New centre to help tech start-ups bring products to market faster

PlanetSpark senior engineer Zhou Xiang, 32, debugging hardware in a test lab at PlanetSpark Innovation Centre's launch yesterday.
PlanetSpark senior engineer Zhou Xiang, 32, debugging hardware in a test lab at PlanetSpark Innovation Centre's launch yesterday.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Singapore technology start-ups looking to deploy their artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things products and solutions can do so much faster with help from the new PlanetSpark Innovation Centre.

Launched in Changi Business Park yesterday, the centre is an accelerator that aims to help these companies develop a proof of concept of their offerings within six months, instead of taking possibly two to three years.

After that, the centre will try to help the companies commercialise their products in the next six months and introduce the firms to customers and other players in the industry.

The centre, which occupies 10,000 sq ft of office space staffed by 10 employees, is getting a $5 million initial investment by PlanetSpark, the entrepreneurial and investment arm of Singapore electronics component distributor Excelpoint Technology.

Enterprise Singapore and Excelpoint are behind the $5 million investment by PlanetSpark.

The PlanetSpark centre is expected to help more than 30 local start-ups in the next three years.

One of the first to benefit is AI tech firm Seventh Sense, which is developing a product involving a body-worn camera linked to an AI module carried by security personnel. The firm is working on this with hardware partners such as Excelpoint and PlanetSpark.

The AI module can process videos captured and generate alerts for both the wearer and a central monitoring location, when suspects are detected. This cuts the need to send video feeds elsewhere to be processed, which can cost 10 times more.

The centre will have a panel of mentors from the private and public sectors to share expertise and experience with the start-ups, and can also establish partnerships with venture capital firms to provide funding to help grow start-ups with high potential.

Ms Phuay Li Ying, managing director of PlanetSpark, said many Singapore hardware start-ups face challenges in accessing technologies from industry leaders, gaining market knowledge and finding channels to enter the regional market. "The PlanetSpark Innovation Centre hopes to bridge this gap by innovating, incubating and inspiring," she said.

Kenny Chee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 13, 2021, with the headline 'New centre to help tech start-ups bring products to market faster'. Print Edition | Subscribe