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15 technology start-ups get $6 million in SPRING grants

  • Date
    11 Apr 2013
  • In This Story
  • Reference Number NR/05/13

1. Fifteen start-ups have been awarded Proof-of-Concept (POC) and Proof-of-Value (POV) grants totalling $6 million under SPRING Singapore’s Technology Enterprise Commercialisation Scheme (TECS), which aims to bring potentially disruptive technologies closer to the market.

2. The 15 projects cover a wide spectrum of technology areas including medical devices, electronics, engineering, water and environment, as well as infocomm.

3. Among the projects supported are three which could make a notable impact on the healthcare sector when commercialised. One of them, Neurostyle, is developing a new way to teach the brain to ‘rewire’ itself – through virtual reality games – that can help stroke patients recover the movement in their affected limbs. Another start-up, Hexalotus Technology, is coming up with a 3D model that will improve the planning and treatment of liver cancer. Its web-based platform has the added advantage of facilitating consultation and assistance among doctors. T.Ware is developing a therapy system to calm autism patients who can go into uncontrollable fits. Using its T.Jacket which simulates deep pressure massage, a therapist can customise the rhythm and pressure of the ‘hug’ of the jacket according to the patient’s needs. A single therapist can thus attend to many patients at the same time.

4. Mr James Teh, Founder and Executive Director of T.Ware, said, “While we are still in the early stages of starting up, we believe our idea is very promising and we have a strong team to see the project through. The grant supports our R&D process to build and test the prototype with actual patients, in particular children with autism. When commercialised, the T.Jacket will be the first in the world to give autism patients comforting ‘hugs’ at the touch of a smart phone. It is convenient for both the wearer and the care giver to use and contributes to the patient’s overall well-being. ”

5. The TECS grant was also awarded to start-ups which are developing technologies for the water and environmental sectors. For instance, Envichem has found an environmentally-friendly way to recover valuable metals such as nickel and tin from waste metal parts. The recovery is now done using large amounts of hazardous chemicals, which incur high chemical and waste treatment costs. The new technology allows the ‘bath’ which the metal parts are soaked in to continuously regenerate. This reduces the amount of chemicals needed while not compromising on the efficacy of the process.

6. Worldwide demand for clean and safe water is driving the development of monitoring systems for water quality. This increasingly lucrative market is what Water Optics Technology hopes to have a share in. Its ‘parasitometer’, which offers real-time monitoring of water quality, can potentially set a new benchmark by reducing the time needed to detect germs and bacteria from several days to just 24 hours. Dr Liu Ai Qun, founder of Water Optics Technology, said, “We have spent several years developing the technology for our water quality monitoring system. With the grant, we are able to further the research needed towards being a leader in water quality monitoring to improve the lives of people around the world. We are much encouraged by the interest of potential customers like PUB, who has helped validate our technology and build up our credibility. Once our technology is commercialised, we will be targeting the global water monitoring market, which is estimated to be worth more than $7 billion and growing at 8 per cent a year.”

7. Members of SPRING’s Evaluation Panel were impressed with the quality of the projects. Dr Sze Tiam Lin, Director at the Intellectual Property Intermediary (IPI) and an evaluation panel member, said, “Some of these projects promise to have a far-reaching impact. For example, Water Optics Technology’s water quality monitoring system will provide a much-needed solution to address the increasing demand for real-time rapid detection of waterborne pathogens. It has the potential to set the gold standard for water quality monitoring. With sizeable demand, especially in the developing countries, the start-up will do well to seize the opportunities there.”

8. Another start-up that promises to have a huge impact is Zimplistic, which is developing the world’s first fully-automatic flatbread maker. The Rotimatic, which can make a range of soft hot flatbread or roti such as chapati, could well find its way into the homes of the millions who eat flatbread as a staple and now make them by hand – a labour-intensive process which also requires skills. Zimplistic’s CEO, Mr Rishi Kumar, is excited about bringing the Rotimatic to these markets. He said, “Key to the project is the development of a sensing system that can adapt to various flour types, which have different water absorption characteristics and capacities. Fine-tuning this technology requires high risks and R&D costs, but the grant has helped us to manage these and improve our chances of success.”

9. Another evaluation panel member, Dr Tan Guan Hong, who is a Programme Director at A*Star’s Institute for Infocomm Research, said, “We are impressed with Zimplistic’s prototype of the Rotimatic. It demonstrates high commercial value and has the potential to not just meet, but even create a market need. It is likely to appeal to expats of South Asian origins, who will find it a convenient and hassle-free way to make rotis which taste as good as those made by hand.”

