Team E-Pursuers from the University of Southeastern
Philippines was declared
the Grand Winner of the Philippine Startup Challenge (PSC) 4 National Finals
held last 6 April 2018 at Green Sun Hotel, Makati City.
The Philippine Startup Challenge is a national startup
competition which aims to encourage the youth to create innovative solutions to
real life problems. The Department of Information and Communications
Technology (DICT) organised the Challenge, with support from the Philippine
Software Industry Association (PSIA), Huawei Philippines, Ideaspace,
Launchgarage, and Philippine Society of IT Educators (PSITE).
This year’s edition of the Startup Challenge received 202
entries – a 25% increase from the previous year. The ten national
finalists were announced
in March 2018
The all-female winning team, comprised of Mariah Nicole
Perez de Tagle, Daniella Javilles, and Annie Marrise Insong, developed a mobile
wallet application, called Centsilyo, that digitally pays for items and also
stores changes up until the last cent.
Centsilyo, a play on the word sensilyo, a Bisaya term
for change, Team E-Pursuers envisions in reinforcing Republic Act 10909 (No
Shortchanging Act of 2016), which prohibits business establishments from giving
insufficient or no change to consumers.
Team E-Pursuers also received the Huawei Philippines Special
Award, earning them an invite to join the Seeds for the Future Program in
October for a two-week immersion in startup hubs in Beijing and Shenzhen,
The team will continue to develop the app with the support
they gained from the competition.
“We will (pursue it), and we already talked to the people
here that are willing to mentor us or invest in our app,” said Daniella
Team Technogeeks’ Taptrack of the University of Science and
Technology of Southern Philippines and Team Rocket’s Venturepal of the
University of Cebu (UC) were in the second and third place, respectively. The
Elaborators’ myMDLab of Manuel S. Enverga University Foundation won the Social
Taptrack is a portable RFID-based attendance management
system with SMS transmission for field workers, while Venturepal is an online
investment pooling platform for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
myMDLab is a digital application which lets patients request for
laboratory services at the comfort of their homes.
DICT Undersecretary Monchito B. Ibrahim, Mr Jojo Flores
(Launchgarage), Mr Butch Meily (Ideaspace Foundation Inc.), and Mr Wellington
Liu (Huawei Philippines) constituted the board of judges.
Ms Rosario Gruet, co-founder of Spring.PH
(Software Products Incubation Group )
and PSC 4 head judge, noted how the judges had a difficult time determining the
“The scores of the teams were close because we were quite
happy with the teams’ (pitches) this year,” said Ms Gruet.
In his keynote speech, OIC Secretary Eliseo M. Rio Jr. said,
“This is what the DICT is all about: cultivating a culture of innovation.”
 Launched by PSIA, SPRING.ph aims to be the
industry platform to nurture, encourage, educate, and support the needs of
Filipino software startups. To date, close to 50 companies (representing PSIA
member and non-member companies) and 24 product teams have joined SPRING.ph.
New Zealand border workers have begun trailing a monitoring app, called elarm, that uses smartwatch data and is designed to detect the COVID-19 virus before the user develops any noticeable symptoms. New Zealand government is the first in the world to launch a pilot with the technology.
Elarm connects to wearable devices such as fitness trackers and smartwatches and uses artificial intelligence (AI) to check variables such as heart rate and temperature for symptoms of COVID-19, a report has explained. Up to 500 border workers can voluntarily participate in the month-long pilot, which will run until early May. After installing the app on a smart device, they will receive regular notifications and alerts during the day and can view their own health information on the app.
The developer, New Zealand-based start-up Datamine, claims it can detect the virus with 83% accuracy up to three days before the appearance of symptoms such as coughing, breathing difficulties, and fatigue. The technology uses AI to establish a health baseline for each user, then alerts them if there are physiological changes consistent with COVID-19, all data used by the app is private to the individual participants.
The health department said it could provide a vital early warning for workers at the border who face the most risk of exposure to the virus. New Zealand has practically eliminated community spread within the country, making frontline staff who interact with travellers more vulnerable than the rest of the population, another report said. Datamine will provide wearable devices for any of the border workers taking part who do not already have a wearable device. Fitbit will also provide a number of devices to border control workers in Auckland.
“If the elarm app lives up to its potential, it might provide early notification to our critical border workforce if they’re becoming unwell,” Deputy Health Director Shayne Hunter said. “That means they can take appropriate action such as self-isolating and be tested for COVID-19.” He also explained that contact tracing is at the heart of the government’s COVID-19 response, and it is essential that the government finds and treats people who might have been exposed to the virus before it has a chance to reach other communities. The country has already deployed tools such as the NZ COVID Tracer app and QR code posters, and the Ministry of Health is investigating other technologies that might provide further support for contact tracing.
