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innovfest unbound returns to Singapore in its fourth year, expecting biggest turn-out yet

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innovfest unbound returns to Singapore in its fourth year, expecting biggest turn-out yet

innovfest unbound, Southeast Asia’s largest, most exciting and award-winning innovation festival, will be celebrating its fourth year of connecting disruptive innovations and encouraging entrepreneurship in Asia. To be held on 5th and 6th June 2018, over 12,000 entrepreneurs, brands, corporates, government agencies, institutes of higher learning, investors and tech startups across more than 100 countries will gather to exchange ideas, forge new partnerships and celebrate digital disruption at Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre.

Leading the conversation on innovation

Co-Chaired by Yossi Vardi and Lily Chan, the award-winning innovfest unbound is the anchor event of Singapore’s Smart Nation Innovations Week. It is jointly organised by Unbound and NUS Enterprise, the entrepreneurial arm of the National University of Singapore, and in partnership with Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA).

Visitors to this year’s event can expect an exciting line-up of keynotes and panels from over 300 speakers including the biggest names across industries, such as Grab’s Anthony Tan, National Gallery’s Chong Siak Ching, Tencent’s Steven Chang, ONE Championship’s Chatri Sityodtong, Circles.Life’s Rameez Ansar, The LEGO Group’s Marjorie Lao, The Walt Disney Company’s Mahesh Samat and Kuek Yu-Chuang from Netflix.

“innovfest unbound’s growth since 2015 — with ever more attendees and speakers from all industries, spanning the biggest names to the most disruptive startups — is testament to the power and significance of innovation in today’s digital age,” said Daniel Seal, founder and CEO of Unbound. “At Unbound, we are passionate about driving the innovation conversation and creating mutually beneficial connections between forward-thinking brands and investors with startups and the cutting-edge technologies.”

“innovfest unbound is unique. Every year, we have seen entrepreneurs, corporates, VCs, innovators, researchers, students and policy makers congregate to make the right connections and learn from the leading opinion makers and domain experts,” said Lily Chan, CEO, NUS Enterprise. “The event acts as a catalyst to encourage and empower the next generation of entrepreneurs, leaders and game changers; helping to drive innovation and enterprise across the region.”

This year’s key content pillars will focus on the following topics: Artificial Intelligence, e-Commerce & Payment, Internet of Things, Immersive Media & Storytelling, The Digital Consumer & Generation Z, Future Talent and Open Innovation.

Four satellite stages will also be making a return since launch last year, ensuring attendees gain maximum value at the event by drilling down into the tech trends of 2018:

convergence — Local and global marketers, brands, media owners and creative agencies will come together to examine how to can harness the power of adtech.
futurenow — A showcase for universities, corporations and startups as they explore the future of healthcare, manufacturing and the digital economy.
arise — Explores emerging trends in Artificial Intelligence and how it will affect the way we live and work in the years to come Einstein — Created in collaboration with Salesforce, Einstein focuses on the challenges, opportunities and trends in AI, Data, Cloud and Finance

New for 2018, attendees will also have the opportunity to attend a proptech forum, Proptech Unleashed, hosted by JLL on 6th June, and explore the impact of smart cities, how real estate technology is changing our lives and how corporates can successfully innovate to keep up.

Providing entrepreneurs with a springboard for greater innovation

innovfest unbound 2018 will feature several notable key events that will support the transformation of the region’s startup ecosystem.

[email protected] ASEAN will take place this year at innovfest unbound to help ASEAN Entrepreneurs develop connections with the [email protected] global network of Entrepreneurs. The event is hosted by The Duke of York, and provides a platform to amplify and accelerate the work of Entrepreneurs. 20 Entrepreneurs will be selected to Pitch at [email protected] ASEAN on 5th June, 2018, and will have the opportunity to be coached by mentors who are leading investors, business executives and influencers in their respective fields and network with potential supporters for their businesses. The Winners will be invited to Pitch at [email protected] Global 3.0 at St. James’s Palace in London in December 2018.

The unbound50 ASEAN, powered by Accenture, will make its debut this year, showcasing 50 of Asia’s most exciting and innovative startups in a dedicated area. Inspiring tech startups will be chosen to win a free exhibition stand, gain exposure to investors and corporate representatives, as well as have access to pitch sessions and competitions.
Data and AI-driven startups can look forward to the Unilever Foundry Startup Battle on the Main Stage of innovfest unbound. The competition will showcase groundbreaking startups with a solution or product in the Marketing, Advertising, E-commerce, or Retail vertical. Winners will receive $5,000 cash prize and the opportunity to work with Unilever Foundry.

