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SGInnovate launched to incubate science and deep-tech startups

SINGAPORE — Mr Rohit Jha, an electrical engineer who graduated from Nanyang Technological University, is examining the possibility of space and satellite communication through lasers. Mr Samuel Chin, a graduate from the Singapore University of Technology and Design, is exploring video data compression using deep learning. Ms Divya Rao, after getting her PhD from the National University of Singapore, is testing new ideas in personalization and video advertising through data.

The official launch of SGInnovate, unveiled today by (from left) Dr Beh Swan Gin, Chairman, Economic Development Board; Ms Yong Ying-I, Permanent Secretary (National Research and Development) and Permanent Secretary (Public Service Division),  Deputy Prime Minister & Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies Tharman Shanmugaratnam; Mr Steve Leonard, Founding CEO, SGInnovate; and Mr Gabriel Lim,  Chief Executive (Info-comm Media Development Authority of Singapore). HANDOUT PHOTO BY SGInnovate

The official launch of SGInnovate, unveiled today by (from left) Dr Beh Swan Gin, Chairman, Economic Development Board; Ms Yong Ying-I, Permanent Secretary (National Research and Development) and Permanent Secretary (Public Service Division), Deputy Prime Minister & Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies Tharman Shanmugaratnam; Mr Steve Leonard, Founding CEO, SGInnovate; and Mr Gabriel Lim, Chief Executive (Info-comm Media Development Authority of Singapore). HANDOUT PHOTO BY SGInnovate

SINGAPORE  — Mr Rohit Jha, an electrical engineer who graduated from Nanyang Technological University, is examining the possibility of space and satellite communication through lasers. Mr Samuel Chin, a graduate from the Singapore University of Technology and Design, is exploring video data compression using deep learning. Ms Divya Rao, after getting her PhD from the National University of Singapore, is testing new ideas in personalisation and video advertising through data.

These bright young minds have come under one roof to be nurtured by SGInnovate – Singapore’s latest initiative to incubate science and deep-technology start-ups by connecting these budding entrepreneurs with mentors, providing them with access to research institutes, introducing them to funding opportunities and eventually exposing them to new markets.

“The best thing about it is that I can focus on my work without having to bother about who to go to help for guidance or having to think about next stage of funding or even intellectual property-related issues. SGInnovate not only gives us the space but the entire ecosystem for us to grow and turn our projects into reality,” said Ms Rao.

SGInnovate, announced earlier as part of Budget 2016 under a S$4.5 billion plan to transform industries by supporting innovation and robotics, was officially launched on Tuesday (Nov 22) by Deputy Prime Minister & Coordinating Minister for Economic & Social Policies Tharman Shanmugaratnam. SGInnovate will come under the purview of the National Research Foundation, focusing on areas including digital health, financial services, smart energy, digital manufacturing and robotics among others.

SGInnovate, Mr Tharman said, is a significant step by the Republic towards strengthening networks between researchers, start-ups and venture capitalists that will foster deep tech-focused communities and encourage interaction via co-working spaces.

“It is a curator, selecting and bringing together deep tech-focused players in the same space with the aim of catalysing productive interaction. It will be a focal point for interaction between deep-tech scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs in various domains, and financiers… SGInnovate will strengthen the linkages across talented individuals within the ecosystem and develop a local cadre of mentors to promising start-ups,” he said.

“Our research efforts have gained international recognition. However, more of our research has to translate to commercial output. Patent output in Singapore is still relatively low, and there is still much opportunity to develop commercial outcomes downstream,” he added.

The six-storey campus at Carpenter Street is presently home to engineers and research scientists from entities and firms such as SMART, McLaren Applied Technologies, NVIDIA, and Ethereum. The facility also offers the expertise and support from Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) to the innovators.

“We very much see the benefits as two-way. While we are excited about the potential for SGInnovate to connect us to new partnerships, areas of collaboration in emerging technologies and new ways of thinking, we also want to inspire SGInnovate’s start-ups and other organisations by showing how our innovative approach to data-driven design and decision making can improve lives,” said Mr Michael Shearer, External Relations Director - Asia Pacific at McLaren Technology Group.

Mr Justin Lie, CEO of local fraud protection solutions firm CashShield, said SGInnovate makes resources more readily available to help local tech companies succeed in the global arena.

“SGInnovate is a step in the right direction nurturing an eco-system where startups can thrive by focusing on innovation and doing what they are good at, and enlisting support from others where they lack expertise,” he said.

SGInnovate’s founding CEO Steve Leonard said: “Singapore has the ability to imagine, design and build technology-based products that are relevant in markets around the world. SGInnovate is about making that happen as part of Singapore’s economic future.”

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