New Zealand has been largely successful in containing the virus, with just 26 deaths in a population of 5 million. The few community cases that have occurred have generally been linked to border workers who were exposed to the virus via incoming travellers undergoing quarantine. “Even though our border workers are vaccinated, the reality is that some people will still feel unsure about the increased risk of exposure to COVID-19 from working on the border,” Hunter noted.
The country’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, wants all border workers to get vaccinated by the end of April, especially after two cases were linked this month to an unvaccinated border worker. Even after that, the Ministry of Health sees elarm as “another layer of protection” against new variants and the fact that vaccines are not 100% effective, according to Datamine CEO Paul O’Connor.
There is other research being undertaken of similar technology supporting the use of wearable devices to detect COVID-19 and other transmissible diseases. This includes studies by Stanford University, Scripps Institute, and UCSF.
NZTech is launching Tech21, a programme of activity and events in collaboration with New Zealand’s Ministry of Education to help inspire young learners to venture into tech careers.
The organisation says that the recent research published in their digital skills report found a decreasing number of students taking courses that will prepare them for an opportunity to work in the many new and exciting tech careers within the growing tech sector. The Tech21 initiative will help expose some of the vast arrays of opportunities available for the next generation in tech roles across the country, he added.
Tech21 will begin with a summit featuring high profile New Zealand tech leaders. The students will hear from young successful role models so that hopefully they will see themselves as a tech entrepreneur or working in a cool tech job when they leave school. The Tech21 summit will also launch the opening of Techweek2021, a weeklong nationwide festival of innovation.
The Tech21 event will showcase tech innovation, creativity and the opportunities for technology career pathways leading into New Zealand’s fastest-growing and highest-paid sector. Tech21 will focus on the following areas:
- Why is digital tech so important?
- What will the tech future be like?
- How to understand why a tech career is right for a young person?
- What is a tech career like?
- What career pathways are available?
Also, the recent digital skills survey found that New Zealand’s tech leaders backed the creation of a digital apprenticeship programme. Experts say that there is a real interest and passion within the tech sector to help students find pathways into the rising tech sector. This sort of scheme could open a door into a tech career for those that are less likely to do an IT degree.
The survey also found that there was strong support for internships to help students develop work experience and the skills that employers say are lacking in many graduates. Tech leaders say that there is a once in a generation opportunity here to find ways to encourage young people into a large variety of well paid, future proof jobs.
Accordingly, reports say that New Zealand’s education sector needs to face up to automation and the way it will affect people’s jobs in years to come – and it needs to move quickly to do so.
In a submission to the New Zealand Productivity Commission on the topic of how technology will impact the future of work in New Zealand, EdTechNZ says that New Zealand’s education sector needs a serious shakeup. According to them, New Zealand’s education and skills system does not have a shared view of current or desirable outcomes for New Zealand’s digitally dependent society. Consideration should be given to how the skill needs of the tech industry can be better understood by the education sector, perhaps through an industry body forum. Future workers will need advanced technical skills to operate in an increasingly digital working environment but also skills for the roles that cannot be easily automated.
EdTechNZ says it has witnessed the impact that automation technologies are having on people’s jobs. Workers now and in the future will need an education system that can keep up with the pace of global technological change. They add that the education sector is struggling to keep up with workplace change. The education sector is often held back by difficulty innovating and scaling new initiatives quickly enough.
Besides, due to the relatively large numbers of small to medium companies, employers are less likely to plan for or invest in future skills at the expense of the immediate needs and daily pressures of their businesses. The mismatches between capability and expectation will only grow. Government has a role to raise awareness and urgency of the issue and encourage the development of training for future skills that may not be readily apparent to the employer such as digital literacy. Government investment is required in every scenario.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will support eight joint research projects proposed by the Space Technology Cell (STC) of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Delhi. ISRO will support the projects under its RESPOND programme with varying durations of one to three years.
According to a news report, the projects will be coordinated by ISRO scientists at the Space Applications Centre (SAC), the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC), the Semi-conductor Laboratory (SCL), and the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC). The eight collaborative research projects on which scientists from ISRO centres and IIT-Delhi will work jointly include:
Designing Speciality Glasses Employing Machine Learning and Meta-Heuristic Optimisation: Speciality glasses are ubiquitously used in space applications such as telescopic lenses and window shields in space vehicles. The project aims to develop new glasses with improved thermal and mechanical performance that can withstand the conditions of extreme cold or hot weather in outer space.
