Celebrate with us on 26 April, World IP Day!

Innovation and intellectual property (IP) play an important role in enabling us to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and build a better, more sustainable future for all.

Together with our partners, we have put together a series of stories, from both industry and community, to showcase how innovation and IP has enabled our efforts towards the SDGs.




“IP can not only be a catalyst for growth for countries, but also a way to harness the power of innovation and creativity to help us achieve the SDGs and build a fairer, better and more sustainable world.

Daren Tang, 
Director-General at World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)







Innovation Highlights





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Creative Connections for a Cleaner Community

Stridy

Each year, about 33% of global waste is improperly disposed of, or littered. This causes environmental degradation through pollution, and is detrimental to human health as well. Numerous efforts have been made to combat and clean up litter, but can these contributions be consolidated, effectively coordinated, and tracked to measure their impact and progress?

Enter Stridy. Founded in 2020, Stridy, an innovative non-profit organisation headquartered in Singapore has collected over 640,000 trash items, weighing close to 17,000 kgs, covering almost 50,000 km in distance cleaned across 80 countries.

Their secret? A proprietary Stridy App, which was locally designed to empower every individual to understand, quantify, and visualise their waste management contributions on a global scale. The Stridy App’s global impact dashboard allows users to see how their individual or group efforts are contributing to making communities around the world cleaner, in real time. Through this innovative use of technology, the app enables users to better able to understand their own progress at scale, witness the growing impact of a like-minded community, connect easily, and inspire one another to continue. Over 8,000 Striders around the world have registered on the mobile app, and the community looks set to continue growing.




Cleaning up litter can seem daunting and never-ending, so why not innovate and leverage tech for greater efficiency and impact? That’s why the Stridy app was developed to equip every individual with knowledge of their contributions, enable connections, and catalyse collective impact to create cleaner cities and communities.

Yasser Amin

Chief Stridy Officer



Beyond individual efforts, the Stridy app includes key capabilities that enable users to create litter-picking teams that fellow app users and members of the public can join, helping to streamline community efforts. Continually innovating, Stridy is also looking to grow the app’s capabilities to enable users to communicate and reach out to participants through the app for more efficient, personalised connections.

Driven by passion and creativity, the Stridy team has created a novel and effective solution to help combat the global issue of improper waste disposal. With trade mark protection in place, Stridy is also well-placed to extend its vision and continue growing its suite of innovative solutions to create sustainable cities and living environments, while bonding communities and the people within them.

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Innovations on Singapore's HDB Rooftops

Yuhua Agritech Solar (YAS) Living Lab



Beyond the innovations in hydroponics, solar panels, and green house technology, the most exciting part of our YAS lab is witnessing how the simultaneous application of all three technologies boosts our ability to produce more crops, better crops, with enhanced resource utilisation.

Professor Ang Hak Seng,

Chairman of YAS Living Lab, and Professor of Social Entrepreneurship (SUSS)



Can leafy greens and fish be grown with renewable energy on a HDB carpark rooftop? The Yuhua Agritech Solar (YAS) Living Lab located at the rooftop carpark of Block 354 Jurong East Avenue 1 is home to all of that, and is among Singapore's first rooftop projects that link renewable energy and urban farming.

The creative way of optimising space, sunlight, and humidity to generate new food sources on a rooftop is a testament to how innovation can help Singapore achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Launched in November 2023 and funded by the SG Eco Fund, the YAS Living Lab is a site for research institutes, companies and heartlanders to try out different farming techniques and crop varieties on a three-year basis.

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Amongst the eight innovations selected for test-bedding at YAS Living Lab is one by Project Shine, which is run by Otolith Enrichment – an education company for aquaculture, agriculture, and environmental science – and its partners. Project Shine is growing muskmelons using solar energy and rearing freshwater prawns with the help of black soldier flies in managing waste. The flies feed on food waste and used coffee grounds from the Yuhua community, composting the waste into suitable fertiliser for the muskmelons, and in turn the fly larvae are also used to feed the prawns, forming a self-sustaining set-up.

Another innovation is run by the National University of Singapore and the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore (SERIS) with agritech partners, where solar panels rotate like a window flap to capture the maximum amount of sunlight, while leafy greens such as lettuce and chye sim are grown in either tiered shelves or in vertical towers. These towers are then linked to a tilapia tank to form an aquaponic system.

All the innovative projects on the rooftop are constantly being iterated for greater efficiency and effectiveness. The aim is to nurture more such innovations to utilise Singapore’s urban spaces creatively and effectively for better, more sustainable solutions.



Making e-Waste SCARCE

NTU Singapore-CEA Alliance for Research in Circular Economy (SCARCE)



“Electronic waste materials may not be often talked about or easily understood as the technological solutions are highly complex, but these innovations go a long way towards ensuring that the tech we use every day is cleaner, and more sustainable.”

Professor Jean-Christophe Gabriel, Co-Director SCARCE Joint CEA-NTU Laboratory




As technological innovations rapidly increase around the world, so does the resulting electronic waste. The growth trajectory for the e-waste management market has been estimated to rise from $57.8 billion in 2022 to reach $244.6 billion by 20321.

Amongst these electronic waste materials are waste printed circuit boards (WPCBs) which are considered the most valuable component as many elements, such as precious and critical metals as well as rare earth elements are contained in electronic components such as memory and integrated circuits chips, capacitors, transistors, etc. The presence of these metals in WPCBs is at higher concentration than in typical ores extracted from mines, but in a much more complex and variable mixture. Therein lies the challenge. Despite their value, conventional recycling methods like pyrometallurgy result in a significant loss of these valuable metals, as they end up in the ashes. On average, WPCBs account for approximately 8% of the weight of electronic waste materials collected from small appliances.

