The inaugural DBS Foundation Social Impact Prize Finals at LKYGBPC will be held virtually on the 9 October 2020.
The DBS Foundation Social Impact Prize at the Lee Kuan Yew Global Business Plan Competition (LKYGBPC) will be awarded to the most innovative business plans, start-ups or early-stage ventures that address pertinent urban challenges faced by cities of today.
In addition to the evaluation criteria for the LKYGBPC, qualifying applications for the DBS Foundation Social Impact Prize are also assessed on:
- Clear identification of the social or environmental problem
- Creativity in addressing the identified challenge statement and stakeholders involved
- Ability to measure the social or environmental impact created
- Scalability and sustainability of solution and impact
The award worth SGD 150,000 includes prize money of up to SGD 100,000 and post-competition support, such as access to DBS Foundation’s capacity building programmes, brand awareness and marketing features on DBS Foundation’s website, brand campaigns, media stories etc, the use of DBS premises when in Singapore for launch or community events and network and connection to DBS Foundation’s social enterprise alumni community and partners.
The Four Finalists are:
Bluepha — China
Fighting Plastic Pollution with the Power of Microbes
Bluepha is a microorganism company based in Beijing that has developed a bio-based and biodegradable plastic PHA to replace conventional plastics. Their innovative and patented biotech ensures low-cost industrial-scale production of PHA that degrades in natural environments, including in the ocean. The PHA developed by Bluepha can be widely applied across industries, such as packaging, textile, and toys, to replace conventional plastics.
Polybee — Singapore
Enhancing Food Security by Automating Pollination
Polybee is on a mission to increase productivity in agriculture by taking the natural process of pollination into its own hands. Since wind, insects and birds cannot operate indoors, there is no scalable solution for pollination in many urban cities. By operating autonomous mini drones using in aerial robotics and computer vision, Polybee executes precise pollination at indoor vertical farms, where there is no alternative to manual pollination. Polybee has partnered with Singapore Food Agency to initiate a commercial pilot.
Sampangan — Indonesia
Enriching Food Nutrition from Landfill Waste
Sampangan is a waste-to-carbon technology service company that aims to help local governments, agriculture areas, industrial areas, and waste transporters process waste in both solid and liquid forms safely and sustainably. Using their carbonized technology (“Magic Box”), they can convert organic and non-organic waste into active carbon or biochar. Heat radiation is used instead of full incineration making this process environmentally friendly. The biochar material can help fix farm soil and increase harvest yields in an organic and sustainable manner.
StratifiCare — Singapore
World’s First Severe Dengue Prediction Test
StratifiCare has discovered a panel of biomarkers that can determine the progress of Dengue Fever. Patients who are predicted not to progress to severe Dengue can be managed at outpatient settings, instead of bearing expenses being hospitalised. Their innovation will help reduce the over-hospitalization issue faced by medical providers and relieve healthcare burden especially in poorer Dengue-endemic developing countries.
Watch the DBS Foundation Social Impact Prize Finals
Due to the uncertainties of international travel and health considerations amid COVID-19, the inaugural DBS Foundation Social Impact Prize Finals at LKYGBPC will be held virtually.
Date: 9 October 2020
Time: 11:45AM – 2:00PM (Singapore time, GMT +8)
Join our panel of distinguished judges for the live pitching, and don’t miss a special conversation segment with DBS Group CEO, Piyush Gupta!
Tan Su Shan, Group Head of Institutional Banking, DBS
Nick Nash, Managing Partner & Co-Founder, Asia Partners
Quek Siu Rui, Group CEO & Co-Founder, Carousell
A new smart planter is set to provide a simple and efficient way to green buildings and surfaces where conventional planting is impossible. Griffith University PhD student Majed Abuseif has just been announced as a finalist in the QBE AcceliCITY Resilience Challenge for his project using artificial intelligence and simulation models to incorporate green infrastructure into building and the urban environment. The global competition seeks entrepreneurs whose ventures use smart city solutions to address risk, equity and sustainability in our urban environments and has narrowed it down to the ten best solutions.