Indigenous Sensor-based Real-Time Flood Warning Smart System: This aims to provide real-time warning to the community, by assimilating information through sensor networks and corrected satellite products. This would provide a faster, more reliable warning system that will enable better protection of community infrastructure and lives.
Establishing a Coupled Indian Land Data Assimilation System (ILDAS) to identify hydrologic extremes: This system will have widespread water resource applications, including drought and flood forecasting and understanding land-atmosphere interactions.
Classical Trajectory Monte Carlo Simulations of the Plasma dynamics in electrode-less plasma thruster: The project aims to understand the plasma dynamics in electrode-less thrusters, which are used for electric propulsion and have a longer lifespan than their electrode-based counterparts. Electric propulsion schemes exhibit high-fuel efficiency and lower thrust than chemical propulsion schemes and are therefore preferred for deep space missions.
Analysis of Variable Stiffness Composite Honeycomb Sandwich Structures with Embedded Delamination: The project aims to develop an efficient finite element formulation to evaluate displacements and stresses in composite structures, widely used in aerospace and space applications.
Impact of Satellite Observations in a Coupled System to Predict Storm Tides and its Coastal Inundation: The project aims at the real-time prediction of the vulnerability of the Indian coasts to tropical cyclones through satellite observations well in advance to minimise cyclone-induced damages.
Development of a Numerical Simulator for Micro-fabricated Electrospray Thrusters: The project will develop advanced computational tools to simulate miniaturised electrospray thrusters to speed up the design of similar thrusters for small spacecrafts. This will address the need for a miniaturised propulsion system to manoeuvre and orbit control of micro and nanosatellites at a low cost.
Low-Pressure Systems: LPSs and their nonlinear interaction with other scales in the atmosphere through the lens of Scale Energetics.
While welcoming the joint research activities between ISRO and IIT-Delhi, Professor Ramgopal Rao, Director, IIT-Delhi said that the institute is committed to taking its interactions with ISRO to the next level. It has some of the world’s experts in various technology domains such as land surface modelling, remote sensing, and molecular dynamics simulations who will extend their expertise to ISRO and play a key role in making its future endeavours successful.
Apart from IIT-Delhi, ISRO has also set up STCs at various other institutions like the IITs in Bombay, Kanpur, Kharagpur, Madras, Roorkee, and Guwahati. The STCs have been assigned the responsibility to carry out research activities in the areas of space technology and applications and are guided by the Joint Policy Committees (JPC).
Indonesia continues to strengthen its e-commerce sector when one of its start-ups earned an investment of US$ 234 million or around IDR 3.4 trillion. This funding round was led by an international tech giant, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, and a media conglomerate based in Indonesia.
The Indonesian unicorn said that this partnership marks a deep collaboration with the international tech giant in a series of technology projects that will transform technology-based trading solutions as well as solutions and operations in Indonesia. Through this collaboration, the companies will work together on three initiatives:
The first is to build a strong infrastructure, one of which is for cloud computing. The second is bridging the digital divide, and finally, providing digital skills training for employees and traffickers. The start-up is optimistic that the technology will support the company that is serving each of the six million online Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) partners and stalls, as well as 100 million customers in the country.
Recently, the unicorn also partnered with a multinational financial arm. This collaboration on the other hand will focus on digital banking services, with banking as a service solution programme. The start-up said that this partnership increases their enthusiasm for realising a fair economy in Indonesia.
There are at least two main focuses of the partnership. First, presenting innovations in the field of financial services and e-commerce. Both will offer a variety of innovative financial services through the start-up’s ecosystem. Second, encouraging financial inclusion in Indonesia.
MSMEs in Indonesia have a very important role in the national economy, where based on data from the Ministry of Cooperatives, it is noted that MSMEs are a sector that contributes 60.34% of national GDP and absorbs 58.18% of total investment in Indonesia. In the COVID-19 pandemic, Indonesia reports that 87.5% of MSMEs were affected by the pandemic. However, 27.6% of MSMEs that run their businesses online increased during the pandemic.
According to reports, Indonesia is a promising e-commerce market in Asia-Pacific, with several local and global players competing in the market. Rising Internet penetration, increasing digitalisation and the proliferation of websites have been driving e-commerce growth. The COVID-19 pandemic has further accelerated e-commerce sales in Indonesia, according to a data and analytics company.
An analysis revealed that e-commerce sales in the country were estimated to grow by 37.4% to reach IDR351.1 trillion (US$25.3bn) in 2020, compared to the pre-COVID-19 estimate of 22.2% for the same year. The figure is expected to rise at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.2% between 2020 and 2024, to reach IDR707.6 trillion (US$51.0bn) in 2024.
