Singapore is working hard to position itself as a global hub and test-bed for technology innovation and entrepreneurship.
The Smart Nation vision is driving increased investment in developing and supporting innovative research and start-up companies. With this, Singapore is becoming a great competitor in the global marketplace and a leader in Smart City initiatives.
This past week, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Global Start-Up Lab and Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise (CREATE) launched the Global Connector Program (GCP) in Singapore.
GCP is an important step in grooming and attracting start-ups from other countries to base and go global from Singapore. It is sponsored by the National Research Foundation (NRF) Singapore under its CREATE programme.
GCP provides MIT GSL Alumni with the opportunity to advance their training and technical mentorship through a 9-day workshop, which takes place from 19 until 28 January 2016.
“The Global Connector Program seeks to bolster efforts to shape Singapore into Asia’s start–up nation, reinvent Singapore’s economy, and mold it into Asia’s most attractive nation for entrepreneurial talent,” said Daniel Hastings, CEO of Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research in Technology (SMART),
“Why are we actually doing this? We are interested in doing excellence research… but far more than just papers and journals. We are interested in translational impact. We are interested in the development of people, getting smart people addressed in what we do and the problems we face. This is critical in helping Singapore be better, and make a difference in the world.”
Thirty-two companies sent applications for GCP, from all over the world. In the end, five start-ups were accepted into the program of entrepreneurship training and technology development.
On 25 January, these five start-ups participated in the Pitch day where they present the company and scalability plan. The five start-ups presented their case to a panel of judges whom contributed constructive criticism and suggestions for future development of the companies.
TagMe (Originated in Malaysia)
In Malaysia, there are about 214 thousand weddings each year- amounting to almost 600 weddings a day. The demand for wedding planners and organisers is fierce, while these consultants are not always affordable. This leads couples to take on the bulk of the work themselves, balancing the opinions they receive from their loved ones and their own.
TagMe is a start-up providing a collaborative platform for spouses-to-be and their loved ones in planning their dream wedding. This new platform allows a couple to organise wedding details and arrangements from the feedback they receive from their loved ones.
Feed On (Originated in Malaysia)
“Food has a relatively short shelf life. This actuality results in a lot of extra food that goes uneaten,” said “What happens to this surplus?” In Malaysia, 240 million kilograms of food is wasted a month. This is seen as a real problem and is something which must be addressed.
Feed On aims to tackle this problem and act as a dedicated marketplace for surplus food. FeedOn is receiving and selling food at discounted prices and selling through their online website, mobile app, and mobile kiosks. Their aim is to minimise wastage, while helping grocers recover inventory and cover costs.
4axis solutions (Originated in Sri Lanka)
4axis is targeting people who love to design and do photo editing, in order to enable them to create their own personal products. 4axis is looking to provide an all-inclusive platform to allow a customer to draw, edit, and print their design products in one place.
It works almost like a design marketplace for creative artists and individuals. Their competitors do not provide all of these tools in such an inclusive single-access platform.
The company has 800 thousand active users on their platform. They are in the Top 20 Productivity Apps in the US iPad. As a well-established company, achieving rankings above their competitors, they are looking to expand their product services and increase their customer base.
Extrogene (Originated in Sri Lanka)
Sri Lanka’s mobile penetration rate is sky rocketing. With this, more people will be looking for shopping deals from their mobile phones than their desktop computers. What they are looking for is an accessible and affordable platform to view local deals, similar to that of Groupon.
Exrogene’s OfferHut is a local solution for merchants to create rewarding and personalised offers. This allows customers to find offers, obtain a coupon code via SMS, and claim the offer from the shop.
Since their founding in 2014, they have confirmed several angel investments and 400 merchants in their system. They are looking to develop their sales team, marketing and product team. It was suggested to Extrogene that they align with telecoms to support their SMS transactions. They will also work to maintain high quality customer service for merchants.
Pay Media (Originated in Sri Lanka)
The average time of queuing in banks is 15 to 20 minutes. This results in frustrated customers and lost business opportunities for banks.
“What if the banks operated 24/7?” asked Kanishka Weeramunda, Founder of Pay Media.
Pay Media is looking to host one center for virtual banking services. They will produce an Unmanned Banking machine which would deliver all of the services that could be operated on a machine at any hour. Ninety percent of branch operations can be transferred to a machine.
Pay Media is working with some of the largest banks in Sri Lanka and with the government owned electricity provider. They are looking to expand beyond their current scope and support public sector delivery of government services.
After listening to the pitch presentations, it was discovered that some of these start-ups would consider moving their operations to Singapore. They believe it would help them improve their business and seek new opportunities for growth.
Each of these start-ups touches a unique audience with innovative solutions to some of our everyday problems. They represent how mobility and connectivity will change the world, as we know it.
With Singapore leading a pathway for such programmes, a truly Smart Nation will rise through the collaborative spirit of both local and foreign innovators.