Working as an architect and landscape architect, the scientist’s PhD focuses on the implementation of trees on buildings, and building science and environmental simulations. He noted that the smart planter box enables us to green buildings and surfaces, indoors or outdoors, in any environment. It is a novel modular system capable of supporting standard plants and trees.
Scientists have been working to redress the growing ecological imbalance caused by urban development by incorporating certain types of green infrastructure such as green roofs and walls, but unfortunately, the technologies available to date have been limited and need infrastructure to host them.
Putting plants on buildings generally presents risks that hinder their implementation, such as plant roots, wind loads, waterproofing, irrigation requirements and other problems. The scientist engaged with industry partners and worldwide experts trying to integrate trees on buildings by incorporating rooftop gardens. He found some traditional technologies that could be used on buildings and then started developing a design based on a modular system that can be put on any surface and any location.
The planter box can be integrated into existing infrastructure, or act as a stand-alone planter. It can calculate anything the green infrastructure needs – from the amount of water the plant needs, to the temperature of the leaves, or even how it will perform inside the built environment.
The system can even be connected to Smart Cities and Smart Building models, so councils and developers can obtain better insights on climate change and urban heat islands to help with the development of mitigation strategies.
The smart planter box is a closed system so it can mimic any environment. The planer’s development could place the system in a forest and develop it to mimic a bushfire situation, so when there is a risk of a bushfire it will give us the alarm and we could act before a disaster happens.
As a result, the system has a water compartment, it can harvest water, so it can also help mitigate stormwater flooding issues in the city. The team can even use this system to predict the energy consumption of buildings and validate the environmental aspect of a building.
Architects will be able to use this as a design tool and a research tool, which will help in designing sustainable buildings as well as monitoring them. The next step is to deliver my skills and design for people around the world, helping to save the planet and enhancing people’s lifestyles.
Thailand’s Digital Economy Promotion Agency (DEPA) has received technical assistance from the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) to enhance the information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure along with the development of smart city initiatives in Phuket.
“Working closely with DEPA, Phuket has been proactive in adopting purposeful technological solutions to improve the well-being and economic viability of its citizens and visitors. Thanks to the strong support of both USTDA and the Phuket Provincial Government, we are confident that this technical assistance will lead to a long-term citizen-centric digital transformation and strengthen ties among all parties involved,” says Dr Nuttapon Nimmanphatcharin, DEPA President and Chief Executive Officer.
The USTDA is happy to cooperate with DEPA and the Phuket Provincial Government to achieve their goals as Thailand has an ambitious smart cities agenda, according to Enoh T. Ebong, USTDA Director.
He added that by assisting Phuket in the deployment of these innovative and cutting-edge solutions, they will have a good influence on the lives of Thais and the millions of international tourists that visit each year. Their work will also assist to generate chances for U.S. companies to provide the types of technologies and services that Phuket needs.
Moreover, the USTDA assistance, according to the US Embassy in Thailand, will help develop technical requirements and a detailed strategy for the development of the Phuket Smart City Data Platform – a tool that leverages data and technological innovations to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of city management and citizen services.
The aid will facilitate the modernisation of Phuket’s integrated operations centre and essential ICT infrastructure, including traffic control and emergency communications systems, fibre-optic networks, data servers, cloud migration, cybersecurity, and 5G development.
Gwendolyn J. Cardno, Chargé d’Affaires at the US Embassy in Bangkok, on the other hand, stated that the project is a great example of how the Thai-U.S. partnership can stimulate a vibrant digital economy and provide direct benefits for Thais while supporting the nation’s efforts to build a greener, smarter, and higher-value tourism sector. She added that with the U.S. as a partner, Thailand will be able to benefit from decades of American invention and thrive in this era of the digital revolution.
Furthermore, Thailand has proclaimed the success of its hosting of the APEC Women and the Economy Forum (WEF) and has vowed to promote women’s empowerment and gender equality alongside other APEC member nations.
Anucha Burapachaisri, Deputy Secretary-General to the Prime Minister and Acting Government Spokesperson, recently revealed Thailand’s accomplishments in hosting the APEC Women and the Economy Forum (WEF).
