The Asian Development Bank (ADB), headquartered in Manila, recently approved the establishment of ADB Ventures, according to a recent press release.
The ADB Ventures is a new venture platform, which will support and invest in start-ups offering impact technology solutions that contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Asia and the Pacific.
According to ADB Director General for Private Sector Operations Mr Mike Barrow, the region is brimming with technology solutions to conserve energy, reduce waste, fight climate change, and deliver public services effectively.
The platform will help bring these solutions to market by levering on the Bank’s extensive operational networks and filling the risk capital cap being faced by innovative early-stage companies in developing Asia and the Pacific, especially smaller and frontier markets.
About the initiative
ADB Ventures Investment Fund 1 is the facility’s anchor trust fund.
It has a target size of US$ 50 million and is accepting contributions from multiple funding sources including bilateral and multilateral development partners.
It will mainly invest in early-stage start-ups and focus on companies with solutions that can address climate change and empower women.
The fund has a 17-year fund life, allowing the Bank to invest patient capital into cleantech, fintech, agricultural technology, and health technology solutions.
The Nordic Development Fund, Climate Investment Funds, and the Government of Australia funded project preparation for the ADB Ventures facility.
ADB Ventures Investment Fund 1 is expected to begin operations in the second quarter of 2020.
One of its main aims will be to mobilise private capital through co-investing with private sector investors.
The vision is for ADB Ventures to become the region’s largest impact technology platform, crowding in more than US$ 1 billion of risk capital to achieve the SDGs by 2030.
Technical assistance program
Unlike traditional venture capital funds, it is augmented by a three-year, US$ 12 million technical assistance program that will support impact technology start-ups through two main activities.
The first is ADB Ventures SEED, which is a grant program to validate and de-risk technology pilots and promote expansion into emerging markets that start-up companies might otherwise not prioritise.
The second is ADB Venture Lab, which is a suite of corporate innovation programs implemented in partnership with industry and leading accelerators for start-ups.
ADB Ventures will leverage on the Bank’s operational networks and industry expertise to generate technology pilot opportunities and support ADB Ventures Investment Fund 1 portfolio companies.
Initiatives across the globe
Funding is important if start-ups were to bring their great plans and ideas to fruition. OpenGov had previously reported on firms backing up tech start-ups that exhibit strong potential.
In 2018, a leading Singapore-based venture capital firm announced the opening of its Kuala Lumpur office and planned to invest an additional RM75 million (US$18 million) to help back Malaysian based start-ups.
The firm believed that Malaysia has the right combination of talent, diversity and potential to grow more tech high-value start-ups.
According to the company, Malaysia has strong fundamentals in place to sustainably grow its already-vigorous start-up scene, as it possesses the region’s highest rate of initial public offerings (IPOs) as well as high digital penetration.
Meanwhile, leading Thai corporations and investors had plans of marching to Silicon Valley in 2018 through a US-based deep tech venture dedicated to start-ups in order to empower Thailand’s economy.
The company mainly invests in series A funding, worth over TBH32.6 million (US$1 million) per deal, and aims for returns within 7-10 years, mostly in capital gains at a rate of 3-5 times.
Interesting start-ups need to have breakthrough technologies, scalability and an eye for larger markets overseas, according to the deep tech venture’s managing partner.
The Makati City government is urging its residents, investors, workers, students, and visitors to download the Makatizen app to gain instant access to emergency hotlines and report crimes promptly to the authorities.
According to a press release, the app, available on Android and IOS, was created to bring information and public services, including emergency assistance and response, closer to the people who live, work, do business, or spend their leisure time in the country’s premier financial centre.
It aims to empower Makatizens to use their mobile phones to keep up with the latest developments at City Hall and to actively participate in the governance of the city. More importantly, it enables them to promptly contact the proper authorities during emergencies that require urgent government assistance and intervention.
The Makatizen app is one of the country’s technology-driven innovations focusing on mobility, resilience, and sustainability. It was presented by the mayor at the Smart City Expo World Congress held last month in Barcelona, Spain. Makati, the sole Philippine finalist in the 2019 World Smart Cities Awards, earned a top spot in the Innovative Idea category.
Since the app’s launch in 2017, the city’s central command centre at City Hall has recorded a significant increase in incident reports from 150 to 400 incidents per day, subsequently improving response time to emergencies.
As OpenGov reported earlier, local government units (LGUs) have been called up to embrace the switch to digital technologies to vastly improve their delivery of frontline services and generate more revenues under the New Economy in the post-pandemic era.