10. Ms Chew Mok Lee, Assistant Chief Executive of SPRING, said, “The TECS provides funding during the critical, pre-market stages to bridge the gap between an innovative technology idea and the market. Technology start-ups face particular difficulties in commercialising their products or services due to the risks involved in the R&D of new and potentially market-changing technologies. Hence, SPRING launched the TECS in 2008 to help these start-ups undertake further development to bring their ideas closer to the market.”

11. SPRING has supported more than 150 projects totalling more than $50 million since TECS was launched. Recent start-ups which were supported include Sofshell, Clearbridge Biomedics, and Endomaster, which have gone on to win international awards and ventured into overseas markets with their market-changing technologies.

12. Start-ups which are interested to apply for SPRING’s TECS can submit their applications at www.spring.gov.sg/tecs. POC proposals are accepted throughout the year while invitations for POV proposals are made on a quarterly basis. The current quarterly grant call for TECS POV will close on 30 June 2013. Please see Annex 1 for more information on the TECS.


ANNEX 1 - FACT SHEET ON THE TECHNOLOGY ENTERPRISE COMMERCIALISATION SCHEME (TECS)

Overview

The Technology Enterprise Commercialisation Scheme (TECS) aims to develop innovative and competitive enterprises by catalysing the formation and growth of start-ups with strong technology intellectual property (IP) and a scalable business model.

Through the TECS, SPRING provides early-stage funding for start-ups to undertake R&D efforts towards the commercialisation of innovative and potentially market-changing technology IP.

Qualifying Projects

Two types of projects are supported under TECS – Proof-of-Concept (POC) and Proof-of-Value (POV).

 Type of Project

 Project Details

 Support

Proof-of-Concept (POC) For applicants who wish to develop proprietary ideas in a commercial context. Applicants should explain clearly the innovative science or technology concept in their proposal.

Up to 100% of qualifying costs for each project will be supported, up to a maximum of S$250,000.

Proof-of-Value (POV) Applicants should already have a technically / scientifically viable concept (proof-of-concept available), and wish to carry out further development, or develop a working prototype to validate the commercial merit of an established concept.

Applicants also need to demonstrate proof-of-interest from at least one potential customer or third party investor, and the necessary business competencies to execute the commercialisation activities.

Up to 85% of qualifying costs for each project will be supported, up to a maximum of S$500,000.

Qualifying Criteria

Companies must meet the following criteria :
  • Registered for less than five years at time of award
  • At least 30% local shareholding
  • Company’s group annual sales turnover is not more than $100 million or group employment size is not more than 200 workers
  • Incorporated and physically present in Singapore
  • At least one in-house research scientist or engineer
The evaluation criteria include, but not limited to :
  • Strength of the Scientific / Technical Idea and Approach
  • Ability to Successfully Carry out the Project
  • Commercialisation Potential
  • Economic Benefits to Singapore

Qualifying Costs

Basic Manpower Costs
  • Salaries plus employer’s CPF contribution, excluding bonuses
  • Salaries for personnel with substantial stakes in the company are NOT supported under the POC grant
Professional Services
  • Includes consultancy, sub-contracting or prototyping costs by third-party local companies
Equipment / Software
  • Includes purchase price, and costs related to commissioning and operation (e.g. delivery, installation, handling etc)
  • Only project-related technical software is supported
IP Rights
  • Includes licensing and technology acquisition costs from non-related parties
Materials & Consumables
  • General materials and consumables required for the R&D project
 

Evaluation Process

There are three evaluation stages :

Stage I – Eligibility Screening

Applicant’s eligibility is assessed and the proposal is reviewed to see if they meet the TECS qualifying guidelines.

Stage II – Technical and Commercial Evaluation

Proposals are assessed for innovativeness, technical feasibility and commercialisation potential.

Stage III – Final Panel Evaluation (only for POV)

Shortlisted POV applicants from Stage II evaluation will present their proposals to a Panel. The Final Evaluation Panel comprises industry experts.

Proposals can be submitted through the TECS portal. POC proposals are accepted all-year-round and goes through Stage I and II evaluation. POV proposals are accepted and assessed each quarter, and goes through Stage I, II and III evaluation.

Bi-Weekly TECS Briefing Sessions

SPRING holds bi-weekly TEC briefing sessions where details and various preparations needed for the proposal submission will be shared. Interested applicants are encouraged to attend these sessions, to ensure that their proposals are comprehensive and to minimise any delay in the evaluation. They can check the next available briefing date at apps.spring.gov.sg/tecsportal/.

For all other queries on TECS, please contact us at tecs@spring.gov.sg.

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