How do you use technology/policy to improve citizens’ lives? Tell us about your role or organisation.

SGInnovate’s mission is to work with scientist-entrepreneurs, who have the courage and capability to build deep tech products that can tackle some of the world’s most difficult challenges. We help make that happen by building research-based deep tech startups into high potential companies with global impact. We focus on transformational technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, blockchain, MedTech and robotics.

As the Head of Brand, I am focused on sharing the Singapore innovation story and deep tech capabilities locally and internationally. One of the ways to achieve this is to showcase some of the founders we are working with, feature their innovations, as well as how they are addressing important global issues. This, in turn, provides our scientist-entrepreneurs the opportunity to build awareness for their startups, an important task as they grow and scale their companies.

I am also tasked with growing the deep tech ecosystem, encouraging the interaction of some of the greatest minds in this space, and the exchange of great ideas. In the two years since our founding, it has been both humbling and fulfilling to have completed 45 investment deals, forged partnerships with more than 50 organisations, and built a deep tech talent and community network of more than 23,000 individuals.

What has been the most exciting thing that you worked on in 2018?

Without a doubt, the most exciting thing that we worked on in 2018 was the inaugural Deep Tech Summit – Southeast Asia’s first dedicated deep tech event. The Summit was remarkable because it brought together thought leaders from major innovation hubs around the world to explore how frontier technology developments can positively transform societies and economies.

The full-day event explored pertinent topics in the world of deep tech, including “AI across industries”; “blockchain beyond fintech”; “the future of work and talent development”; as well as “venture building and deep tech investments”.

The Summit was a huge success in terms of positioning Singapore as a deep tech innovation hub, as well as establishing itself as a catalyst in driving meaningful conversations around deep tech’s role in shaping the future. The positive feedback that we have gotten has encouraged us greatly and we will continue to build upon the networks and conversations created to further enhance the experience for all partners and participants for future editions.

If you were to share one piece of advice that you learned in 2018, what would it be?

Be fearless. Never be afraid to experiment. Never be afraid to fail. Never be afraid of criticism. Because valuable lessons can be uncovered, and can be applied to achieving great(er) successes!

What tool or technique particularly interests you for 2019?

While not exactly a tool or a technique, AI is clearly something that has a transformational impact on industries and economies. 2018 has been a very eventful year for AI, and I am definitely watching with keen interest how the technology develops in the coming year.

One of the prime areas which AI will have the most impact on is healthcare, a sector that faces tough challenges in both developed and developing countries. The demand for accessible and quality healthcare will continue to rise across geographies, driven primarily by a fast-ageing population. From medical imaging and patient management to robotic surgery, AI will play a key role in supporting healthcare providers so they can focus on their engagement with patients.

What are your priorities for 2019?

SGInnovate just hit the second-year mark, and the team is thrilled to see the impact that we have created thus far. Specifically, we have built Singapore’s most vibrant and active deep tech community, growing it to over 23,000 individuals in two years.

Going into 2019, we will continue to build the deep tech ecosystem and aim to drive deeper engagement with the community by experimenting with different formats and platforms. In addition, we intend to widen our connections both locally and internationally. We believe that a robust and thriving ecosystem is critical in supporting founders as they build and scale their companies.

What is one skill that has helped you the most throughout the course of your career?

Having a ‘can do’ spirit – believing that anything is possible if you try hard enough, and if you have the patience, tenacity and creativity to achieve your goals.

What advancements do you predict will happen in your field in the next ten years?

AI will continue to replace and automate many of the time-consuming manual tasks in digital advertising and marketing. And we do not need to look too far, as it is already happening today.

Personally, I do not see it as a threat of “AI replacing humans”. Think about the hours we could save on monitoring what people are saying about our brand on the internet, or constantly reviewing and updating our whitelists/blacklists to ensure brand safety when making ad buys. These tasks can be delegated to AI, freeing up our time to focus on more high-value work.

On the topic of digital advertising and marketing, one of SGInnovate’s portfolio companies, Affable, is using AI to select the right micro-influencers for brands to engage with. By matching the right people to work with as brand ambassadors, Affable is helping marketing teams safeguard the brand equity that they have worked so hard to build. Such automated algorithms use social listening to match the right influencers based on a brand’s target audience, demographics and interests, removing the manual effort and guesswork in choosing the right partners to work with.

Coffee, yoga, music… what powers you through your day?

Family. That is at the centre of my existence, and at the end of the day, the only thing that matters.