According to financial experts, online shopping is gradually becoming mainstream in Indonesia with more consumers preferring due to the convenience it offers. This shift became even more prevalent during the COVID-19 pandemic with strict lockdown and social distancing rules being in place.
Also, to push consumer spending during the pandemic, the government collaborated with the Indonesian E-Commerce Association and rolled out programmes for around 2,500 SMEs, providing training on utilising e-commerce platforms for increasing sales.
While traditional payment methods such as bank transfers and cash are still widely used for e-commerce purchases, the use of alternative payments is on the rise. As per reports, for online purchases, utilising online bank transfers is the most popular payment tool with a 30.7% share in 2020. The COVID-19 outbreak is driving customers towards alternative payment tools. As a result, cash share is expected to decline from 98.0% in 2020 to 96.9% in 2024.
As Indonesia continues its digital transformation, the use of electronic payments, including cards and alternative payment solutions for e-commerce purchases, will rise as consumers are moving away from cash due to fear of getting infected with the virus.
The largest property developer in Hong Kong donated HK$6 million in 2019 to the Sports Aerodynamics Science Initiative Project, jointly launched by the Hong Kong Sports Institute (HKSI) and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST).
Over the past two years, the HKSI and HKUST teams actively conducted cycling tests and resistance tests for cyclists, as well as developing low-resistance suits for the Hong Kong Cycling Team, to help enhance their performances in the Tokyo Olympics.
Various high-ranking leaders within HKUST and HKSI attended the press conference to share the updates of the Project.
The Director of Elite Training Science and Technology of the HKSI; Vice-chairman of The Cycling Association of Hong Kong, China Limited and an elite cycling athlete also attended to show their support of the Project.
The Executive Director of the property developer stated, “The initiative has been ongoing for two years, in two major directions: First, as we all know, winning or losing in a cycling race comes down to a difference of split seconds.”
He noted that, thus, one area is the research and development of equipment that reduces wind drag or improves riding posture, to enable the Hong Kong Team to shave precious seconds off record time, increasing their speed and chances of winning.
Second, to help Hong Kong become an international innovation and technology hub by integrating technology into sports and accelerating innovation in sports science.
In addition to helping the Hong Kong team, the hope is to cooperate with the National team in the future. While the Tokyo Olympics have been delayed until this July, the team’s motivation has remained unfettered over the past two years. They have been successfully developing techniques and technology that reduce wind drag in different ways.
The Dean of Engineering expressed his gratitude for the support they are receiving from the property developer in setting up the Sports Aerodynamics Science Initiative Project in 2019, in collaboration with the HKSI, allowing their state-of-the-art research to make an impact in the global arena.
The team applies technology in Formula One racing cars and aerospace engineering to improve the cyclists’ performance in competitions. The joint efforts mark a major step forward to integrate research and innovation.
It was noted that the application of sports science has become a must-do for all sports powerhouse if they want to stay at the forefront in today’s sporting world. Over the last two years, the Project has conducted a series of tests for the cycling team to fortify the elite training outcomes, thus enhancing their competitiveness in international competitions. The application of sports aerodynamics technology can also benefit sports other than cycling, the Project is kicking off cooperation with the windsurfing team recently.
The Project is a joint effort by the Director of Elite Training Science and Technology of the HKSI, Dr. Raymond So’s sports science team and Chair Professor of Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering of HKUST, Prof. Zhang Xin’s team.
Prof. Zhang said the University is happy to contribute to Hong Kong’s sporting arena with technology. Through HKUST’s cooperation with HKSI over the past two years, they have conducted various tests and development for the cycling team in terms of cycling equipment, clothing, and posture, through wind tunnel tests and numerical simulations.
The team will continue to work closely with the HKSI in the future to apply more research output in competitions and apply the technology to other sports. In addition to the research on improving the postures of cyclists through sports aerodynamics technology, the HKSI and HKUST will continue their effort to research on low resistant gears to help enhance athletes’ performance.
Ho Chi Minh City has received approval from the government to operate electric buses on regular public routes. It has been instructed to work with various ministries and other agencies to finalise economic-technical criteria for the buses and pricing.
Its People’s Committee last month sought permission from the government to operate 77 electric buses on five routes for a two-year trial period. The conglomerate Vingroup will operate electric buses with 65-70 seats during the trial period. However, in the future, the operators will be chosen through tender.
