New centre for robotics and automation to join start-up hub

Hanwha Collaborative Robots aid in the movement of objects for laser engraving. Launchpad Robotics Centre houses about 800 start-ups and more than 50 business incubators from a diverse range of industries.
Hanwha Collaborative Robots aid in the movement of objects for laser engraving. Launchpad Robotics Centre houses about 800 start-ups and more than 50 business incubators from a diverse range of industries.ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

SINGAPORE - A new centre has been set up to allow start-ups in the robotics and automation sector greater access to support services, innovative technologies and communication networks.

Launchpad Robotics Centre is the first robotics centre only for start-ups, and is situated in JTC Launchpad at One-North.

The community at LaunchPad houses about 800 start-ups and more than 50 business incubators from a diverse range of industries.

Launched on Friday (March 23) by Dr Koh Poh Koon, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and National Development, the centre hopes to grow both the start-up scene and the robotics landscape in Singapore.

"Robotics has been identified as a key area to enable Singapore to leverage advances in technologies to enhance the competitiveness of our economic sectors, address challenges of an ageing population and seed new growth industries," said Dr Koh, assuring government support especially for the robotics field.

"As announced at Budget 2018, the Capability Development Grant (CDG) will be merged with the Global Company Partnership (GCP) Grant to form an integrated Enterprise Development Grant (EDG) in the fourth quarter of 2018. The new EDG will give companies more holistic support for their capability development and internationalisation needs, to increase their competitiveness locally and abroad."

The 1,600 sq ft facility offers three key features: A maker space, co-working space and a robotics display area. The maker space provides a range of equipment from plastic 3D printers to electronic components, but can also facilitate access to various off-site equipment.

The centre is a joint project developed by Action Community for Entrepreneurship (ACE), a national private sector-led organisation supported by the MTI, and ANTI, the corporate venture arm of PBA Group, a local precision engineering company.

ACE will provide business-related support and mentorship for the start-ups while PBA will provide industry-specific expertise, resources and contacts in the sector.

"This comes at an opportune time as the expected acceleration in growth of the global robotics landscape will present many opportunities for many of our start-ups here to thrive and flourish," said Mr Edmas Neo, executive director of ACE.

Start-ups can approach either ACE or PBA with their business ideas. If they pass a shortlisting process, they will be able to use the space and equipment for free.

According to Mr Derrick Yap, chief executive officer of PBA Group, about $250,000 has been put into setting up the centre.

Five start-ups are already in various developmental stages and will continue to refine their technology with the centre's help.

One such start-up is Moovaz, which has created its own technology to collaborate with PBA Group's Golden Retriever Automated Robot systems, a patent-pending technology designed to transport items for warehousing.

There are plans to shift the centre to a 260,000 sq ft facility near Jurong Innovation District. Mr Yap added that there is no cap on the number of start-ups currently, as he hopes to encourage more business starters in this industry.