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Tech Time: LG invests trillions in advanced tech; Baidu to form AI-focused fund

In this feature, S&P Global Market Intelligence presents a bi-weekly global roundup of the latest developments in technology.

TOP STORIES

* The LG Group is looking to spend 19 trillion South Korean won on advanced technologies and production centers in 2018, around 8% more than its original projection, the Nikkei Asian Review reported Dec. 13. The conglomerate reportedly intends to focus on areas such as automated driving, organic light-emitting diode display panels and biotechnology.

* Baidu Inc.'s venture capital unit Baidu Ventures will partner with the Rain Fund of Funds to form a 2-billion-yuan fund for artificial intelligence in Guangzhou Development District in China's Guangdong province, Yicai Global reported Dec. 11, citing Southern Metropolis Daily. The fund is reportedly the country's largest AI-focused venture capital fund.

CLOUD

* Amazon.com Inc. unit Amazon Web Services Inc. on Dec. 18 launched a cloud services region in Paris as part of a global expansion.

* Microsoft Corp. is vying with global tech giants for an over $100 billion business opportunity in India amid the country's ongoing digital transformation, IANS reported Dec. 13. Local companies are focusing on "intelligent edge" and "intelligent cloud."

* Amazon Web Services said Dec. 12 that it teamed up with cloud services provider Ningxia Western Cloud Data Technology Co. Ltd. to launch a second AWS location in China's Ningxia region.

5G AND THE INTERNET OF THINGS

* Ooredoo unit Ooredoo Kuwait tapped Ericsson AB to supply IoT-based products to boost its network offering, Telecompaper reported Dec. 20.

* Vodafone Group Plc named Stefano Gastaut as its global director for IoT, effective Jan. 1, 2018, Telecompaper reported Dec. 19.

* IoT network operator WND Brasil aims to complete the rollout of its network to capitals of all Brazilian states by the end of the first quarter of 2018, Telecompaper reported Dec. 19. The company revealed that its Sigfox network has already reached 100 million people across the country.

* Deutsche Telekom AG tapped Ericsson to upgrade its mobile network prior to the anticipated rollout of 5G technology, Ericsson said Dec. 14.

* Liquid Telecommunications Holdings Ltd. unit CEC Liquid Telecommunications struck a partnership with technology and innovation hub BongoHive to help gaming and IoT development startups in Zambia get improved access to high-speed internet and cloud services, according to a Dec. 14 news release.

VIRTUAL REALITY AND ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

* VR startup Dreamscape Immersive Inc. closed a $30 million series B financing round led by AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. with the addition of new investors, AMC Entertainment said Dec. 13.

* Alphabet Inc. unit Google Inc. on Dec. 13 announced the launch of the Google AI China Center, an AI research center in Beijing.

DRONES AND OTHER DEVICES

* Owners of Apple Inc.'s Watch Series 3 with LTE in China will be able to return the product beyond the 14-day return policy, after the device's cellular connectivity was suspended in September, Technode reported Dec. 19.

* A White House official claimed that Facebook Inc. and Microsoft thwarted a number of cyberattacks by the North Koreans in the week of Dec. 11, Reuters reported Dec. 19.

* Apple said Dec. 13 that it is awarding component maker Finisar Corp. $390 million to help ramp up production and boost its R&D efforts for vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers, or VCSELs.

* U.S. President Donald Trump on Dec. 12 signed into law the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, which includes a ban on the use of Kaspersky Lab ZAO products in U.S. government agencies.

* South Korea's Ministry of Science and Information and Communications Technology announced a 10-year road map on developing autonomous vehicles as it aims to become a global leader in the sector by 2030, Yonhap News Agency reported Dec. 7. The Ministry plans to focus on boosting the development of passenger drones, self-driving cars, unmanned ships and autonomous agricultural machines.

* Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Ford Motor Co. announced Dec. 7 a three-year agreement to explore opportunities in areas such as mobility services, connectivity, cloud computing, AI and digital marketing.