Thailand and other APEC nations agreed during the summit to encourage networking for inclusive female empowerment, underlining that a friendly and accommodating environment for women to thrive is critical to promoting equitable and sustainable economic growth in the region.
The meeting also emphasised the importance of preventing and eliminating all forms of gender-based violence and discrimination against women and girls, as well as empowering and advancing women and gender equality in the Asia Pacific region by 2040, to achieve an open, dynamic, resilient, and peaceful Asia-Pacific community for the prosperity of all people and future generations.
As host of APEC 2022, Thailand envisions a robust and sustainable economy and society by implementing the Bio-Circular-Green (BCG) Economy model, according to a government spokesperson.
This strategy combines and synergizes three economic methods that leverage technology and innovation to create value, reduce waste, and encourage sustainable enterprises.
Thai authorities have reaffirmed their commitment to fostering female empowerment in all areas to achieve balanced and inclusive digital and socioeconomic as well as environmental progress.
In response to the need for indoor urban farming solutions, the National University of Singapore (NUS) officially opened the Research Centre on Sustainable Urban Farming (SUrF) to bring together the diverse expertise of principal investigators from across the University to develop new science and technology-based solutions for urban farming in the country.
“NUS is committed to making significant contributions towards Singapore’s food policy agenda, together with partners in the public sector and the industry. We aim to create a globally competitive research programme in sustainable urban farming that incorporates smart agriculture solutions for diverse stakeholders,” says Professor Tan Eng Chye, NUS President.
A core team from the domains of science, engineering, and computing makes up SUrF, a research organisation that focuses on sustainable urban farming. This exclusive group of researchers has experience in a variety of topics, including plant science, genomics and gene editing, microbiomes, food science, materials and polymer science, sensor technologies, data science, and artificial intelligence (AI) for indoor farming.
The team will start multidisciplinary programmes to build a cross-boundary, sustainable platform for improving plant performance both before and after harvest, including harvest yield, nutritional profile, and safety assurance.
A new facility for the Centre, with around 200 square metres of indoor plant growth area for research, is planned to be completed by early 2023.
There will be three growth rooms and an additional precision growth room where environmental parameters such as temperature and light spectrum can be changed to promote better plant growth with potentially improved phytonutrients.
PlantEye, a non-destructive phenotyping device for monitoring plant development and recording plant health, as well as many analytical tools for studying nutrient content, will be part of the research equipment.
The Centre will also have access to NUS’s cutting-edge laboratories for molecular genetics research, including gene editing.
Furthermore, SUrF’s research focuses on three stages of food production: before, during, and after production. The goal of the Centre is to come up with solutions for growers and work with local businesses to meet their needs.
Post-harvest interventions can also help improve the nutritional value and microbial safety of food. According to preliminary findings, LED lighting not only removes organisms that cause spoiling but also increases the nutritional quality of green crops.
The team’s next steps will be to develop LED illumination technology specifically for green vegetables typically consumed in Singapore, as well as to test their technique in simulated retail circumstances.
In addition, there are 16 principal investigators in SUrF from the NUS Departments of Biological Science, Food Science and Technology, Biomedical Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Computer Science. They oversee about 10 research projects.
One of these projects is trying to make it easier to grow leafy greens in cities. Most crops grown on indoor farms aren’t good for controlled environments because they were grown in the field. This makes growing plants indoors ineffective and unsustainable, with a low yield.
Researchers are looking into new ways to breed plants, such as genomic selection and gene editing, to make leafy vegetable varieties with traits that work well in controlled environments. This is done to improve the quality and productivity of agriculture.
On the other hand, the team made bio-inoculants of bacteria that help plants grow. These can be used in different farming situations, such as when plants are grown in soil, peat, or coconut fibres, or when hydroponic systems are used.
This could help crops grow better and be more resilient in a way that isn’t harmful to the environment. It could also reduce the need for chemical fertilisers.
A team from the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Hong Kong (HKU) has developed a novel e-inspection 2.0 system with an in-house developed mobile application (APP) “e-inStar”, which is used to monitor the manufacturing and cross-border delivery of student residence modules constructed in the Mainland during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new system has adopted cutting-edge digital technologies including blockchain, building information modelling (BIM), Internet Of Things (IoT), and geographical information system (GIS), and is demonstrated to be an effective and reliable tool for real-time offshore monitoring and inspection of building works.