Last month, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III urged local executives start working with the national government in preparing for the seamless transfer of the additional devolved functions, services, and facilities that they would have to assume (beginning from 2022) with the implementation of the Supreme Court (SC) ruling on the far higher revenue allotment (IRA) share of LGUs.
Under the high court’s Mandanas doctrine, the IRA share of LGUs should come from all national taxes, as mandated under the 1991 Local Government Code, and not from just the taxes collected by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) within the respective jurisdictions of LGUs.
This expanded revenue coverage means the IRA share of LGUs should also include other taxes such as those collected by the Bureau of Customs (BOC). This sizable IRA increase for LGUs will let them pump-prime their respective local economies in the New Economy.
Technologies adopted should include the processing of business registrations and the collection of local taxes. Investments in information technology will not only make for more responsive governance but will also improve the revenue generation of LGUs.
The national economy, after all, is the sum of all local economies. LGUs are at the frontline of serving vulnerable communities; they are also catalysts for building a new economy while the nation does what it can to address the global health emergency.
A tech incubatee under the Hong Kong Smart Government Innovation Lab recently announced that it has launched a new solution which is now ready to be acquired by companies and institutions.
The robot was designed with a self-navigation ability in a 100,000 sqft indoor area and has an open SDK for building any additional functions. Third-party hardware – including sensors, sanitizers, UV lamp, RFID readers and various IoT products – can be added to the robot to provide mobile functions to devices/apparatus that would not be able to move usually.
The solution was designed to be applied across several areas including City Management, Commerce and Industry, Development, Finance, Health, Housing, Recreation and Culture, Social Welfare as well as Transport.
The solution employs the latest in Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), Mobile Technologies, Natural Language Processing and Robotic Process Automation.
The robot can connect to BMS of various buildings to get the alert, warnings, and other notification and directly send alarming signals physically to a residence. It can guide users to their destination, with which functionality can help buildings to offload their concierge services.
The solution can also locate its position and correlated the position information to the corresponding BIM system inside the building. Infra-red, thermal or other sensors can be added for water leakage detection.
AI image diagnosis can be done through the 13-megapixel camera for various detections, such as intrusion, falling of elderly or prohibited objects (suitcase/baby stroller on an escalator). Indoor air quality (IAQ) sensors can be added to build a heat map of readings throughout the building.
Moreover, sanitizing devices can be added to the robot, and when it moves around, enabling the device to be effective in multiple locations on the entire floor.
Robots in high demand
According to a recent report, the automated guided vehicles market is expected to reach US$4.6 billion by 2027 witnessing market growth at a rate of 13.47% in the forecast period of 2020 to 2027.
Market research by another firm showed that the global smart cleaning and hygiene market was valued at US$2.63 billion in 2019, and it is expected to reach USD 5.91 billion by 2025, registering a CAGR of 15.7% from 2019 through 2025.
The increasing demand for domestic consumer robots and growing investment in R&D of personal service robots for assistance in various household applications are some of the major factors driving the growth of the smart home cleaning and hygiene market over the forecast period, the report noted.
About the Smart Government Innovation Lab
In 2018, the Government established the Smart Government Innovation Lab to explore hi-tech products such as AI and relevant technologies, including machine learning, big data analytics, cognitive systems and intelligent agent, as well as blockchain and robotics from firms, especially local start-ups.
The Lab is always on the lookout for innovation and technology (I&T) solutions that are conducive to enhancing public services or their operational effectiveness. I&T suppliers are encouraged to regularly visit the Lab’s website to check on the current business and operational needs in public service delivery and propose innovative solutions or product suggestions to address them.
The virtual court for traffic and the e-Challan (official receipt) projects, which were launched earlier this month, will replace current manual challans with electronically-generated digital ones.
The e-Challan initiative was created by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH), and the software was developed by the National Informatics Centre (NIC). The virtual court is a project under the e-Committee of the Supreme Court and the Department of Justice. It is an online court managed by a virtual Judge, which is not a person but an algorithm, whose jurisdiction can be extended to the entire state and will work round-the-clock.
According to a press release, in a virtual court trial, neither a litigant nor a Judge will have to be physically present in the court for a case. Communication will only be electronic, and the sentencing and payment of the fine or compensation will also be online. Only a single process is allowed. It may be proactive admission of guilt by the accused or proactive compliance of the cause by the defendant on receipt of the summons in electronic form.
