Fruits Vending, ImmunoScape and SkyLab Networks bag Emerging Enterprise awards

SIX young enterprises were recognised for their business innovation, resilience and excellence at the Emerging Enterprise Award 2020 on Wednesday.

Fruits Vending (a smart vending machine manufacturer and operator, ImmunoScape (a biotech startup specialising in immunotherapy), and SkyLab Networks (a data logistic solutions provider) each won the Emerging Enterprise Award for demonstrating an enterprising mindset and displaying potential for significant and sustainable growth.

Robot developer Weston Robot received the Best Innovation Award, presented to businesses that seek creative solutions to persistent problems, innovate to carve out new markets for themselves or embrace technology to transform their businesses.

Food and packaging waste-focused social enterprise TreeDots Enterprise won the Most Promising Startup Award, which recognises emerging enterprises with a strong startup spirit and which have developed a unique and commercially viable idea with potential to be sustained in the long run.

Food-recycling firm Lam Tak received the Sustainability Award, introduced in the 2019 edition of the awards. It recognises emerging enterprises that serve the underserved and create greater good for the community, environment and society.

All the winners will receive support in capability development from Enterprise Singapore.

The awards, jointly organised by The Business Times and OCBC, are in their 13th year. Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing was the guest of honour at the awards event, which was held virtually for the first time.

In his speech, he noted the difficult circumstances that Singapore is in because of the pandemic, and the need to use public resources to help businesses and workers adapt. The Emerging Enterprise finalists demonstrate Singapore's "can-do" spirit and ability to respond nimbly to challenges, he said.

"In their spirit of enterprise, they are always searching out new opportunities - even amid the pandemic - to develop new business ideas and models, build new capabilities, and leverage innovation and new digital tools," he said. "When thrown lemons, we make lemonade."

The government will create the most conducive environment it can for business growth, he said, but also urged businesses to work together to keep Singapore competitive.

"Whatever we can do, others can emulate and try to do even better. Hence, be it government or businesses, we must continue to work closely together to stay ahead of the competition."

Wong Wei Kong, editor of The Business Times, noted that the Emerging Enterprise Awards was started in 2008 during the Global Financial Crisis, making it no stranger to crises like the one that has overshadowed 2020.

"It is encouraging to see that even in the current pandemic situation, there are still promising, innovative enterprises marking out growth paths for themselves," he said.

Linus Goh, head of global commercial banking at OCBC, said that while it is difficult to tell if the worst is over, he sees "green shoots in various industries and regions", such as in the area of sustainability development.

"A sustainability strategy is necessary to 'future-proof' businesses and address changing stakeholder expectations, but at the same time, also opens up new opportunities to gain competitive advantages, which many are beginning to capitalise on."

The awards are supported by RSM, MasterCard, Singtel, ACORN, Rajah & Tann Legal Basix, Wavemaker and Enterprise Singapore.