The study was led by Professor Wilson Lu of the Department of Real Estate and Construction alongside Dr Frank Xue from the same Department, Professor Anthony Yeh from the Department of Urban Planning and Design, and Ir Mr KL Tam, Director of Estates.
The research findings have been published in the Journal of Management in Engineering, an academic journal of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). Modular Integrated Construction (MiC) was first mentioned in the HKSAR Chief Executive’s 2017 Policy Address to expedite the building process to increase supplies.
The HKU Wong Chuk Hang Student Residence is a pilot project built with the MiC technology. The two 17-floor tower buildings on top of a three-story podium structure will provide 1,224 student hall places. The project is scheduled to be completed by the second quarter of 2023. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, qualified inspectors were dispatched across the border for inspection, involving a lot of manpower and onerous paperwork.
The current e-inspection 1.0 system used by the industry adopts some digital means, which allow the easing of some paperwork, such as uploading of inspection photos and documents for filing and records, but inspectors’ physical presence onsite remains necessary.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, infectious control measures such as social distancing and border control measures have made sending authorised persons from Hong Kong to Mainland factories for onsite inspections extremely difficult.
The new e-inspection 2.0 system consists of a mobile application called e-inStar which encodes the standardised inspection processes of MiC and enables inspection works in an offshore factory. The detailed operations are as follows:
- The contractor generates a list of inspection tasks for a specific project.
- Different stakeholders (e.g., registered structure engineer, authorised person) register on the platform and state their role types.
- A two-factor authentication (2FA) (i.e., password and fingerprint) will confirm the identity of the inspectors.
- When a construction task is completed, the contractor checks the target objects regarding the check items and records the corresponding data (i.e., inspection results and photos)
- At hold points, the client representative and/or registered structural engineer, authorised person and building service inspector ask the contractor’s inspectors to recheck target objects under their real-time video supervision.
- The recheck results are compared with the record, and if they are the same and in compliance, the client representative and/or registered structural engineer, authorised person, and building service inspector can digitally sign the record in the distributed blockchain network.
- If any inconsistency or noncompliance is spotted, a request for re-inspection will be sent to the contractor. All records on procedures, being dispersed and stored in the blockchain network, are traceable.
- The signed record is converted into a legally effective document and stored in a distributed blockchain network. All records are thus immutable and safeguarded in the blockchain network.
Also, IoTs are utilised to collect temperature, humidity, vibration, and location information; GIS supports real-time proof of location, while BIM is used for better information management and presentation.
The core of the e-inspection 2.0 system is the blockchain technology which can ensure the accountability, immutability, and traceability of all the inspection information collected from the APP, IoTs, and GIS.
The team is developing and researching BIM and blockchain, effectively integrating and managing all kinds of information such as design, construction, and operation for high-end technology applications.
Professor Anthony Yeh, a GIS expert, stated that GPS technology can provide a certificate of origin and real-time proof of location (PoL). Managers can view the real-time location of the module at any time, with accurate spatiotemporal data for real-time management of materials in construction projects, thereby improving work efficiency.
His team has carried out pioneer research and development of indoor and outdoor navigation systems and has generated many patents. The application programme and smart address system developed by Professor Yeh’s team have been applied in this project for logistics monitoring. The project was supported by the Logistics and Supply Chain MultiTech R&D Centre established under the Innovation and Technology Fund.
The Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) has begun its ground-breaking Universal Basic Mobility Pilot in South Los Angeles, one of the country’s largest initiatives of its kind, providing thousands of Angelenos with more transportation options.
The pilot will include e-bikes, shared electric vehicles, and an on-demand EV shuttle service, as well as a partnership with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (METRO) to subsidise transit fares for 2,000 residents in the pilot area who have previously lacked safe transportation options.
As a city, we must prioritise equal access to dignified, reliable, safe, and affordable transportation that serves residents’ needs regardless of income. This initiative helps empower South LA communities and lay the foundation for a concerted, citywide effort to achieve Universal Basic Mobility.
