Roundup – China backs chipmakers; Mercedes unveils electric vehicle investment
Amazon deepens tech-sector gloom with another 9,000 layoffs
On Monday the e-commerce giant said it would slash a further 9,000 roles adding to the wave of layoffs that has flooded the technology sector. Amazon will have eliminated 27,000 positions in recent months, or 9% of its roughly 300,000-strong corporate workforce. The latest cuts focus on Amazon’s highly-profitable cloud and advertising divisions. They will also affect its streaming unit Twitch. Dan Clancy, who was named as CEO of Twitch last week, said the platform will lay off more than 400 employees. Amazon aims to finalise the terminations by April.
China gives chipmakers new powers to guide industry recovery
According to the FT, China is giving some of its most successful chip companies easier access to subsidies and more control over state-backed research as tightening US controls on access to advanced technology force a major rethink in Beijing’s approach to supporting the sector. The closer co-operation with a select group of companies comes after the government shook up its tech strategy this month with the creation of a new Communist party science commission and a reinvigorated Ministry of Science and Technology.
The chosen few, including chipmakers Semiconductor Manufacturing International (SMIC), Hua Hong Semiconductor and Huawei, will have access to additional government funding without having to achieve performance goals that were previously necessary. They will also be able to play a bigger role in state-backed research projects, reducing the influence of state-owned companies and academic institutes.
Mercedes to inject billions in e-vehicles plants
The money will focus on modernising its plants in China, Germany and Hungary over the coming years as the carmaker prepares to go electric by the end of the this decade, where market conditions allow.
“We are investing a three-digit million amount per plant for the run up,” said production manager Joerg Burzer, adding that these investments will be at the plants in Beijing, Rastatt in Germany and Kecskemet in Hungary.
The modernisation aims to cut energy and water consumption, and the painting system’s reliance on gas, as opposed to carbon-free energy. Mercedes is also considering expanding its US plant in Tuscaloosa, where it can benefit from government subsidies.
UK Space Agency backs Rolls-Royce nuclear power for Moon exploration
Scientists and engineers at Rolls-Royce are working on a Micro-Reactor programme to develop technology that will provide power needed for humans to live and work on the Moon. The UK Space Agency has announced £2.9 million of new funding for the project which will deliver an initial demonstration of a UK lunar modular nuclear reactor.
“Partnerships like this, between British industry, the UK Space Agency and government are helping to create jobs across our £16 billion SpaceTech sector and help ensure the UK continues to be a major force in frontier science,” said MoS at the Department of Science, Innovation and Technology, George Freeman. Rolls-Royce plan to have a reactor ready by 2029.
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