Firms recognised for being innovative in Covid-19 fight

One reformulated its disinfectant solution while another produced a saliva sampling kit

A photo taken on June 23, 2020, at Changi Airport Terminal 3. Spic & Span's reformulated disinfectant solution Speco is used across more than 1 million sq ft of property, including at Changi Airport. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

When 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 across more than 1 million sq ft of property, 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, together with the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star).

Spic & Span and Lucence Diagnostics were among seven recipients of the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (Ipos) Innovation for Humanity Award yesterday.

They were lauded by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth and Second Minister for Law Edwin Tong in his opening speech at 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 pandemic, when many have had to relook their strategies.

The two firms 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. The kit is currently undergoing evaluation in Singapore and is commercially available in Hong Kong.

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

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 trademarks and registered designs. SG IP Fast, which previously covered only patents, applies to inventions across all technology fields.

The Government will also partner with 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.

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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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 26, 2020, with the headline Firms recognised for being innovative in Covid-19 fight. Subscribe