TWO startups from Singapore-based accelerator ImpacTech are preparing to go head to head for a US$1 million cash prize at Chivas Venture 2020, a global startup competition that is backed by the blended scotch whisky maker.
Chivas Venture has brought 26 startups from different countries around the world to compete in the US for its no-strings-attached funding this year. The prize money will be awarded to the startup which best “blends tech innovation with a social purpose to have a positive impact on the world”.
Japan-based MyMizu and Thailand-based Young Happy are among the 26 chosen, from thousands of applicants, said ImpacTech on Thursday.
MyMizu is Japan's first free water refill platform that guides people to over 8,000 public water fountains, eco-friendly cafes, and places that offer free water refills around the country. It was part of a corporate accelerator for sport tech and well-being startups by the Nippon Foundation in Tokyo.
In Japan, where there are over three million vending machines, it is easy to purchase bottled drinks — but not very easy to find places to refill the empty bottles or avoid their use altogether.
Despite its reputation for recycling and cleanliness, the country had produced the second-highest amount of plastic packaging per capita after the United States, according to a 2018 United Nations sustainability report.
Young Happy is an app which helps seniors in Thailand to live an active and fulfilling lifestyle, giving them access to certified services, events and products. Young Happy joined the accelerator’s social-tech startup programme in Thailand, which focuses on startups that use technology to tackle large-scale social and environmental challenges.
The two startups were part of early-stage accelerator program ImpacTech, which was first founded in Singapore in 2015.
The accelerator, which focuses on corporate accelerator programmes and open innovation challenges, then expanded to Japan and Thailand in 2018. This, said chief executive and founder Yoav Elgrichi, was to increase the Singapore-based accelerator’s market reach overseas, and help startups expand out of their home country.
“ImpacTech's latest achievements position Singapore not only as an innovative country, but as one who supports other innovation ecosystems in the region,” said Mr Elgrichi, adding that cross-cultural initiatives are key ingredients in cultivating innovation.
“Our accelerator combines the direct and practical approach from Israelis, with the meticulousness from Singaporeans. This is also complemented by a supportive government startup ecosystem,” said Mr Elgrichi, an Israeli who has lived in Singapore for over 11 years.
There were no Singaporean startups among the finalists.