Inc ASEAN published an article based on an email interview with Steve, on the three key factors that need to be in place for emerging ASEAN economies to benefit from deep technology. As the ideal hub for deep tech startups, Singapore acts as the jump-off point for deployment for startups to emerging markets. For instance, while Adatos, one of SGInnovate’s portfolio company, is based in Singapore, it works with some of the biggest food producers in Southeast Asia to address a genuine problem in the world – food security. SGInnovate aims to develop deep tech startups into high potential companies with global impact, to build and scale their products from Singapore for Southeast Asia and the world. Steve shares the three key factors that emerging ASEAN economies need in order to benefit from deep tech:
Campus Magazine published an article on the opportunities for deep tech with SGInnovate. As emphasised by Singapore’s Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat at the SGInnovate second year anniversary, one of the challenges that the local deep tech startup ecosystem faces is finding suitable talent. To that end, SGInnovate launched its first apprenticeship programme known as the Summation Programme in 2018, to connect promising deep tech startups with bright students from both tech and non-tech backgrounds that are currently studying in local and overseas universities. Working for the AI-driven firm Taiger, SUTD apprentice Gabriel Wong was tasked with creating a tool that converts images into text and an engine that could extract specific text from complicated documents. NUS apprentice Jinna Qian, who interned at V-Key, asserts that it was important to stop discouraging women from joining the tech sector. She added that based on her experience, deep tech startups are gender-neutral in terms of work, and both men and women are evaluated equally for the work they have done.
TechTrade Asia published an article on the progress of blockchain in 2018, and how the technology will play out in the coming year. According to Steve, blockchain will play a bigger role beyond the financial industry. For instance, it can be used to address food safety by preserving the integrity of food supply, create a greener ecosystem through energy or electricity-sharing on the Blockchain, increased transparency in logistical supply chains, and stamping out counterfeit drugs in the healthcare system. He added that blockchain can help solve poverty issues on a large scale and create an economic impact on the underserved community in Southeast Asia. The lack of access and difficulties for many of the unbanked and underbanked population is creating barriers for these communities to come out of poverty, and blockchain helps to remove the need for a ‘middle man’ that requires a fee for a bank account opening or usage, reducing the cost of transactions. Finally, Steve gave the example of how AID:Tech, one of SGInnovate’s portfolio companies, is enabling aid, welfare, remittances, donations and healthcare to be digitised and delivered through blockchain technology in a transparent manner.
Jumpstart Magazine published an article on the deep tech trends to look out for in 2019, from an investment perspective. According to Hsien-Hui, while deep tech has become a hot topic in recent years, investors should remain careful about separating the wheat from the chaff.
- AI as a specialised problem-solver: 2019 will be the year for AI companies that are narrowly focused on specific processes to solve industry pain points to win big in the market, such as AIDA and Taiger. AI startup that identifies their target audience as everyone usually means that their revenue will likely be highly skewed on the service side, making them unable to scale and an unattractive investment to VCs.
CNBC Make It published an article on the widening gender pay gap that is arising from the development in AI and automation. According to a report from the World Economic Forum, the growth of jobs in emerging industries, such as IT and engineering, is set to disproportionately hurt women and by consequence, progress made in reducing pay inequality. Many of the roles typically filled by women, such as administrative and customer service roles, are being automated by new technologies. In addition, the types of roles that are growing, like machine learning and big data roles in the IT sector, happen to be the ones where the talent base of women is considerably smaller than that to men. “There is no doubt that more can be done to encourage and inspire women to take interest in STEM-related subjects,” Steve told CNBC Make It. To that end, SGInnovate runs a series of internships and placements such as the Summation Programme, where the hands-on experience helps to get more women into the field and break down outdated stereotypes. According to Steve, many of the brightest founders that SGInnovate has backed are women, and these women are working on highly technical areas such as AI and Medtech. He is confident that more women will step up to build great innovations that will help shape the world that we live in.
CNBC Asia conducted an interview with Steve on its morning programme, Squawk Box Asia, on the key technology trends for 2019. Apart from cryptocurrency, Steve highlighted that there are more important use cases for blockchain such as for the management of digital assets or creation of digital identities. For MedTech, innovations in this field remain a tough one to crack due to the complex regulatory environments in different countries, a longer time for investments to be realised, and a challenging adoption curve.