The HSBC Hexagon Hive at innovfest unbound is an exclusive networking space with have the opportunity to connect with the HSBC’s network of private and institutional investors, large corporates, startups and in-house financial experts, with pitch sessions and prizes of $30,000
innovfest unbound started in 2015 and has grown to become Southeast Asia’s largest innovation festival, welcoming over 11,000 registrations and more than 3,000 international delegates in 2017, with Unbound awarded “Best Trade Conference Organizer” at the Singapore Tourism Board Awards. For 2018, innovfest unbound is expecting an even more diverse turnout, with over 400 exhibitors, 5,000 startup participants and 6,000 corporate representatives.

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Oil extends losses as Texas prepares to ramp up output

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Oil extends losses as Texas prepares to ramp up output 1

By Devika Krishna Kumar

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Oil prices fell for a second day on Friday, retreating further from recent highs as Texas energy companies began preparations to restart oil and gas fields shuttered by freezing weather.

Brent crude futures were down 33 cents, or 0.5%, at $63.60 a barrel by 11:06 a.m. (1606 GMT) U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell 60 cents, or 1%, to $59.92.

This week, both benchmarks had climbed to the highest in more than a year.

“Price pullback thus far appears corrective and is slight within the context of this month’s major upside price acceleration,” said Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch and Associates.

Unusually cold weather in Texas and the Plains states curtailed up to 4 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude production and 21 billion cubic feet of natural gas, analysts estimated.

Texas refiners halted about a fifth of the nation’s oil processing amid power outages and severe cold.

Companies were expected to prepare for production restarts on Friday as electric power and water services slowly resume, sources said.

“While much of the selling relates to a gradual resumption of power in the Gulf coast region ahead of a significant temperature warmup, the magnitude of this week’s loss of supply may require further discounting given much uncertainty regarding the extent and possible duration of lost output,” Ritterbusch said.

Oil fell despite a surprise drop in U.S. crude stockpiles in the week to Feb. 12, before the big freeze. Inventories fell by 7.3 million barrels to 461.8 million barrels, their lowest since March, the Energy Information Administration reported on Thursday. [EIA/S]

The United States on Thursday said it was ready to talk to Iran about returning to a 2015 agreement that aimed to prevent Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Still, analysts did not expect near-term reversal of sanctions on Iran that were imposed by the previous U.S. administration.

“This breakthrough increases the probability that we may see Iran returning to the oil market soon, although there is much to be discussed and a new deal will not be a carbon-copy of the 2015 nuclear deal,” said StoneX analyst Kevin Solomon.

(Additional reporting by Ahmad Ghaddar in London and Roslan Khasawneh in Singapore and Sonali Paul in Melbourne; Editing by Jason Neely, David Goodman and David Gregorio)

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Analysis: Carmakers wake up to new pecking order as chip crunch intensifies

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Analysis: Carmakers wake up to new pecking order as chip crunch intensifies 2

By Douglas Busvine and Christoph Steitz

BERLIN (Reuters) – The semiconductor crunch that has battered the auto sector leaves carmakers with a stark choice: pay up, stock up or risk getting stuck on the sidelines as chipmakers focus on more lucrative business elsewhere.

Car manufacturers including Volkswagen, Ford and General Motors have cut output as the chip market was swept clean by makers of consumer electronics such as smartphones – the chip industry’s preferred customers because they buy more advanced, higher-margin chips.

The semiconductor shortage – over $800 worth of silicon is packed into a modern electric vehicle – has exposed the disconnect between an auto industry spoilt by decades of just-in-time deliveries and an electronics industry supply chain it can no longer bend to its will.

“The car sector has been used to the fact that the whole supply chain is centred around cars,” said McKinsey partner Ondrej Burkacky. “What has been overlooked is that semiconductor makers actually do have an alternative.”

Automakers are responding to the shortage by lobbying governments to subsidize the construction of more chip-making capacity.

In Germany, Volkswagen has pointed the finger at suppliers, saying it gave them timely warning last April – when much global car production was idled due to the coronavirus pandemic – that it expected demand to recover strongly in the second half of the year.

That complaint by the world’s No.2 volume carmaker cuts little ice with chipmakers, who say the auto industry is both quick to cancel orders in a slump and to demand investment in new production in a recovery.

“Last year we had to furlough staff and bear the cost of carrying idle capacity,” said a source at one European semiconductor maker, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“If the carmakers are asking us to invest in new capacity, can they please tell us who will pay for that idle capacity in the next downturn?”

LOW-TECH CUSTOMER

The auto industry spends around $40 billion a year on chips – about a tenth of the global market. By comparison, Apple spends more on chips just to make its iPhones, Mirabaud tech analyst Neil Campling reckons.

Moreover, the chips used in cars tend to be basic products such as micro controllers made under contract at older foundries – hardly the leading-edge production technology in which chipmakers would be willing to invest.

“The suppliers are saying: ‘If we continue to produce this stuff there is nowhere else for it to go. Sony isn’t going to use it for a Playstation 5 or Apple for its next iPhone’,” said Asif Anwar at Strategy Analytics.

