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EMERGING ENTERPRISE 2019

Young guns fire up Singapore industries

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Winners of the Emerging Enterprise Award: From left, co-founder and CEO of Spark System Wong Joo Seng, Jeremy Heng and Ethan Chu, two of the three co-founders of Xjera Labs, and Emage Vision's chairman Charles Cher at the Raffles Hotel on Thursday.

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Guest-of-honour Chee Hong Tat, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and for Education, interacts with the top 15 finalists before the gala dinner

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A display showcasing the Emerging Enterprise Award 2019 finalists, as featured in The Business Times

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Chee Hong Tat, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and for Education, with the top 15 Emerging Enterprise Award finalists

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Guest-of-honour Chee Hong Tat, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and for Education, delivering his speech

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A toast to 12 years of the Emerging Enterprise Award, which celebrates business innovation, resilience and excellence in SMEs

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Alvin Ea (left), co-founder and chief executive officer, and Sebastian Shen (right), co-founder and chief product officer of Haulio, enter the ballroom

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Linus Goh, OCBC's head of global commercial banking, and Chee Hong Tat, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and for Education having a chat

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Leow Ban Tat, chief executive officer of Aquaculture Centre of Excellence receiving his trophy for the Most Promising Startup award

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Ng Pei Kang, founder of TRIA, receiving the Best Innovation Award trophy

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Vishnampet Sethuraman Hariharan, co-founder of Third Wave Power, receiving the special Sustainability Award trophy

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Charles Cher, chairman of Emage Vision, celebrating his Emerging Enterprise Award win

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Wong Joo Seng, co-founder and CEO of Sparks Systems, receiving his Emerging Enterprise Award trophy

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Ethan Chu, founder of Xjera Labs, receiving the Emerging Enterprise Award trophy. The firm also received the Best Innovation Award

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The top 15 finalists of the Emerging Enterprise Award 2019

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Linus Goh, OCBC's head of global commercial banking, and Wong Wei Kong, editor of The Business Times, presenting a token of appreciation to Chee Hong Tat

Singapore

THEY may be young companies, but they are pushing the envelope in their respective industries - and making money from it too.

Emage Vision (whose machines do the work of human inspectors), Spark Systems (a low-latency forex trading platform) and Xjera (a video-analytics start-up) all won the Emerging Enterprise Award on Thursday.

They each received prizes worth about S$315,000; these comprised consultancy services, business debit card credits, travel packages and a S$200,000 interest-free, business overdraft facility from OCBC Bank.

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The awards, jointly organised by The Business Times and OCBC and now in their 12th year, celebrate promising young businesses with annual sales turnover of up to S$20 million and which are outstanding in their respective fields.

The guest of honour at the gala dinner and award ceremony at the Raffles Hotel was Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and for Education Chee Hong Tat.

In his speech, he lauded the finalists, particularly food tech start-up Alchemy Foodtech and portable renewable power provider Third Wave Power, for their innovative offerings.

He also encouraged businesses to work together to pool their strengths and to lower individual risk. In a global market marked by competition from larger and better-equipped companies from elsewhere, Singapore businesses have to think about how to enlarge the pie, he said.

On its part, the government will continue to foster a pro-business environment where innovation can flourish and entrepreneurs can focus on growing their business, he added.

TRIA, a maker of eco-friendly foodware, and Xjera Labs picked up the Best Innovation Award, which recognises firms with a strong culture of innovation.

Each received prizes worth about S$110,000, comprising information and communication technology business solutions, legal and advisory services and a S$50,000 interest-free business overdraft facility from OCBC.

Aquaculture Centre of Excellence, an aquaculture company that combines precision aquaculture engineering with state-of-the-art post-harvest processing, won the Most Promising Startup Award, which recognises emerging enterprises with a strong startup spirit, particularly those with a unique, commercially viable idea.

A field of more than 500 applicants was whittled down to 15 finalists, shortlisted for the sustainability of their business models and growth plans, as well as the viability of their business strategies.

Wong Wei Kong, editor of The Business Times, said he hopes that with these awards, emerging enterprises can feel "more empowered to break boundaries and achieve greater growth".

"The awards also provide these young businesses with resources to help them mature and thrive in this challenging economic environment," he said.

Christie Chu, head of emerging business and commercial banking cash, global commercial banking at OCBC, said: "This year's Emerging Enterprise Award winners continue a trend that we've been seeing for some time now: technology is at the heart of what they do."

Beyond leveraging technology, sustainability is also being increasingly valued, she said. "Many of this year's finalists believe, and have shown that they can do well by doing good."

In a first, the judges gave Third Wave Power a special Sustainability Award this year, for its efforts on the sustainability front.

The awards are supported by Acorn Marketing & Research Consultants, Enterprise Singapore, MasterCard, Rajah & Tann Legal Basix, RSM Singapore, Singtel and Wavemaker Singapore.