A*Star unit helps firms to harness tech for industry use

Mr Philip Lim, chief executive officer (CEO) of Exploit Technologies.
Mr Philip Lim, chief executive officer (CEO) of Exploit Technologies. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

The high-tech Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) is widely known for scientific innovation but what is lesser known is that it has a unit working with firms to get futuristic technology on to the market.

Exploit Technologies (ETPL), which was set up in 2002, helps companies adopt technologies developed at A*Star's 18 research institutes, which span areas like biomedical and physical sciences and engineering.

It works closely with A*Star and companies to understand how technologies can be harnessed to meet industry needs.

The unit also helps entrepreneurs hoping to leverage on A*Star technology to develop business plans. This involves understanding the competition and devising sales strategies, determining the market size and expected revenue streams.

ETPL also provides support in marketing, fund raising and networking.

The organisation aims to nurture A*Star scientists into business-minded technopreneurs.

ETPL's portfolio comprises more than 3,400 active patents and applications stemming from A*Star research. It has granted more than 1,000 licences - mostly to local companies - for A*Star technologies.

ACM Biolabs is one firm that has benefited from this process.

It used artificial cell membrane technology from A*Star's Institute of Materials Research and Engineering to significantly reduce the amount of time, labour and costs needed for finding new molecules that can produce pharmaceuticals.

ETPL worked with the scientists and industry figures to make the technology more market-ready. It also helped the company develop its business model, undertake financial planning and find potential customers.

ETPL chief executive Philip Lim singled out a few technologies as having "great commercial promise", including one that allows humans to control devices with their thoughts, and autonomous vehicle technologies.

Another involves matching images taken by cellphones to a database of images on a remote server.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 13, 2016, with the headline 'A*Star unit helps firms to harness tech for industry use'. Print Edition | Subscribe