Citizens will not have to wait in lines in courts to pay fines or interact face-to-face with the traffic police. The government hopes it will increase the productivity of citizens as well as judicial officers and promote greater accountability and less corruption in the Traffic Police Department.
Currently, the country has nine functioning virtual courts- two courts in Delhi, Haryana (Faridabad), Maharashtra (Pune), Madras, Karnataka (Bengaluru), Maharashtra (Nagpur), Kerala (Kochi), and Assam (Gauhati). Over 3 million cases have been handled by seven virtual courts.
OpenGov Asia reported earlier on a similar project – India’s e-invoice initiative. It is expected to revolutionise the way businesses interact with each other. The e-invoice system, a game-changer for the GST system, was launched in October for businesses with an aggregated turnover of more than IN 5 billion (approximately US$ 67 million) in a financial year.
The government claims it is another milestone in India’s efforts to enhance ease-of-doing-business in the country. The data captured by the invoice registration portal (IRN) will flow seamlessly to the GSTR1 return of the tax-payer on the GST Common Portal, reducing the compliance burden.
Over 49.5 million e-invoices have been generated on the NIC portal by 27,400 tax-payers within the first month of the introduction of the e-Invoice system. Further, an additional 64 million e-way bills were generated during October. Starting with 8.4 million e-invoices after it was launched, the usage gradually picked up. The last day of October saw a generation of as many as 3.5 million e-invoices in a single day. It recorded the generation of 64.1 million e-way bills during October.
Considering the needs of smaller tax-payers, who need to prepare 5-10 B2B invoices in a day, NIC is in the process of developing an offline Excel-based IRN preparation and IRN printing tool. This will allow the group to enter invoice details, prepare files to upload on the NIC IRN portal, download the IRN with QR code, and print the e-invoice with a QR code.
The Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) and the Construction Industry Council (CIC) co-hosted SciTech Challenge 2020 on 19 November 2020 to allow promising innovators to develop market-ready solutions to cater to industry demands, and propel the construction sector into the digital era.
Node THL, an incubatee of HKSTP, was crowned champion of the Open Group for the active noise cancelling sensory technology at a construction site while HeightSecure Technologies won at the Student Group for the sensor to detect micro-vibrations of bamboo scaffolding in the competition.
Under the theme of “Sensory Technology for Construction”, SciTech Challenge 2020 brought together start-ups and students with potential users in the construction sector the first time to pitch their products and solutions. In view of accelerating digital transformation in various industries, the construction sector recognises the need to modernise operations to raise efficiency, productivity, quality and safety.
The CEO of HKSTP stated that the Park is committed to unearthing the best innovation and technology talent to propel Hong Kong’s business and society forward with their innovations. SciTech Challenge 2020 has provided prominent young entrepreneurs with the ideal platform to learn and collaborate with construction leaders, develop their ideas into ready-to-deploy solutions and support the industry for wider technology adoption in the future.
The Chairman of CIC said that one of the most important missions of CIC is to drive Hong Kong’s construction industry to embrace innovative thinking and culture, after establishing Construction innovation and Technology Application Centre (CITAC), CIC continues to accelerate the adoption of innovative technologies by different approaches, SciTech Challenge provides a great opportunity to inspire the construction participants for Construction digitalization.
The Chairperson of CITAC Board pointed out in the ceremony that Sensory technology is often considered as the first step for digitalising the physical environment, which forms the foundation for other technology development such as robotics as well as smart cities. That is the very reason why sensory technology for construction was chosen to be the theme of SciTech Challenge 2020.
This year’s competition attracted over 60 group applications from educational institutions and corporates. The contestants gained unique access and collaboration opportunities with leading industry players through a series of training workshops and webinars.
After rounds of screening, the eight finalists were selected to present their innovative ideas at the final presentation on 19 November 2020. This final challenge tested the level of enthusiasm and commitment of the contestants, as they competed for cash prizes and the chance to enjoy fast track to HKSTP’s Science and Technology Entrepreneur Programme (STEP) and win membership of Robotics Catalysing Centre.
More recently, “The 1st Greater Bay Area 5G Application and Innovation Challenge 2020” (AIC 2020) was jointly organised by Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP), The Greater Bay Area (GBA) 5G Industry Alliance (The Alliance), Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute (ASTRI) and a leading Chinese telecom concluded with an award ceremony at Hong Kong Science Park on 20 November 2020.
Centred on the theme of “Unleash the power of 5G – Build a Better Life”, AIC 2020 attracted 55 participating teams from Hong Kong, Macao and Guangdong. These teams including students, start-ups and innovators were encouraged to harness the power of 5G and offer innovative solutions in seven areas, to nurture talent and driving industry adoption for Smart City development in the GBA region.