Chipmakers were surprised by the panicked reaction of the German car industry, which persuaded Economy Minister Peter Altmaier to write a letter in January to his counterpart in Taiwan to ask its semiconductor makers to supply more chips.

No extra supplies were forthcoming, with one German industry source joking that the Americans stood a better chance of getting more chips from Taiwan because they could at least park an aircraft carrier off the coast – referring to the ability of the United States to project power in Asia.

Closer to home, a source at another European chipmaker expressed disbelief at the poor understanding at one carmaker of how it operates.

“We got a call from one auto maker that was desperate for supply. They said: Why don’t you run a night shift to increase production?” this person said.

“What they didn’t understand is that we have been running a night shift since the beginning.”

NO QUICK FIX

While Infineon, the leading supplier of chips to the global auto industry, and Robert Bosch, the top ‘Tier 1’ parts supplier, both plan to commission new chip plants this year, there is little chance of supply shortages easing soon.

Specialist chipmakers like Infineon outsource some production of automotive chips to contract manufacturers led by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC), but the Asian foundries are currently prioritising high-end electronics makers as they come up against capacity constraints.

Over the longer term, the relationship between chip makers and the car industry will become closer as electric vehicles are more widely adopted and features such as assisted and autonomous driving develop, requiring more advanced chips.

But, in the short term, there is no quick fix for the lack of chip supply: IHS Markit estimates that the time it takes to deliver a microcontroller has doubled to 26 weeks and shortages will only bottom out in March.

That puts the production of 1 million light vehicles at risk in the first quarter, says IHS Markit. European chip industry executives and analysts agree that supply will not catch up with demand until later in the year.

Chip shortages are having a “snowball effect” as auto makers idle some capacity to prioritize building profitable models, said Anwar at Strategy Analytics, who forecasts a drop in car production in Europe and North America of 5%-10% in 2021.

The head of Franco-Italian chipmaker STMicroelectronics, Jean-Marc Chery, forecasts capacity constraints will affect carmakers until mid-year.

“Up to the end of the second quarter, the industry will have to manage at the lean inventory level,” Chery told a recent Goldman Sachs conference.

(Douglas Busvine from Berlin and Christoph Steitz from Frankfurt; Additional reporting by Mathieu Rosemain and Gilles Gillaume in Paris; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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Aussie and sterling hit multi-year highs on recovery bets

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Aussie and sterling hit multi-year highs on recovery bets 3

By Tommy Wilkes

LONDON (Reuters) – The Australian dollar rose to near a three-year high and the British pound scaled $1.40 for the first time since 2018 on optimism about economic rebounds in the two countries and after the U.S. dollar was knocked by disappointing jobs data.

The U.S. currency had been rising in recent days as a jump in Treasury yields on the back of the so-called reflation trade drew investors. But an unexpected increase in U.S. weekly jobless claims soured the economic outlook and sent the dollar lower overnight.

On Friday it traded down 0.3% against a basket of currencies, with the dollar index at 90.309.

The Aussie rose 0.8% to $0.784, its highest since March 2018. The currency, which is closely linked to commodity prices and the outlook for global growth, has been helped by a recent rally in commodity prices.

The New Zealand dollar also gained, and was not far off a more than two-year high, while the Canadian dollar rose too.

Sterling rose to $1.4009 on Friday, an almost three-year high amid Britain’s aggressive vaccination programme.

Given the size of Britain’s vital services sector, analysts say the faster it can reopen the economy, the better for the currency. Sterling was also helped by better-than-expected purchasing managers index flash survey data for February.

The U.S. dollar has been weighed down by a string of soft labour data, even as other indicators have shown resilience, and as President Joe Biden’s pandemic relief efforts take shape, including a proposed $1.9 trillion spending package.

Despite the recent rise in U.S. yields, many analysts think they won’t climb too much higher, limiting the benefit for the dollar.

“Our view remains that the Fed will hold the line and remain very cautious about tapering asset purchases. We think it will keep communicating that tightening is very far off, which should dampen pro-dollar sentiment,” said UBS Global Wealth Management strategist Gaétan Peroux and analyst Tilmann Kolb.

ING analysts said “the rise in rates will be self-regulating, meaning the dollar need not correct too much higher”.

They see the greenback index trading down to the 90.10 to 91.05 range.

U.S. dollar

Aussie and sterling hit multi-year highs on recovery bets 4

The euro rose 0.4% to $1.2134. The single currency showed little reaction to purchasing manager index data, which showed a slowdown in business activity in February. However, factories had their busiest month in three years, buoying sentiment.

The dollar bought 105.39 yen, down 0.3% and a continued retreat from the five-month high of 106.225 reached Wednesday.

(Editing by Hugh Lawson and Pravin Char)

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