Small firms to benefit from longer Headstart

Pisces Technologies chief executive A.S. Sundaram says public-private partnerships are crucial for innovation. His firm is collaborating with A*Star to develop an Automated Intelligent Vehicle, a robot that can be mounted on an autonomous vehicle and
Pisces Technologies chief executive A.S. Sundaram says public-private partnerships are crucial for innovation. His firm is collaborating with A*Star to develop an Automated Intelligent Vehicle, a robot that can be mounted on an autonomous vehicle and deployed in various industries to perform different tasks.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

For Mr A.S. Sundaram, chief executive officer of Pisces Technologies, the Government's innovation initiatives hit the sweet spot.

His firm offers companies in the precision engineering and logistics sector automation, robotics and integration solutions to make their processes more efficient.

As part of the Headstart programme, it is collaborating with the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) to develop an Automated Intelligent Vehicle - a robot that can be mounted on an autonomous vehicle and deployed in various industries to perform different tasks. The project costs about $1 million and is still being tested. The company plans to bring the product to market by the year end.

Yesterday, it got a boost in the form of a stronger competitive advantage. Small and medium-sized enterprises that partner A*Star to co-develop intellectual property had been able to enjoy royalty-free and exclusive licences for 18 months. This licence will now be extended to three years.

This is excellent news for Mr Sundaram, who quit his job last year to set up his five-man company.

 

"The period of 18 months is too short for many companies, as it is too short to have a market competitive advantage. To extend it to 36 months would give the company a better chance of establishing a market, so that if a second company does approach A*Star, the technology will be more outdated," he said.

He noted that public-private partnerships are crucial for innovation, as A*Star is ahead of the curve in research in Singapore.

While most private companies develop research and technology in response to market demand, A*Star "grows with the global trend", and thus can do more diverse and deep research, he said.

Lee Xin En

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 21, 2017, with the headline 'Small firms to benefit from longer Headstart'. Print Edition | Subscribe