The seven targeted areas are education, entertainment, finance, property management, logistics and transportation, healthcare, and industrial manufacturing.
The National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) on Friday launched a mobile application that can identify and block scam messages and phone calls.
The National Crime Prevention Council’s Year-End Crime Prevention Campaign was held virtually on 20 November 2020 whereby the NCPC unveiled the new mobile application – ScamShield. ScamShield compares an incoming call against a list maintained by the Singapore Police Force to determine if the number has been used for illegal purposes and blocks it.
The app uses artificial intelligence to identify keywords in messages from unknown contacts, these messages will be moved into a junk folder created on your phone by the app, just like what email inboxes do.
ScamShield has been jointly developed with the National Crime Prevention Council and Government Technology Agency, is available only on iOS devices and can be downloaded from Apple’s App Store for free.
The app blocks calls from a database of blocked numbers, managed centrally by the National Crime Prevention Council and Singapore Police Force (SPF). Users can report scam messages and calls through the app, which will be added to the database and shared with the police. The council added that ScamShield does not have access to the user’s contact list, location or personal data. The app does not require users to register with their mobile numbers either.
Mr Desmond Tan, Minister of State for Home Affairs, was a special guest at the virtual event on Friday and said that the number of scam cases has been on the rise and asked people to be vigilant when giving personal information to anyone.
ScamShield is easy to deploy in 3 simple steps and has many security features.
Download from App Store
Search for Scamshield on the App Store or click on this link. Do not download applications that are not from the official Apple Store.
Block known scam callers
ScamShield compares an incoming call against a list maintained by the Singapore Police Force to determine if the number has been used for illegal purposes and blocks it.
- Open Settings
- Tap Phone
- Tap Call Blocking & Identification
- Enable Scamshield
Filter Scam SMSes
When you receive an SMS from an unknown contact, ScamShield will determine if the SMS is a scam using an on-device algorithm, and filter the messages to a junk SMS folder. Scam SMSes will be sent to NCPC and SPF for collation. This keeps the app updated and will help protect others from such scam calls and messages. To Enable auto spam SMS filter:
- Open Settings
- Tap Messages
- Tap Unknown & Spam
- Enable Scamshield
Report Scam Messages
You can also report scam messages from other chat apps such as WhatsApp, Wechat, IMO, Viber, etc. You can forward the messages via ScamShield’s in-app reporting function. The Council have also said that the app will be available soon for Android users once some issues have been resolved.
Photo Credit: www.scamshield.sg
A “magic” spray for turning objects into agile millirobots to deliver drugs precisely inside a living body has been developed in joint research led by a scientist from City University of Hong Kong (CityU).
This pioneering approach to creating millirobots hinges on the M-spray, a composited glue-like magnetic spray. A magnetic force can move an object around different surfaces after it has been sprayed with the M-spray. This technology has great potential for biomedical applications, including catheter navigation and precise drug delivery.
The research team is led by Dr Shen Yajing, Associate Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) at CityU, and is supported by the National Science Foundation of China and the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong.
The research findings have been published in Science Robotics titled “An agglutinate magnetic spray transforms inanimate objects into millirobots for biomedical applications”.
Composed of polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), gluten and iron particles, M-spray can adhere to the surfaces of one (1D), two (2D) or three-dimensional (3D) objects instantly, steadily and firmly. The film formed on the surface is about 0.1mm to 0.25mm thick, which is thin enough to preserve the original size, form and structure of the objects. The magnetic coating is biocompatible and can be disintegrated into powder when needed.
The team’s M-spray can stick on the targeted object and ‘activate’ the object when driven by a magnetic field, explained Dr Shen. Under the control of a magnetic field, the millirobots can change between different locomotion modes, such as crawling, flipping, walking, and rolling, on surfaces such as glass, skin, wood and sand.
What makes this approach special is the team can reprogramme the millirobot’s locomotion mode on demand.
A PhD student in BME and the co-first author on this paper explained that by fully wetting the solidified M-spray coating to make it stick like glue and then by applying a strong magnetic field, the distribution and alignment direction of the magnetic particles of the M-spray coating can be changed.
This reprogrammable actuation feature is helpful for navigation towards targets. The team demonstrated that the M-spray coated catheter can perform sharp or smooth turns. The impact of blood/liquid flow on the motion ability and stability of the M-spray coated catheter was limited, too, the results showed.
