SPRING Singapore, the country’s agency responsible for helping Singapore enterprises, also has a charter that looks at helping bring disruptive technologies into the market through its Technology Enterprise Commercialization Scheme (TECS). Today the agency announced that it has awarded fifteen Singapore-based startups – covering a wide spectrum of technology areas including medical devices, electronics, engineering, water and environment, as well as infocomm – with grants totaling some S$6 million worth of grants.
Among the projects supported are three which could make a notable impact on the healthcare sector if and when they get commercialized. One of them, Neurostyle, is developing a new way to teach the brain to ‘rewire’ itself – through virtual reality games – that can help stroke patients recover the movement in their affected limbs. Another start-up, Hexalotus Technology, is coming up with a 3D model that will improve the planning and treatment of liver cancer, and provides a web-based platform has the added advantage of facilitating consultation and assistance among doctors. T.Ware is developing a therapy system to calm autism patients who can go into uncontrollable fits. Its T.Jacket simulates deep pressure massage, and a therapist can customize the rhythm and pressure of the ‘hug’ of the jacket according to the patient’s needs.
“The grant supports our R&D process to build and test the prototype with actual patients, in particular children with autism,” says James Teh, founder and executive director of T.Ware.
Start-ups developing technologies for the water and environmental sectors also received part of that TECS grant. For example, Envichem has found an environmentally-friendly way to recover valuable metals such as nickel and tin from waste metal parts. The recovery is today done using large amounts of hazardous chemicals, which incur high chemical and waste treatment costs. Envichem’s approach allows the ‘bath’ which the metal parts are soaked in to continuously regenerate. This reduces the amount of chemicals needed while not compromising on the efficacy of the process.
Water Optics Technology, on the other hand, is developing a ‘parasitometer’ that offers real-time monitoring of water quality, which can potentially set a new benchmark by reducing the time needed to detect germs and bacteria from several days to just 24 hours. “With the grant, we are able to further the research needed towards being a leader in water quality monitoring to improve the lives of people around the world,” says Dr Liu Ai Qun, founder of Water Optics Technology.
Aside from healthcare and environmental sectors, there’s also Zimplistic, which is developing the world’s first fully-automatic flatbread maker. The Rotimatic (pictured above), which can make a range of soft hot flatbread or roti such as chapati, could well find its way into the homes of millions who eat flatbread as a staple and which is now by hand – a labour-intensive process which also requires skill. Zimplistic CEO Rishi Kumar says the grant will go towards the development of a sensing system that can adapt to various flour types, which have different water absorption characteristics and capacities. “Fine-tuning this technology requires high risks and R&D costs, but the grant has helped us to manage these and improve our chances of success,” he adds.
To date, SPRING Singapore has supported more than 150 projects totalling more than $50 million since TECS was launched. Startups which are interested to apply for TECS can submit their applications here. Proof-of-Concept (POC) proposals are accepted throughout the year while invitations for Proof-of-Value (POV) proposals are made on a quarterly basis. The current quarterly grant call for TECS POV will close on 30 June 2013.