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Issue #3

Flying taxi wants to win over Paris, ‘coolness’ big to Gen Z, Spain prepares for world without rain, and more. 

News from February 8 - Feb 15, 2024

China Bets Big On Middle East Tech

A Saudi-backed Chinese venture capital firm is aiming to raise $1 billion to support Middle Eastern tech startups. It is the latest move by China to forge closer relationships with nations already skeptical of the West.

The firm, MSA Capital, is currently in talks with regional investors to finalize plans to launch the fund within the year. It would become the largest VC firm focused on the Middle East if it successfully raises the targeted amount. MSA Capital has already invested early in Tabby, a Saudi fintech unicorn, and also in global firms like Airbnb and Uber, showcasing its broad investment strategy. Ben Harburg, Managing Partner at MSA Capital: “Our objective is to play at later stages and write bigger tickets in those pre-IPO rounds, then we can take them public.”

Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund has been actively investing in tech firms and startups, reflecting the country’s efforts in diversifying its economy. Startups in the Kingdom raised $1.4 billion in 2023, putting it ahead of its main competitor, the UAE, for the first time.


Spain Prepares For World Without Rain

Catalonia, Spain’s economic powerhouse, is investing $2.6 billion to combat the threat of drought. It is a move that could see other countries adapting to a new worldwide climate reality of water scarcity and over-exploitation of water resources. More than ever, the public sector, utilities, and corporations need to look for new answers to address water-related challenges.

The investment focuses on desalination plants. Desalination is a process that removes salt from seawater, making it suitable for human consumption and irrigation. It is hoped it will reduce reliance on unpredictable rainfall. The region’s approach could serve as a model for other areas facing similar issues.


Microsoft Outsources AI To India

Microsoft has announced plans to train two million Indians in AI by 2025, targeting individuals in smaller cities and more rural areas. Critics accuse the company of “outsourcing” the “outsourcing.”

The initiative aims to drive inclusive socio-economic progress across India, with particular focus on tier-2 and tier-3 cities. The move is hoped to help India and the U.S. cooperate on AI norms and regulations.

Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft: “I hope consensus emerges and that is what really helps, in some sense, (with) the diffusion of this technology, referring to global attempts to draw up rules and regulate AI.” He added that he hopes the diffusion of AI globally would lead to “equal distribution of economic growth.”


Bulletin Board

  1. Nuclear Breakthrough Sparks Hope. In December last year, the U.S. National Ignition Facility achieved a fusion reaction that produced more energy than was put into it. This milestone has been an aim for the fusion research community for decades, paving the way to clean, unlimited energy. (Source)
  2. U.S. Replaces China With Mexico. For the first time in 20 years, Mexico has surpassed China as America’s top source of official imports. Last year, imports from China dropped 20% to $427.2 billion, compared to imports from Mexico totaling $475.6 billion for the same period. Reasons include trade tensions, tariffs maintained by both the Trump and Biden administrations, and companies diversifying their manufacturing to avoid geopolitical risks. (Source)
  3. Poll: ‘Coolness’ is Big to Gen Z. 69% of 13 to 39-year-olds say they are more likely to buy celebrity-backed brands that are considered ‘cool’. Top of the poll was Nike (69%), followed by YouTube (62%), and iPhone (62%). Brands like Apple who regularly innovate across its product ecosystem remain cool. Maryleigh Bliss, chief content officer at research organization YPulse: “When a celebrity that they like launches a brand, it gives it instant ‘cool’ because the popularity is baked into it.” (Source)
  4. AI Needs Sleep Like Humans. AI can better retain what it learns when it ‘sleeps’ like humans, and can even experience dream-like states. This new training method, called wake-sleep consolidated learning (WSCL), mirrors how human brains transfer short-term memories to long-term ones during sleep. Crucially, WSCL also has a period of “dreaming,” when the AI consumes entirely new data made from mashing together previous concepts. (Source)
  5. Flying Taxi Wants To Win Over Paris. Volocopter, a flying taxi designed for two passengers, is targeting the Paris Olympics to secure its safety credentials. Seeking up to 30 million euros for two years of demonstration flights around Paris, it aims for a safety standard 100 times higher than helicopters. Dirk Hoke, Volocopter's CEO: “If you can fly in Paris, you can fly in any city in the world. We will have support when people see and hear the flights and realize that they don't disturb city life.” (Source)

Disclaimer: This blog offers insights into international business and global events for informational purposes only. It is not intended as investment or business advice. WeavePay is not liable for any decisions made based on the content provided.

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