According to a news report, nine new bus stations, a depot, and 12,200 square metres worth of parking lot at Vinhome Grand Park in Thu Duc city will be built. The city will make an assessment at the end of the trial period. Public transportation currently meets only 9.2% of demand in the city, according to the Department of Transport. The city has been seeking to develop public passenger transport and earmarked VND500 trillion (US$21.6 million) for it.
Last month, a group under the Vingroup, VinFast announced the debut of Vietnam’s first electric car, called VF e34. It is a C-segment electric car. Early customers who place bookings prior to 30 June this year, can take advantage of the special pricing at VND590 million VND (US$25,496) along with a one-year free battery subscription.
Customers do not have to pay for batteries and operating costs (including costs of battery rental and charging), which are exactly equal to the cost of gasoline consumption, while the price and features are superior to gasoline cars, as per a news report.
The car has several AI-based driver-oriented features like remote software updates, remote customer support, emergency rescue services, battery tracking status, vehicle operation history, and theft alerts. It is powered by an electric motor and uses a 42-kWh battery making 110 kW power and 242 Nm torque.
The company targets around 40,000 electric car charging points in 63 provinces and cities by the end of this year. Following only three years of operations, since its inception in 2017, the company has launched three smart EV models – VF31, VF32, and VF33 and will receive orders from global markets from the end of 2021. Each of these models will come in with artificial intelligence (AI) and state-of-the-art features.
Vingroup also announced the establishment of the Green Future Fund, which aims to encourage and support initiatives to improve the living environment, towards a sustainable future. The Green Future Fund will immediately donate VND30 million (US$1,298) to customers who change from fossil fuel-based vehicles (gasoline, oil) to electric cars, thereby contributing to reducing environmental pollution through the Smart Solution’s “Car Exchange Offer” service.
Electric vehicles are classified into four groups: HEV, PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle), BEV (battery electric vehicle), and FCEV (fuel cell electric vehicle). The core parts are an electric engine, battery, and electricity storage unit. According to a report, by 2030, the global market will have more than 90 million electric cars, of which HEV and PHEV will become the major line before shifting to BEV and FCEV.
The Science Park at Thailand’s Khon Kaen University held a special event to train people in the industrial sector in “Fundamental Survey with Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Technology”. The “Fundamental Survey with Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Technology” training program was held on 2 and 3 April 2021, including both theoretical and practice sessions.
The opening ceremony was presided over by Assoc. Prof. Charnchai Panthongviriyakul, M.D., President of Khon Kaen University, who conveyed the opening address. Dr Apirachai Wongsriworaphon, Director of Khon Kaen University Science Park made a welcoming speech and reported about the objectives of the event.
Participants included personnel from the industrial sector, both governmental and private. The event was also under preventive measures against Covid-19 at the Main Building of the Northeast Science Park, Khon Kaen.
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Rawee Hanpachoen, a full-time professor of the Faculty of Architecture; an expert and researcher from the Smart City Operational Centre; Khun Pongpat Kangkong, Manager of the Smart City Operational Centre (SCOPC); and Khun Suchat Prommee, a Drone Technology expert, were the trainers of the program.
The Northeast Science Park at Khon Kaen University, as the network node for the operation of the Northeast Science Park, organized this event under the mission to develop technological competency of personnel in the industrial sector (Brain Power Skill Up) and under the Regional Future Manpower and Skills Creation Project, which answer the national innovation development plans.
The event was supported by the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research, and Innovation and was aimed at increasing skills for personnel in the industrial sector to accommodate the changes of technologies that will arise in the future.
Drone tech in Thailand
According to an earlier article, the Digital Economy Promotion Agency (Depa) plans to roll out an artificial intelligence (AI) university project and drone academy this year, as part of the agency’s plan to drive digital skills and support the digital economy.
The AI university project is meant to provide AI knowledge to learning programmes and workshops at designated universities, while the drone academy is set to help Thais learn how to use drones for their businesses, particularly in the agricultural sector.
Depa President and Chief Executive said the projects are part of the agency’s strategic cooperation plans aiming at digital economy development, which covers digital transformation, manpower skill enhancement and start-up incubation.
About 200 million baht will be used to develop the AI university project, with half the amount budgeted by Depa and the remainder by private entities through a matching fund. For the drone academy, Depa plans to set aside THB50 million to develop the project and a matching fund will earmark another THB50 million. Universities are being considered for the AI project, with Mahidol, Chulalongkorn and Thammasat the main contenders, he said.
“Drones are a new technology for Thais in terms of business use, especially big drones, which are very useful in several sectors, including agriculture and logistics,” said the Depa President. When the drone business approaches maturity, international tech companies will come and invest in this segment in Thailand, he said.