Corporates, start-ups to join hands in challenge to innovate supply chain, business continuity solutions

Thirteen corporations and organisations will work with start-ups to come up with digital solutions. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

SINGAPORE - Strengthening supply chains and ensuring business continuity are at the heart of a national challenge that will see 13 corporations and organisations work with start-ups to come up with digital solutions to the two issues brought into focus amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Enterprise Singapore's (ESG) Trade and Connectivity Challenge (TCC) was launched on Wednesday (July 22) to find solutions to boost supply chain traceability by standardising processes and system integration, provide live data tracking on asset management, and automate manual procedures.

For instance, Singapore Post is seeking to improve mail security using track and trace technologies.

SingPost is one of the 13 organisations, which range from mid-sized and large local businesses to multinational corporations and trade associations and chambers (TACs), participating in the challenge.

Start-ups and companies will work on 28 challenge statements focusing primarily on solutions that leverage big data analytics, automation, sustainability and post-Covid-19 efforts. The challenge statements are divided into two tracks - industry-specific and enterprise-level issues.

The industry track, which is new to this year's challenge, invites corporates and TACs to explore solutions that have the potential to be scaled for sector-wide applications.

Three challenge statements under the industry track are championed by the Container Depot and Logistics Association Singapore, ground-handling firm Sats and supply chain player YCH Group, and form part of the National Innovation Challenges.

Each of these challenges will receive up to $2 million in grant support, and the NICs also offer commercial opportunities for solution providers.

For the 25 other challenges under the enterprise track, shortlisted start-ups will be able to trial and assess the effectiveness of solutions through paid test trials with the corporates and organisations.

Among the challenges is one from local car rental company Lumens Auto, which is looking for technology-enabled solutions to reduce accident rates among drivers.

Lumens Auto chief operating officer Chiam Soon Chian, noting that it is the company's first time participating in an open innovation initiative, said that it hopes to find technologies and solutions that not only improve the firm's services, but also have potential to be exported regionally.

The prize pool for the enterprise track has been doubled to $100,000, with the winning start-up receiving $30,000 and a fast-track to start-up competition Slingshot 2020.

ESG chairman Peter Ong said: "Against the backdrop of a global downturn, start-ups and their innovative solutions will play an important role in helping corporates tackle challenges, adapt and explore growth opportunities amidst an otherwise dismal demand outlook."

By partnering corporates and TACs, start-ups could potentially be exposed to more opportunities to test-bed the effectiveness of the solutions they have developed and build up a stronger track record. At the same time, corporates could also learn from start-ups and develop new capabilities and solutions, he added.

The call for entries under the enterprise track closes on Sept 15, while industry track submissions close on Oct 1.

Interested parties can submit their applications on the Trade and Connectivity Challenge website.

In last year's inaugural challenge, six corporates put out problem statements covering themes such as blockchain and artificial intelligence, drawing submissions from around 50 local and overseas start-ups and companies.

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