Task-based reprogramming offers promising potential for catheter manipulation in complex areas such as the oesophagus, blood vessels and urethra where navigation is always required.
Another important feature of this technology is that the M-spray coating can be disintegrated into powder on-demand with the manipulation of a magnetic field. All the raw materials of M-spray, namely PVA, gluten and iron particles, are biocompatible. The disintegrated coating can be absorbed or excreted by the human body.
In an in vivo test with rabbits for drug delivery, the team has demonstrated that the M-spray- enabled millirobot can reach the targeted region in the stomach precisely. Researchers disintegrated the coating by applying an oscillating magnetic field.
The controllable disintegration property of M-spray enables the drug to be released in a targeted location rather than scattering in the organ. The hope is that this construction strategy can contribute to the development and application of millirobots in different fields such as active transportation, moveable sensors and devices, particularly for tasks in limited areas of space.
Dr Shen and Dr Wu Xinyu from the Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology (SIAT) in the Chinese Academy of Sciences are the corresponding authors of the paper. The other co-authors are Dr Shang Wanfeng from SIAT, and Dr Lu Haojian, Dr Liu Yanting, Yang Liu and Tan Rong, new graduates and PhD students from Dr Shen’s team.
The Infocomm Media Development Authority and IBM signed a Memorandum of Intent on Friday, where IBM will hire and train 300 Singaporean professionals over the next four years in emerging tech areas. The signing of the Memorandum of Intent was witnessed by Minister for Communications and Information, Mr S Iswaran.
They will be trained under the TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA) Company-Led Training programme and the TeSA Mid-Career Advance programme, for roles such as Digital Consultants, Big Data Engineers, Data Scientists, Cloud Architects, UX Designers and Full Stack Digital Developers.
Future-Ready Intelligent Digital Workforce Programme
The “Future-Ready Intelligent Digital Workforce Programme” aims to meet the demand for technology consulting and deep technical skills needed to support the acceleration of digital transformation across all industries.
The programme will bring a diversity of talent with relevant skills and knowledge base, and provide them with opportunities to deepen their digital skills, technical expertise and hands-on practical experience.
240 Singaporean professionals will be under the TeSA Company-Led Training programme, and an additional 60 Singaporean mid-career professionals will join under the TeSA Mid-Career Advance programme. These participants will range from fresh graduates to professionals in the later stages of their careers.
“As we push forward with our national digitalisation movement, the ICT sector continues to hold promise for job creation. It remains important to provide opportunities for our professionals to build the necessary skills for tech jobs that power the sector. IMDA’s and DISG’s collaboration with IBM, to help 300 Singaporeans acquire advanced tech skills, is part of our investment in a pipeline of local tech talent as we make a decisive push for digital transformation in our country so that Singaporeans can continue to do well,” said IMDA Assistant Chief Executive and EDB Executive Vice President, Kiren Kumar. “I urge more companies to join our national effort to create jobs and training opportunities for all Singaporeans.”
Digital Transformation and Post COVID
The Programme emphasises continual learning and participants will be expected to keep up-to-date with their skills development through a variety of activities – such as self-paced online learning modules or instructor-led workshops – and qualify for specific certifications depending on their roles.
Programme participants will undergo intense, immersive exposure to emerging technologies such as AI, Advanced Analytics, Blockchain, Cloud, Cyber Security and IoT, and will be given opportunities to build technical skills through hands-on training. New hires will be assigned to work with crossfunctional local, regional, and global teams in a variety of projects, to gain practical experience.
There will be a focus on industry transformation, business reinvention, and delivering tangible business outcomes quickly, especially in an environment of uncertainty and charting the “new normal” post-COVID.
“The global pandemic has forced businesses to speed up their digital transformation – in many cases, completing in weeks what may have in the past taken months or even years. To accelerate that transformation even more and help companies in Singapore take full advantage of exponential technologies such as AI, Blockchain, Cloud and Cyber Security, IBM Services will continue to collaborate and co-create with our clients to go beyond “random acts of digital,” said Hui Li Lee, Managing Partner, GBS ASEAN, IBM Services.
“IBM is delighted to partner with IMDA and DISG to fulfil our clients’ demand for deep digital and technical skills and also to support Singapore’s nation-building efforts to uplift the overall local talent pool. Singapore as the headquarter of IBM ASEAN, IBM Services is well placed to be the Advanced Digital Talent and Future Skills Competency hub to support IBM clients in Singapore and the region,” added Hui Li.