periodically connected to your auto, it’s probably connected to your phone... connected to your bank..."
• India enters talks to bring UPI - Unified Payments Interface - to New Zealand to streamline business payments, boost trade and lift tourism between the two
• China: Shanghai sets sights on the metaverse as key driver of economic development, establishing a $1.4BN fund to create 30 culture and tourism metaverse projects by end of 2025
• Australia: RayGen energy firm opens $27M solar plant of over 1000 rotating mirrors, also capturing excess heat as hot water to drive generator system
• India: Google unveils 'India-tuned' generative AI-powered Search with voice readouts of results and voice queries - but only in English and Hindi so far
• Australia: Samsara Eco unveils R&D facility to scale patented enzymatic capabilities towards 'infinite recycling' of plastics, aiming to process 1.5M tonnes per annum by 2030
• China sets sights on RISC-V industry with Alibaba T-Head chip unit, VeriSilicon and 7 others forming patent alliance on the open-source architecture, challenging reliance on Intel and Arm
• Malaysia: PM sets target of 5K new startups in the country's digital economy by 2025, with 'single window' initiative to streamline cooperation between industry and gov't agencies
• Myanmar: People's Defense Forces fundraising for military coup resistance boosted by The PDF Game and mobile ad revenues
Apps & autocrats: "Without the corporate content moderation that exists on open social media platforms such as Facebook... they are able to pump out massive quantities of propaganda..."
• South Korea: 2nd Pangyo Techno Valley scheduled for completion by year-end, featuring Metaverse Campus, Global Game Hub Center, Information Security Cluster and more
• China: Researchers identify theoretical approach to produce 2D, one-atom-thick semiconductors, potentially a complement to current chip technologies
• Vietnam: ThinkZone Ventures early-stage VC preps for $50M 3rd fund, focused on international firms utilizing Vietnam's workforce or those building their first product in Vietnam
• Taiwan: AI program to assist with drafting court rulings potentially to begin trial run late September, using system jointly developed by the Judicial Yuan and Chunghwa Telecom
• India: Ministry of Textiles to provide grant-in-aid of up to $5M for 18-month R&D to innovate in niche 'technical textiles' for industrial, medical, auto, aerospace and similar uses
• China Mobile, delisted from NYSE over military ties, proposes social-credit styled metaverse regulations featuring digital ID tied to user occupation, accessible by law enforcement
• Japan: Gov't-backed Rapidus Corp hires over 200 in move to create cutting-edge chip foundry by 2027, potentially challenging Taiwan's TSMC if successful
• Malaysia: China's xFusion, computer power and infra services firm, partners Malaysia's NationGate for RM1.7BN global supply centre in Penang
New Zealand: "Icehouse Ventures' annual Showcase has become New Zealand's most important night for startups. It's also a strange, enjoyable piece of quasi-pop culture in its own right"
• China: A look at Changzhi city's flywheel energy storage facility, the country's first grid-level implementation, set to commence operation in December
• Macau's Zence Object gains $2.5M from Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund with tech turning organic waste - mainly tea leaves - into plastic and paper alternatives
• Meta enacts largest-to-date takedown, removing 7704 Facebook accounts, 954 FB pages, 15 FB groups and 15 Instagram accounts linked to China-run disinformation
• China: Inceptio driver-assist tech firm sees 2024 growth for very long-distance trucking, aiming for firms to run 1 driver rather than 2, reducing costs 5-7%
• Malaysia Digital Economy Corp and Airbnb in MoU to collaborate on DE Rantau initiative, aiming to establish Malaysia as global hub for digital nomads
• China: State-run Changan, a CATL and Huawei-backed EV firm, raises $410M despite months of lackluster sales of first EV model, with addition of new state-affiliated backers
• South Korean Ministry of SMEs & Startups to open K-Tech College for software training and job placements with Korean startups for students from developing nations
• China: XPeng to buy out Didi smart electric car division with sights on 2024 new mass-market EV brand launch, with VW recently investing $700M
TikTok & Oracle: "ByteDance had planned to place a camera above each Oracle employee... Oracle pushed back, saying the cameras would enable ByteDance to see their passwords and..."
• China's Gotion battery maker, part-owned by VW, to take 25% stake in Slovakia's Inobat battery maker, with sights on European markets for EV batteries and energy storage
• Philippines: Huawei Cloud Finance Summit Philippines 2023 event builds on Huawei Cloud's 20-fold growth in just 4 years to become the fastest-growing APAC cloud service
• China: Hozon EV firm, also known as Neta Auto, raises $960M pre-IPO financing with sights on further $1BN via Hong Kong IPO in October
• "Hell Energy Drink...mainly operating in Europe and Asia, announced the launch of HELL AI, a drink developed, designed and 'tasted' by AI."
• India: Veda Defence Systems wins $36M Indian Air Force order for 200 150km-range swarm drones, set for deployment within 12 months
• Philippines: A brief intro to the 9 Filipino tech firms on Forbes Asia's 100 To Watch list, working in e-commerce, point-of-sale, agri-tech and more
• China: State-owned SAIC to JV with QingTao Energy for solid-state batteries, with sights on vehicle ranges over 1000km, fast-charge batteries and 100K vehicles in use by 2025
• China: Baidu, SenseTime, ByteDance, Tencent and others launched AI chatbots less than two weeks after formal 24-point gov't AI legislation was enacted
"If Huawei is constructing facilities under names of other companies...it may be able to circumvent US gov't restrictions to indirectly purchase American chip-making equipment..."
• Malaysia: MYStartup NXT Penang micro-conference for founders, investors & developers is set for September 13-14
• FinTech Festival Thailand 2023, part of FinTech Festival Asia, set for September 27-28
• GSMA's Mobile360 APAC Conference 2023 set for Seoul, South Korea, September 7-8, looking at tech including AI, 5G, telecoms networks and more
• Australia: Startup to Scaleup Summit 2023 set for November 16th in Sydney Startup Hub, featuring Demo Showcase, Pitch Comp and a range of speakers
In wider-world technology news:
» United Arab Emirates' G42 project launches open-source bilingual Arabic-English AI large language model
» US Nat'l Institute of Standards & Tech commences standardization of 4 algorithms for use in encryption infrastructure, safeguarding against quantum hacking
» US Energy Dep't to make conditional $398M loan guarantee to Eos Energy battery manufacturer for up to 4 production lines for grid-scale zinc-bromine battery storage systems
» Synthetaic gains 5-year Microsoft partnership and near 1M hours of cloud computing with AI-backed imaging used recently to track China surveillance balloon
"...a token backed by Turkey's lira (TRY), one of the most volatile fiat currencies globally, has become one of the world's leading non-US-dollar-pegged stablecoins."
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