– Seleta Reynolds, General Manager, LADOT
Reynolds added mobility is essential to an opportunity that LADOT’s has committed to providing Universal Basic Mobility for Angelenos. University Basic Mobility (UBM) is a philosophy which argues that access to reliable transportation is critical to success. People cannot access essential requirements such as education, job, housing, and healthcare without mobility. In Los Angeles, for example, there are twelve times more employment accessible in one hour by vehicle than by public transportation.
The Mobility Wallet is the first component of the South LA UBM programme. To bring the wallet to life, LA Metro is exploring two distinct concurrent technology development paths: 1) Pay with TAP and 2) payment cards (such as Visa, Mastercard, or PayPal).
The second element is the Electric Mobility, which consists of an E-bike Library, On-demand Community Shuttle, Electric Vehicle CarShare Electric vehicle (EV) car share expansion.
UBM’s Charging for All initiative is the third element that seeks to build a network of public Level 2 (L2) EV chargers throughout the Sustainable Transportation Equity Project (STEP) project area, including up to 100 chargers at LA Public Libraries, Recreation and Park facilities, and on streetlights.
The programme’s fourth component is the Quick-build Active Streets. LADOT will engage the STEP neighbourhood through pop-up demonstrations, temporary installations such as fresh planters or curb paint, community-design exercises, and other methods to implement street safety elements to envision safe and accessible spaces for all users, including active transportation.
In addition, INFRA financing from the US Department of Transportation will bring US$ 18 million in new active transportation infrastructure to the project region, which is closely related to the project’s goals.
Rail-to-Rail First Mile-Last Mile as the fifth element is proposing links that would be provided via the future Rail-to-Rail Active Transportation Corridor and the Crenshaw/LAX Fairview Heights Station. Within a half-mile gap between the County’s first rails to trails project and this first mile / last mile project, additions such as navigation, improved signage, striping, and other improvements will allow a safe and comfortable pedestrian and bike experience.
The sixth element is Community Outreach. Community-based organizations will serve as advisors on crucial issues including charger/e-bike station placement, pilot participants, and design, in collaboration with the Mobility Development, South Los Angeles Transit Zone (Slate-Z), Los Angeles Trade Technical College (LATTC) and CicLAvia.
Workforce Development at UBM is the seventh element. LATTC and LACI will provide targeted workforce training to community members to equip them for jobs in the Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE), such as e-bike and EV servicing.
And the last UBM Project Element is the Delivery with Zero Emissions. Based on community needs, this component will fund a variety of vehicle types including NEVs, electric vans, and other electric delivery services, as well as e-cargo cycles.
Nearly US$ 18 million in state and city funds are presently supporting the Pilot. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) recently announced that LADOT will receive an extra US$ 6.7 million in financing from California Climate Investments (CCI) for its pioneering pilot, which will be added to the $7 million the department received from the Board last year. The Los Angeles City Council approved US$ 4 million earlier this year to extend transportation subsidies and other programme aspects.
A comprehensive approach is needed for New York City to meet its clean energy targets including battery storage and innovative adaptation of its current infrastructure. The New York Power Authority (NYPA) has recently issued a Request for Proposals for the potential use of its small clean power plant sites and related electric infrastructure for the development of bulk-scale battery storage projects.
The decision came after a result stating that the small clean power plants (SCPPs) in New York City could start the transition to low or zero carbon emission technologies in advance of NYPA’s VISION2030 goal of decarbonisation by 2035 and the target of the New York State of a zero-emission electricity sector by 2040.
According to NYPA Interim President and CEO Justin E. Driscoll, as the state moves forward with offshore wind, solar, and transmission projects that will bring more clean energy to New York City, NYPA is encouraged by the modelling and forecasting in this collaborative study, which may be able to accelerate the transition to a cleaner energy technology within city plants, ensuring that the city’s energy system remains reliable and resilient.
Recognised as “peaker plants” to be used at times of ‘peak’ electricity demand was installed by the NYPA at six locations in New York City and one on Long Island. They operate seldom for about 10% of the time, in recent years, when directed to do so to meet energy demands in order to provide local reliability and resiliency.
