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London retains tech start-up crown: study

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LONDON: London is Europe’s most attractive city for technology start-ups, despite a sharp slowdown last year, a study showed Wednesday.

With Brexit looming, the Mayor’s promotional agency London & Partners said that £1.8 billion ($2.3 billion, 2.0 billion euros) was invested in fledgling tech businesses in 2018.

That represented a near 30-percent slump on 2017 and was the first slowdown in six years, L&P said in a statement.

But London’s 2018 total was still double the level of Berlin, which stood in second place at £936.53 million, while Paris was third with £797.04 million.

Investment is being propelled by a “significant” increase in funding for emerging sectors such as fintech — or financial technology — as well as Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain.

Britain continues to be a major force in European tech, with a growing stable of so-called “unicorns”, private companies that are worth more than $1.0 billion each. Such titans include online banks Monzo and Revolut.

Britain’s entire tech start-up sector raised almost £2.5 billion last year, down 20.2 percent from 2017.

However, the comparison was skewed because 2017 saw vast deals, including food courier Deliveroo, virtual reality specialist Improbable and money transfer firm TransferWise, that did not materialise last year.

 

 

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Apple’s Tim Cook urges China to continue to open up its economy

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BEIJING: Apple chief executive Tim Cook on Saturday urged China to keep opening up its economy as local rivals bit into the profits of the US tech giant caught in the crosshairs of a trade spat between Beijing and Washington.

“We have seen China continue to change and evolve… We encourage China to continue to open up,” he said during a speech at the annual China Development Forum in Beijing on Saturday.

“We see that as essential not only for China to reach its full potential, but also for the global economy to thrive.”

Apple in January revealed that it took a hit in the “Greater China” region, where revenue plunged almost 27 percent in the most recent quarter.

The dip had been expected following the company’s revenue warning in December, where Apple admitted that iPhone sales and overall earnings would be below most forecasts, citing economic weakness in China and trade frictions between Washington and Beijing.

Lower priced local rivals such as Huawei, Xiaomi and Oppo have also been nibbling at the California tech giant’s market share in China.

Cook has been a critic of the US-China trade war that has spooked global markets. Last year, he used the China Development Forum as a venue to urge leaders of China and the US to let “calm heads prevail” and to avoid an escalation of tariffs.

Most of Apple’s flagship products are assembled in China, leaving the California tech giant acutely vulnerable to Trump’s tariffs.

During his speech on Saturday, Cook called for partnerships based on “openness and trust” where world players can work together to solve some of the biggest problems facing the planet including poverty, inequality and climate change.

 

 

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NASA publishes images of the meteor no one saw

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WASHINGTON: NASA on Friday published satellite photos of a powerful meteor which appeared just above the Bering Sea on December 18 but went unnoticed until months later.

The explosion unleashed around 173 kilotons of energy, more than 10 times that of the atomic bomb blast over Hiroshima in World War II.

Images captured minutes after the fireball disintegrated in the atmosphere show the shadow of the meteor’s trail cast on top of clouds, elongated by the sun’s low position.

The super-heated air turns the clouds to an orange tint in the meteor’s wake.

The photographs were taken by two NASA instruments on board the Terra satellite.

A still image was taken at 2350 GMT, while five of the of nine cameras on the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) instrument took another sequence of photos at 2355, which NASA collated into a GIF that shows the orange trail NASA estimates that the meteor occurred at 23:48 GMT.

Meteors are rocks from outer space that become incandescent upon entering earth’s atmosphere as a result of friction. They are also known as shooting stars. Pieces which survive intact and hit the ground are known as meteorites.

It was the most powerful explosion in the atmosphere since the fireball that burst over the Russian town of Chelyabinsk in 2013. That was 440 kilotons, and left 1,500 people injured, mostly from glass flying out of smashed windows.

This time around, the blast occurred over waters, hundreds of kilometers off the Russian coast.

The first photo of the event was taken by a Japanese weather satellite and published only this week.

 

 

 

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Sino-European joint space mission to send satellites in 2023

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Sino-European joint space

BEIJING: The Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) announced that a Sino-European joint space mission known as SMILE was launched Friday.

The Solar Wind Magnetosphere Ionosphere Link Explorer is a comprehensive collaboration between the CAS and the European Space Agency (ESA).

Satellites will be launched by 2023 to study the impact of solar activity on the Earth’s environment.

Wang Chi, director of National Space Science Center under the CAS, said the SMILE program would create images of interaction between solar winds and the Earth’s magnetosphere with innovative X-ray and ultraviolet technologies.

It will achieve an overall imaging of large-scale structure of the Earth’s space, which plays an important role in predicting and mitigating weather disasters, according to Wang.

SMILE has gathered the world’s leading resources in space weather. The UK Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency will also participate.

China and Europe are responsible for the construction and operation of the application system. The data obtained by satellites in orbit will be available to all participating countries.

 

 

 

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