Emage Vision, Spark Systems, Xjera Labs win start-up awards

Winners of the Emerging Enterprise Award (from left) Mr Wong Joo Seng, co-founder and CEO of Spark System, Mr Jeremy Heng and Mr Ethan Chu, two of the three co-founders of Xjera Lab and Mr Charles Cher, Chairman of Emage Vision at the awards night on Oct 3, 2019. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

SINGAPORE - They may be young companies, but they are pushing the envelope in their respective industries - and making money from it too.

For their efforts, Emage Vision, whose machines can replace human inspection; Spark Systems, a low-latency forex trading platform; and Xjera Labs, a video analytics start-up, won the Emerging Enterprise Award on Thursday (Oct 3).

The trio received prizes worth about $315,000 each, comprising consultancy services, business debit card credits, travel packages and a $200,000 interest-free business overdraft facility from OCBC Bank.

The awards - jointly organised by The Business Times and OCBC, and now in their 12th year - celebrate promising young businesses with annual sales turnover of up to $20 million which are outstanding in their respective fields.

This year's gala dinner and award ceremony at the Raffles Hotel was graced by Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and Education Chee Hong Tat.

In his speech, Mr Chee lauded the finalists, particularly food tech start-up Alchemy Foodtech and portable renewable power provider Third Wave Power, for their interesting and innovative offerings. But he also encouraged businesses to work together, extolling the benefits of pooling strengths and lowering individual risk.

In a global market faced with true competition from larger and better equipped companies elsewhere, "we have to think of how to enlarge the pie", he added.

Meanwhile, the Government will continue to foster a pro-business environment where innovation can flourish and entrepreneurs can focus on growing their business, Mr Chee said, such as by streamlining regulations and processes.

Together with Tria, a maker of eco-friendly foodware, Xjera Labs also took the Best Innovation Award, which recognises firms with a strong culture of innovation.

Both received prizes worth about $110,000 each, consisting of information and communication technology business solutions, legal and advisory services and a $50,000 interest-free business overdraft facility from OCBC.

Aquaculture Centre of Excellence, an aquaculture company that combines precision aquaculture engineering with state-of-art post-harvest processing was presented the Most Promising Start-up Award.

The award recognises emerging enterprises with a strong start-up spirit, particularly those that have developed a unique and commercially viable idea.

In a first, the judges gave Third Wave Power a special Sustainability Award this year, for their efforts on the sustainability front.

The 15 finalists were shortlisted from a field of more than 500 applicants.

Mr Wong Wei Kong, editor of The Business Times, said he hopes that with these awards, emerging enterprises can feel "more empowered to break boundaries and achieve greater growth".

"Likewise, the awards will provide these young businesses with resources to help them mature and thrive in this challenging economic environment," he said.

Ms Christie Chu, head of emerging business and commercial banking cash, global commercial banking at OCBC, said: "This year's Emerging Enterprise Award winners continue a trend that we've been seeing for some time now: technology is at the heart of what they do."

Beyond leveraging technology, sustainability is also being increasingly valued, she said. "Many of this year's finalists believe, and have shown that they can do well by doing good."

In a first, the judges gave Third Wave Power a special Sustainability Award this year, for its efforts on the sustainability front.

The awards are supported by Acorn Marketing & Research Consultants, Enterprise Singapore, MasterCard, Rajah & Tann Legal Basix, RSM Singapore, Singtel and Wavemaker Singapore.

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