The study that focused solely on NYPA’s in-city peaker plants has key findings that resulted to:
First, each small clean power plant site presents the potential for adaption solutions, including full or near-full replacement with battery storage by 2030, based on features and battery density assumptions.
Second, as electrification demands rise and New York moves toward a carbon-free system by 2040, a system-wide dependability requirement is envisaged, which will necessitate energy resources capable of longer dispatch durations than batteries alone can provide.
Third, the frequency and duration of run-times at NYPA’s small clean power plants would make full replacement with battery storage impossible based on historical output levels; however, by 2030, the frequency and duration of the plants’ run-times are projected to decline, allowing for full replacement with 4-hour battery storage at each individual site.
The fourth finding, there may be potential to further displace higher-emitting fossil production, resulting in large reductions in local NOx emissions, under a more ambitious view of decarbonisation in New York City, as shown in an Alternative Scenario; and the last finding was the fossil-fired power in New York City is expected to fall dramatically as New York State adds additional renewable energy, energy storage, and transmission resources to achieve the Climate Act’s goals.
The findings of this study are based on assumptions in production cost modelling, such as future build-out and integration of more renewable resources, as well as future transmission and distribution expansion and modernisation.
While the study’s findings suggest that energy storage has a bright future, they also suggest that as more electrification drives up electricity demand, the system-wide energy demand during periods of low renewable output will require perfect capacity (on-demand, reliable, and without duration constraints) energy resources or longer duration storage technologies to fill the gap and avoid reliability issues beyond 2030.
NYPA commissioned the study in collaboration with the PEAK Coalition to look into clean energy possibilities for decarbonising NYPA’s peaker units.
Auckland is New Zealand’s most populous city edging out even the capital Wellington. Now, it’s once again leading the way in clean energy with its two electric marine vehicles for the public. Auckland harbour ferries are set to get quieter, cleaner and greener, thanks to two new fully-electric ferries for commuters and sightseers to travel on, Minister for Energy and Resources Dr Megan Woods announced recently.
Auckland Transport will operate the two electric fast ferries across all major inner and mid-harbour services, and the new ferries will provide a pathway for further ferry electrification in the future.
Today’s ferries contribute about 20% of Auckland’s public transport emissions. These electric ferries promise to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, with each electric ferry displacing approximately 1000 tonnes of carbon emissions annually.
– Dr Megan Woods, Minister for Energy and Resources
Moreover, the minister detailed this project will be a major boost to the rapidly developing maritime clean technology sector in New Zealand and will further upskill the maritime transport sector in New Zealand. Plus, this is a boost for our climate goals and our economy, which is especially vital as the country continues our economic recovery from Covid-19.
Further, she stressed the government’s commitment to supporting low-emission transport options. She disclosed how much the government has invested significantly in on-road electric vehicles and has pledged to decarbonise the public transport bus fleet. It’s but natural that electrifying water transport happens, Woods affirmed. As such, she is looking forward to boarding one of Auckland’s first electric ferries once they hit the harbour, the energy minister detailed.
Climate Change Minister James Shaw said that with the announcement the Government had taken another important step on the journey to a low emissions future. It’s but timely for Auckland as a harbour city. Getting around by ferry is the norm for many thousands of Aucklanders. Shaw elaborated that today’s announcement means that instead of fossil fuels powering many of those journeys, people will be getting around in ways that help create a climate-friendly, prosperous future for New Zealand.
In the near future, the Emissions Reduction Plan will include many more initiatives to cut emissions from transport so that more people across New Zealand have access to low carbon ways of getting around, Shaw added.
However, the ferries are still on the drawing board. They are expected to launch in 2024. The project itself will be led by council-controlled Auckland Transport which has received a $27 million grant funding from the Government to pay approximately 75% of the costs of constructing two new electric ferries.
Auckland Transport will own and operate the two electric ferries. Per the report, the ferries can reach a top speed of 25 knots (on par with today’s diesel ferries) with a range of 40km. As for the funding, it comes from the Infrastructure Reference Group’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund.
Approaching digital transformation with clean energy is a wise choice. It means that a country such as New Zealand is after the planet’s welfare in the long term.