January 23, 2020
Technology rewrites the rules on a regular basis. How can central banks cope with the emergence of cryptocurrencies, not backed by any country? And how can governments optimise food production, or speed up the alleviation of poverty, through sustainable practices and even virtual banking.
At SFF x SWITCH 2019, over 60,000 global innovators, regulators, and industry players from more than 140 countries met in a week-long event to discover new innovations in FinTech and deep tech. Through panel discussions, exhibitions, and networking sessions, the participants got a chance to explore the latest directions in sectors from urban agriculture, banking, to legacy industries like mining and oil & gas.
A GLIMPSE OF THE FUTURE
There were over 560 global industry leaders who shared their insights on the latest developments in innovation, like the price of security with facial recognition technologies on the rise, to brain-machine interface technologies that tackle global healthcare challenges and more.
With sustainability as the core theme in last year’s edition, participants learned about the development of alternative proteins to feed a future population of nine billion in the deep tech track. Beyond plant-based substitutes, we now have the ability to grow cell-based meat in laboratories.
In addition, vertical farming technologies now make it possible to have agricultural activity in “impossible” places, as showcased by NUS Enterprise on the exhibition floor. With close to 1,000 exhibitors, attendees got to envision the world of tomorrow with the different innovative technologies present at SFF x SWITCH.
In the TechXperience Zone, attendees interacted with technologies ranging from sustainable transportation devices to smart home systems. Startups include Magway, with an e-commerce delivery system that sends goods via underground pipelines. This takes more delivery vehicles off the road, reducing congestion, fuel demand, and carbon emissions from traffic.
Scorpio Electric also unveiled a scale model of Singapore’s first ever smart electric motorcycle at SFF x SWITCH. It removes carbon emissions while delivering a quality, affordable form of transport. The electric motorcycles are integrated with Internet of Things (IoT) technology, allowing users to control and run diagnostics over the bike through their smartphone.
Each new showcase and discussion brought about new possibilities, to cope with the challenges of an increasingly populated and resource-hungry world.
THE REALITIES OF CUTTING-EDGE BUSINESSES
For investors or entrepreneurs attending the conference, SFF x SWITCH provided a platform for global leaders to share their insights and experiences on running tech companies.
Industry experts like Dr Andrew Benedek, CEO of Anaergia, and Michael Pell, Senior Vice President of Marketing, Borouge addressed the financial realities on the ground. Stakeholder engagement at every end of the value chain is necessary to implement and turn sustainable technology into a viable business model; and companies need to keep an eye on competitive advantage, rather than just focusing on technology.
In a three-way conversation with Intel, Microsoft, and Nasdaq, leaders of the US tech giants explained how large corporates could work with disruptive startups going forward. While startups can bring new research capabilities and innovative products, corporates had the means to help them scale-up.
AN INSIGHT INTO NEW OPPORTUNITIES AND INITIATIVES
Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, in his keynote speech, announced a new initiative for Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Singapore. The Minister said this would be “the next step in our Smart Nation journey”.
Singapore now aims to deploy AI on a national level; the government has committed S$500 million to fund AI projects under the Research, Innovation and Enterprise (RIE) 2020 plan. This will come in the form of a new National AI Office, to make the country a leader in the field by 2030.
Mr Ong Ye Kung, Minister for Education, Singapore also shared the country’s current direction towards green finance; mobilising capital for the green economy, channelling the said capital into green purposes (such as reducing carbon emissions), and creating a “virtuous cycle” of environmentally sustainable growth in the economy.
The Minister said Singapore would work with others, toward creating common green bond standards; this will avoid fragmenting capital pools across borders, and tackle greenwashing (projects that are made to look green when they’re not).
RECOGNITION OF THE YEAR’S BRIGHTEST INNOVATIONS
SLINGSHOT 2019, an international pitching competition for startups, gave out a combined US$2 million worth of prizes; the Top 100 Global Startups pitched their ideas to over 200 global venture capitalists, corporates, accelerators, and incubators.
Some of the judges included Bidyut Dumra, Executive Director & Head of Innovation at DBS, Twitter’s own VP & Managing Director of Asia Pacific, Maya Hari, and Chris Yeo, head of Grab Ventures.
The grand prize winner of SLINGSHOT 2019 is Eko.ai, a medtech startup which developed an AI-powered echocardiography tool used to detect heart conditions quickly and affordably. Themis Industries S.r.l, focused on waste recovery technology, won the Deal Maker prize for garnering the highest level of investment interest
In all, over 2,400 applications from more than 120 countries were received for SLINGSHOT 2019.
SFF x SWITCH 2019 also brought together winning solutions of the Global FinTech Hackcelerator. This competition is a chance for small startups to address problem statements by established players, and find huge growth opportunities.
MAS announced three winners of the event last year, selected from 20 finalists. At the same time, MAS and the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) jointly announced 12 winners of the FinTech Awards; there were 245 submissions from over 30 countries.
AN UNPARALLELED MEETING OF MINDS AND OPPORTUNITIES
By the end of SFF x SWITCH, attendees would have got to hear - and perhaps even meet - a roll-call of some of the biggest players in the tech industry. Participants got to understand more in-depth concerns, and better grasp the real-world applications of new technologies.
This will be an essential component of the growing tech ecosystem: hybridisation, or the ability to work out of silos, and build on what others have done (or are currently doing). At the same time, the active interaction with regulators means that new technologies can be rolled out more smoothly, and adopted at a greater pace.
Stay tuned as we unveil what’s in store for you at SFF x SWITCH 2020, happening from 7 - 11 December 2020.
SWITCH 2020 will continue to take place as planned from 9 – 13 November 2020 in Singapore. The organising committee is closely monitoring the situation arising from COVID-19 outbreak and will keep the public informed of any updates. More details here.