Amid a greater push towards green mobility, leaders in the field – from service providers to academia to investors – came together at the panel discussion held earlier in November 2023 as part of the Green Mobility Series presented by EVCo and SGInnovate. The series aims to highlight the critical role that deep tech startups play in driving green technology, and the challenges and opportunities such startups in this space face.
Singapore’s green mobility plans are ambitious. With aspirations for all vehicles to run on cleaner energy by 2040, the country cannot afford to take its foot off the gas, experts said at the event.
“Green mobility is never just about replacing vehicles”, Mr Fuji Foo, Chief Executive Officer of EVCo, Singapore’s leading electric-mobility-as-a-Service (eMaaS) provider, pointed out.
Instead, a system overhaul is needed.
This includes the need for closer collaboration between companies and deep tech startups, whether tapping into artificial intelligence (AI) or researching new battery technology, to drive the industry’s green revolution.
(L to R) Panellists Dr Tobias Massier, Principal Scientist at TUMCREATE; Mr Fuji Foo, Chief Executive Officer at EVCo, Ms Mari Matsushita, Chief Product Officer at noco-noco; Mr Marc Stuart, Founding Partner and CEO at Allotrope Partners.
On the green track
Digitalisation will play a significant role in making the transition more efficient. Adopting electric vehicles (EVs) involves high costs, and digital transformation – by optimising manpower, assets and operations – would “create a compelling reason for them (businesses) to move towards green mobility”, said Mr Foo.
For instance, some small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are interested in integrating EVs into their operations but lack the relevant expertise. They will benefit from working with deep-tech companies as utilising AI and deep-learning solutions can enhance their workforce deployment so “less can do more”.
One example of deep-learning solutions already being utilised is the Energy Market Authority’s (EMA) Digital Network Twin. A simulation software developed in collaboration with TUMCREATE, it’s used to measure the impact of additional EVs on Singapore’s grid infrastructure.
Such digital twins allow developers to have “the entire system on our computer” and enable experimentation, said Dr Tobias Massier, Principal Scientist at TUMCREATE. Such systems help to save costs by highlighting issues before implementation into the real world.
Dr Massier shows the audience the problem statement for the Singapore Integrated Transport Energy Model (SITEM) project his team has been working on to support Singapore's plan to transition to EVs nationwide.
Other players are coming up with innovations too. For instance, decarbonisation solutions company noco-noco is developing new battery technology to tackle issues plaguing current options. These include short lifespans and the inability to withstand high temperatures, leading to fire risks.
Called X-SEPA, noco-noco’s proprietary technology features an electrolyte that is resistant to high temperatures and can extend the lifespan of a conventional lithium-ion battery by fivefold. This will cut the frequency of battery changes, thus reducing the costs of EVs and their negative effects on the environment.
“Electrification is critical,” said Ms Mari Matsushita, noco-noco’s Chief Product Officer. “And as the heart of electrification, batteries need to keep improving, in terms of life cycles and heat resistance.”
To go far, go together
There are various ways for deep tech startups to hop on the green track. For instance, Mr Foo suggested partnering with eMaaS providers like EVCo, to leverage their data to train their algorithms to enhance solutions.
“This is where companies can come together and put together unique value propositions that can actually solve problems,” said Mr Foo.