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The gold standard in innovation
SOME of the hottest startups with an eye to disrupting their industries won the biggest prizes in this year's Singapore Infocomm Technology Federation awards.
Spiking, an app which gives real-time data to retail investors on the investment decisions of sophisticated investors, took the gold in the Best Innovative Start-Up - Early Stage category.
DynaOptics won the gold for the Best Innovative Start-up - Growth Stage category for its Wala Cam, a wide-angle, low-aberration camera.
But more than just disrupting their industries locally, both companies have the potential to grow big on the international stage, a common theme for this year's winners, said the head judge for the Growth Stage category, Ng Chee Soon.
Spiking has scaled up to cover more than 10 stock exchanges in over eight countries, including Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia, while DynaOptics is looking to place its free-form lenses in all cameras.
"The winners displayed a very international outlook, and in some cases, the team compositions were very diverse in ethnic background and nationality," said Mr Ng, who is also president and managing director of Sennheiser Electronic Asia.
The SiTF Awards began in 2009 to honour the most innovative made-in-Singapore companies in the infocomm and technology sector. The SiTF is an industry association comprising corporate members ranging from local startups to established multinational corporations. The body advocates for the information, communications and media industries and helps to accelerate the adoption of ICM technology.
This year, the awards focused on the vibrant startup scene in Singapore as well as on schools, in order to nurture the next generation of high-flying technopreneurs.
"Startups in the industry have the potential to change Singapore's ICM landscape and create new industries. They can contribute to the economic dynamism of the country by spurring innovation and competition," said Shirley Wong, chairman of the SiTF Awards 2016 organising committee. "Our students are budding innovators and future drivers of change. Together they both represent the lifeblood and next generation of entrepreneurs which is critical for growth."
The awards attracted some 200 high-quality nominations and the judges had a hard time deciding on the eventual winners, said Chang Yew Kong, head judge of the Early Stage category.
A total of nine startup organisations representing industries ranging from trading and education technology (EduTech) to data management and online ordering systems received awards that acknowledged their outstanding contributions. Ten schools from the primary to the tertiary level were also recognised for their entries.
SiTF chairman Saw Ken Wye said that the awards are meant to encourage entrepreneurs and startups to grow and thrive.
"Many new ideas come out of small companies and entrepreneurs and it is crucial that we develop an ecosystem that can allow startups to grow and thrive. This year's awards showcase innovation ranging from machine learning, data analytics to e-marketplaces," said Mr Saw.
"At SiTF, we play a fundamental role in anticipating ICM trends and developing initiatives that strengthen the community. The awards give the winners the recognition and encouragement to further excel. They have an opportunity to not just be profiled, but also to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs."
Competition was especially stiff in the school competitions with all three categories - tertiary, secondary and primary - seeing a tie for gold.
In the tertiary category, the gold award was won by both Nanyang Polytechnic and Singapore Polytechnic.
Nanyang Polytechnic student Koh Vinleon won for his Emotional Analysis Buddy app which can track a person's emotional state through his or her social media posts, while Singapore Polytechnic students created an artificial intelligence service called Nyx that helps businesses organise events.
Fuhua Primary School and Rosyth School were tied in the primary school category for gold. Fuhua's students won for the unusual experiment at turning a piano painting on the floor into an actual working one, while Rosyth students created video games to raise awareness of cyber-wellness in their school.
"The final result of ties attests to the good quality of finalists and their submissions. The winners' products also have good potential to serve not just Singapore but regional markets," said Mr Chang.
Raffles Institution won double gold for two projects in the secondary school category, one for a dyslexia mobile app called Lexi and the other for a 3D printable prosthetic hand.
The awards, given out at the Mediacorp Theatre on Oct 5, were announced during the ICM Industry Reception Night. The event was attended by more than 450 guests comprising award participants, industry leaders and educators.
"The startup ecosystem in Singapore has picked up momentum and has grown quite significantly in the last few years. Judging from the quality and quantity of the participants, there is no dearth of entrepreneurs in Singapore," said Mr Ng.
Several of the winners said that the awards have inspired them to continue developing new solutions using technology.
Clemen Chiang, founder of Aly, the company which developed Spiking, said the award was a recognition of the app from the leading lights in the industry. "This award certainly affirms Spiking's conviction that verified social trading is the next wave for fintech companies focusing on the capital markets," he said.