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Enterprise Singapore, energy firms launch innovation challenge for SMEs, startups

ENTERPRISE Singapore (ESG) on Thursday launched its inaugural Energy Open Innovation Challenge (EOIC) 2020, in partnership with energy companies Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and Shell, to seek tie-ups with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and startups.

The EOIC is calling for innovative solutions from SMEs and startups that address 19 challenge statements spanning asset management, robotics, sustainability and workflow.

Shortlisted SMEs and startups will have the opportunity to work directly with the four companies to develop, refine and test their solutions both in Singapore and globally, ESG said.

ESG will also provide eligible SMEs and startups with up to S$1 million in grant support to ramp up the development of their solution, so they can build their track record, scale the business and create good jobs, it added.

The winning startup for each category of the 19 challenge statements will win S$25,000 from ESG. The call for EOIC entries closes on Nov 6.

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ESG on Thursday said international energy companies have in recent years been looking to increase energy efficiency and incorporate more sustainable energy sources, such as liquefied natural gas and hydrogen fuel, amid a heightened need to reduce carbon emissions and drive sustainability.

The Covid-19 pandemic has further hit the global energy sector, with lockdown measures and severe reduction in air travel resulting in reduced demand for energy; and mandatory workplace safety measures to minimise the spread of the virus have affected how energy companies manage their operations and manpower deployment.

This has accelerated the need for these companies to adopt new technologies to improve their workflow and manage assets more cost effectively, which in turn will reduce manual work and create higher-value jobs, ESG said.

ESG deputy chief executive Ted Tan said the EOIC provides a platform to facilitate opportunities for SMEs and startups to test-drive their solutions and build a track record with established energy companies. On their part, the companies can adapt the solutions according to their needs to tackle challenges and explore new growth opportunities.

"I hope this will spur more partnerships among large and small companies," he added.

Law Tat Win, country chairman of Chevron Singapore, said the EOIC "is a great platform for Chevron to collaborate with SMEs and startups to co-develop innovative solutions for our business".

ExxonMobil Singapore refinery process manager Neo Ee Ee said the company's collaborations in Singapore had led to several firsts across its global manufacturing circuit, and it was "glad to partner with Enterprise Singapore in this effort to uncover even more digital solutions for our sector through this EOIC".

Shell Singapore energy transition manager Chong Leigh Hsiang said the expectations of society and customers for cleaner-energy solutions were increasing, and that the EOIC complements the company's efforts to co-create innovative solutions with startups and SMEs to grow the clean-energy ecosystem.

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