Companies recognised for innovations in fight against Covid-19

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth and Second Minister for Law Edwin Tong delivering his opening speech at the IP Week @ SG 2020 on Aug 25, 2020. PHOTO: INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OFFICE OF SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE - After the Covid-19 pandemic struck earlier this year, local cleaning solutions company Spic & Span reformulated its disinfectant solution Speco to be effective against coronaviruses. The product is now being used in more than one million sq ft of property in Singapore, including at Changi Airport.

Meanwhile, Singapore-based Lucence Diagnostics, which specialises in quick and accurate blood tests to detect cancer, used its expertise to develop a Covid-19 saliva sampling kit with the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star).

Both companies were among the seven recipients of the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (Ipos) Innovation for Humanity Award on Tuesday (Aug 25). They were lauded by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth and Second Minister for Law Edwin Tong in his opening speech for this year's IP Week @ SG.

"These recipients have demonstrated great resilience in transforming their businesses with IP (intellectual property), for both enterprise growth and social impact," said Mr Tong, who delivered his speech via a live video feed.

For example, Spic & Span was able to expand its market presence quickly and confidently with the reformulated disinfectant because of a robust IP strategy developed even before the crisis.

Mr Tong noted that it is crucial for companies to manage and harness IP to survive and flourish during the Covid-19 pandemic, when many have had to relook their strategies.

Lucence Diagnostics and Spic & Span are successful examples of companies that have done so, he added. Products developed by other award recipients include a mass screening swab booth, a reusable N95-grade face mask, and a thermal scanner which measures body temperature.

Lucence Diagnostics licensed the technology for its saliva sampling kit from A*Star and tapped its know-how to quickly bring the product to market.

The kit allows for saliva in the back of the nose and throat to be collected and transported at room temperature during Covid-19 testing, instead of in a refrigerated environment.

This means tests can be done at more places, expanding the reach of healthcare. The kit is currently undergoing evaluation in Singapore and is commercially available in Hong Kong.

"Today, Covid-19 testing through swabbing is painful and invasive, and saliva testing solves many of these challenges," said Lucence Diagnostics chief executive Tan Min-Han.

"(The award) is a recognition of the many days and nights of hard work that the team has put together to be able to deliver an invention that more effectively diagnoses and detects Covid-19 in the community."

Mr Tong also announced various initiatives aimed at helping more enterprises capture opportunities through IP.

These include an enhanced scheme that accelerates the registration process for trade marks and registered designs. SG IP Fast, which previously only covered patents, applies to inventions across all technology fields.

The Government will also partner various sectors to provide companies with industry-specific resources and tools to better manage their IP, such as through a new webinar series beginning with the arts and entertainment sectors this week.

"There is an ongoing whole-of-government effort... to further develop Singapore's capabilities in IP management," Mr Tong said.

"These are challenging and unusual times... (but) Singapore is committed to maintaining its robust and forward-looking IP regime."

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