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Breaking new ground at Day 1 of TechInnovation 2018

· TechInnovation,Event Highlights

Singapore’s premier technology-industry matching event, TechInnovation was back for its seventh year, as it continues to spearhead efforts in open innovation locally and in the region.

Professor Lam Khin Yong, Executive Director of IPI, opened the two-day conference and exhibition at Marina Bay Sands Expo & Convention Centre. He announced first-time partnerships with global consumer health company RB, as well as Innovate UK.

IPI signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with RB Health in the latter’s first private-public partnership in Singapore. RB intends to leverage IPI’s network to find solutions to some of the world’s largest consumer health challenges, kicking off with tackling early life undernourishment and its impact on infant development and disease prevention in later life. The partnership’s first call to action will be to translate ground-breaking research on mother and infant nutrition and the impact of microbiome on their health, into future products.

Microbiome is a collection of microorganisms and bacteria that naturally live in and on the human body. It is key to promoting adequate gut, immune and brain development, which helps mothers and infants achieve an optimal level of nutrition.

IPI also signed an MOU with Innovate UK, to promote UK-Singapore technology transfer and research and development collaboration. Both parties will exchange knowledge in terms of technology, as well as participate and support each other at mutual events.

Innovate UK is part of UK Research and Innovation, an organisation that champions research and innovation in the United Kingdom.

Professor Lam said that the MOUs underscore IPI’s commitment to drive business growth through technology partnerships and collaboration to address today’s pressing needs.

New TechExpert portal to support Singapore enterprises

Guest-of-Honour Dr Koh Poh Koon, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Trade & Industry, announced the launch of IPI’s TechExpert matching platform, which aims to address the challenges enterprises face when it comes to searching for the right specialised experts and know-how for their R&D and innovation projects.

For a start, IPI is inviting members of the Institution of Engineers, Singapore who have strong industry experience and specialised knowledge, to join the platform as technical experts. IPI is also engaging the start-up community through JTC for the platform.

Multi-nationals and start-ups seek partnerships

Day One’s Crowdsourcing sessions saw global companies invite partnerships from start-ups, academia and other firms, to solve specific challenges; whereas Crowdpitching sessions covered the latest developments in urban solutions and sustainability, services and digital economy, health and personal care, and advanced manufacturing and engineering.

One such company is French rubber specialist Hutchinson, which specialises in hi-tech sealing and fluid management systems. Crowdsourcing speaker Pierre Planché, Research & Innovation Director at Hutchinson’s Center of Research & Innovation, urged potential collaborators to come forward to assist in making an advanced sensor to determine flow rate.

The sensor will be placed inside Hutchinson’s rubber hose products. The challenge, however, lies in the building the sensor’s precision qualities - it cannot cause pressure loss, have moving parts, and there must be zero risk of leaks, he said. It also needs to withstand extreme temperatures of -40°C to 120 °C.

A Fitbit for the gut

Dr Mary Webberley from the University of Western Australia (UWA) is part of a delegation from Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), is seeking investors and collaborators in what she calls the Noisy Guts Project.

The project, led by Nobel Prize Winner Professor Barry Marshall, is creating a medical device that helps diagnose irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) by tracking sounds made in the gut. She likens it to a Fitbit, except that it is worn on the abdomen.

“IBS is a chronic disorder that causes pain, diarrhoea and constipation. It is extremely common, affecting 800 million people worldwide,” said Dr Webberley. Its symptoms overlap with a number of other digestive ailments, making diagnosis tricky.

Unfortunately, the most common method of diagnosing IBS is invasive, with patients having to undergo costly colonoscopies to exclude other gut disorders. This leaves patients confused – what they want is for a test to tell them what they do have so they can get started on treatment.

“IBS is notoriously difficult to diagnose and treat. Competition is limited, and no one else is using acoustic analysis in this way,” she said.

“UWA’s research shows a strong correlation between gut noises and gut disorders. The project’s end result is a safe, non-invasive monitoring and diagnostic tool,” added Dr Webberley.

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