Robot hospital bed among National Research Foundation grant winners

(From left) National University of Singapore (NUS) Department of Surgery head Lee Chuen Neng, NUS directors of medical engineering research and commercialisation initiative Melvin Loh and Rachel Hong, NUS Department of Biomedical Engineering Yu Haoyo
(From left) National University of Singapore (NUS) Department of Surgery head Lee Chuen Neng, NUS directors of medical engineering research and commercialisation initiative Melvin Loh and Rachel Hong, NUS Department of Biomedical Engineering Yu Haoyong, and Hope Technik programme director Ng Kiang Loong with the grant-winning robot. -- PHOTO: NUS

SINGAPORE - A robotic hospital bed that can turn and park in tight spots is among the latest crop of research projects to get grants of up to $250,000.

Normally, two people are needed to move a patient in a hospital bed, but the robot could cut that down to one and help hospitals save on manpower.

The project, led by Assistant Professor Yu Haoyong at the National University of Singapore, received a $250,000 proof-of-concept grant from the National Research Foundation. So far, the robot has been tested with the National University Hospital and the technology is currently licensed to engineering firm Hope Technik.

The grants are to help researchers at institute of higher learning here further develop and start to commercialise their ideas. Awardees are given a year to do so.

Besides the robotic bed, other projects that received grants included one on ultra-lightweight insulating materials called aerogels, and a 3D camera that can be fitted to microscopes to capture nanometre-scale images at intervals of just milliseconds.

The projects were reviewed by 22 panelists, and 13 of 21 finalist projects received grants.

Dr Steve Myint of the medical device technology and pharmaceuticals and biotechnology panel, said: "These consumer-centric projects are part of an important trend that is overlooked in my experience elsewhere in the world where funding is researcher-centric. They will help Singapore gain a world leading place in impactful research in this area."

The NRF's 12th proof-of-concept grant call is currently open and will close on August 22.