Weekly Tech Round-Up | #19

Here is all the tech news from the past week, sign up for our newsletter to receive this in your inbox every week. We also do a South West tech news update.

Tesla taps tiny startup’s tech to build cheaper, cleaner batteries

When Elon Musk stood onstage at Tesla’s Battery Day in September and promised to cut lithium-ion battery prices in half, he claimed some of the saving would come from reinventing the dirty and complex process of making their nickel metal cathodes. The simplest route appears to involve a small Canadian battery startup — or at least its patent applications. Two weeks before Battery Day, Tesla purchased a number of patent applications from Springpower International, a small company based just outside Toronto, for a grand total of $3, according to public records.

One of those applications details an innovative process similar to one that Drew Baglino, Tesla’s senior vice-president of engineering, described onstage at Tesla’s factory in Fremont, California, on Battery Day. Buying the patent application means that when the patent itself was finally granted in January, it was issued to Tesla, with no mention of Springpower.

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‘Self-driving’ cars to be allowed on UK roads this year

“Self-driving” vehicles could be allowed on UK roads by the end of this year, the government has said. The Department for Transport said automated lane-keeping systems (ALKS) would be the first type of hands-free driving legalised. The technology controls the position and speed of a car in a single lane and it will be limited to 37mph (60km/h) But insurers have warned the government’s definition of ALKS as “self-driving” is misleading.

Previously, the government had said these new laws would be in place by spring this year and told the BBC there was no delay in its suggested timeframes. Following a consultation last year, the government has now said that vehicles with ALKS technology can be legally defined as self-driving, “as long as they receive GB type approval and that there is no evidence to challenge the vehicle’s ability to self-drive.”

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AstraZeneca has drawn criticism for saying it can’t share its vaccine tech with the WHO because it has no engineers available ‘to brief people and train them’

Health industry observers and social justice groups have criticized recent comments by AstraZeneca’s CEO about sharing its vaccine technology. AstraZeneca said it could not share such technology with the World Health Organization (WHO) because it had no engineers available to assist in the technology transfer. The comments were made by chief executive Pascal Soriot during a shareholder Q&A on Friday.

The People’s Vaccine Alliance, a global coalition of civil society organizations, pressed AstraZeneca on providing access to its technology.

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Indian tech giant to create 1,000 UK jobs at new development centre

An Indian tech company is to create 1,000 UK jobs and a £25 million nearshore development centre outside London. Mphasis is expanding its UK footprint and aims to provide upskilling and training in digital transformation focused on the banking and insurance industries. The cloud and cognitive services specialist says it has the capability to scale and cater to customers even beyond the UK, thus potentially creating a much larger opportunity in the job market. 

The firm applies next-generation technology to help enterprises transform businesses globally. It says by ‘shrinking the core’ – through the application of digital technologies across legacy environments within an enterprise – it can enable businesses to stay ahead in a changing world.  

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