Local start-ups pursue innovation opportunities here and abroad

Start-ups have been actively participating in innovation calls and pursuing opportunities both locally and abroad this year.

There have been 84 joint applications between Singapore firms and overseas partners for the Eureka GlobalStars-Singapore innovation call this year, more than double the number last year.

The innovation project call seeks to support cross-border collaboration on technology development.

It involves at least one Singapore firm and an entity from any of the 14 participating Eureka countries, which include Canada, the Netherlands and Britain.

The encouraging turnout shows that local start-ups are wanting to venture abroad and connect globally, said Enterprise Singapore chairman Peter Ong.

Collaborating with overseas partners provides Singapore firms with a better understanding of their needs and context, he added, while their partners can leverage Singapore companies' familiarity with the South-east Asia region.

"When we work together, we can actually cater to global needs," Mr Ong said.

The participants in last year's innovation call included autonomous driving solutions firm MooVita, which collaborated with Dutch company Sioux Technologies.

MooVita co-founder and director Dilip Limbu said: "Joint projects, especially international in nature, bring about many benefits."

These include culturally rich ideas and expertise that usually deliver outcomes that are much more significant than could be achieved by each firm individually, he added.

Besides the short-term benefits of having the rights to the outcome of the partnership that could result in a patent, MooVita also stands to reap other revenue upsides, Dr Limbu said.

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The newly developed business relationships with foreign partners and indirectly with their associates will serve well for MooVita's future engagements in the European market, he added.

Locally, more than 50 national innovation challenges have been issued this year, including the Trade and Connectivity Challenge, which calls for solutions to drive partnerships in sectors like logistics, trade and land mobility.

Mr Ong said: "We are sensing that a lot more start-ups are sort of getting into the groove to participate in these things, which is good because they compete with other start-ups and they get to see, 'Hey, wow, the same problem statement; they've got very interesting solutions that I didn't think of'."

He noted that this year, some corporates committed to paid trials for solutions by start-ups, which is not often the case.

"As a corporate, once you've tasted good ideas or good solutions to pressing problems that you have, why not (continue to partner with start-ups)?" he said.

"In one fell swoop, you see so many proposals, while on your own, if you indeed have a research and development team, you see one. But here, you see so many."