Beyond the precious metals currently recovered, such as silver, platinum, gold, and other critical materials (e.g. cobalt, antimony, neodymium, tantalum) should also be recovered as resources and the heavy metals (e.g. copper, iron, tin, lead, chromium) must be adequately dealt with to prevent public health and environmental concerns.

With Singapore being one of the most digitalised countries in the region, it was imperative for Singapore to innovate and find a solution to recycle e-waste. Traditional metal recovery methods for PCB are challenging due to the complex mixture of the many metals present within the PCB components. Hence, to maximise profit margin, industries could only selectively recover valuable metals such as gold and copper.






[Left] The sorting tool depicted here enables the automatic sorting of electronic components from waste-printed circuit boards. The feeder brings electronic components through the tool on a conveyor belt, where cameras and a multi-energy X-ray generator sort the components by their metallic composition.

[Right] A prototype of the sorting tool used to present the team's technology. The photo depicts the optical recognition of an electronic component enabled by an artificial intelligence programme.



In the SCARCE project (Phase 1), the team developed a prototype tool to automatically sort various individual electronic components (ECs) from WPCBs into similar EC types or group EC with similar metallic compositions. Such sorting would enable the recovery of many more metals as compared to those recycled from conventional recycling methods. This change in processes to concentrate the recovered metal will also greatly simplify and enhance the recovery efficiency. This novel approach helps in reducing the downstream treatment cost and provides a cost-effective solution to recover previously discarded critical metals such as rare earth metals (neodymium, dysprosium, etc.), refractory metals (niobium, molybdenum or tantalum) or other valuable/critical/toxic elements (e.g. manganese, led, antimony).

In Phase 2 of this research, the team will focus on testing and scaling up the innovation for industrial and real-life applications. It will also evaluate the economic viability and establish partnerships with potential industry collaborators for commercialisation.​



Next-Generation Sustainable Seafood

Universal Aquaculture



“We are just as passionate about innovation and IP as we are about food sustainability, because they are key to making our seafood farming resilient, environmentally sound, and sustainable, for any part of the world.”

Jeremy Ong, CEO, Universal Aquaculture



Established in 2020, Universal Aquaculture (UniAqua) is a Singapore start-up founded by a team of aquaculture enthusiasts with a mission to build the global food systems of tomorrow. The start-up employs environmentally sound and sustainable food production methods to bring seafood such as vannamei shrimps to our table and bolster Singapore’s food security.

Under its Se-Ebi brand, UniAqua breeds vannamei shrimps using high-density indoor vertical farming systems with low carbon footprint. Its proprietary Hybrid Biological Re-circulating System (HBRS) and cutting-edge Operating System provide a fully controlled environment for the staged growth and harvesting of aquaculture species in vertically stacked “pods”. By employing self-sustaining, cost-effective, and eco-friendly technologies, UniAqua produces quality Se-Ebi Shrimps (and other produce) that are healthy and chemical- and pesticide-free, at competitive prices.

As part of its R&D and expansion plans, UniAqua was identifying potential partners to co-develop its systems and set up operations overseas. Together with IPOS International, UniAqua was able to develop a robust IP strategy to protect and manage its innovations and IP in these joint ventures. Till today, UniAqua acknowledges the importance of IP in securing its competitive edge and driving the growth of their dream to build the food systems of tomorrow – for the world.



Revolutionising Reusables

Muuse



“We believe innovation and technology are critical in helping us hit our sustainability goals. Through our smart platform, grown and nurtured in Singapore, we are rethinking the way that we use packaging to cut down waste to landfill and provide a more sustainable future.”

Jonathan Tostevin, CEO, Muuse



Have you ever wondered about the impact of your choice to bring a reusable container for lunch? Almost 10,000 single-use containers were saved from use at Our Tampines Hub Hawker Centre in 2023 from an innovative pilot project started by Muuse. The project enabled patrons of the hawker centre to borrow reusable packaging directly from participating stalls, or from a booth when buying takeaway. Without additional takeaway fees, patrons were free to use the container at any eatery of their choice and return the packaging for professional cleaning.

Supported by SG Eco Fund, the team at Muuse creatively leveraged technology to facilitate upscaling the project. By tagging each reusable with a unique QR code and developing a proprietary mobile application, the Muuse solution was able to track an individual participant’s environmental impact and bring them exclusive Muuse discounts. With trade mark protection in place, Muuse is also well-placed to widen its influence and innovative solutions to achieve better sustainability.


Muuse believes in promoting the habit of reusing, leading to lower demand and production for single-use plastics. In the long term, this translates to lower overall emissions and energy usage. By promoting the use of reusables, Muuse aims to drive the #ReuseRevolution, and collectively avoid hundreds of packaging waste from entering our environment or being incinerated.

Muuse is also innovating in a variety of initiatives from Hong Kong to Canada and hopes to grow further to make an even greater positive change for our global environment.



Sustainable Campus, Research, and Talent Development

Singapore Institute of Technology



“The decisions we make today shape our future. That is why sustainability is at the forefront of SIT’s decision-making, where we leverage the innovative application of technology towards a better, more sustainable future for all.”

Singapore Institute of Technology



The Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) is taking steps to integrate innovation and sustainability into its operations, campus, research and development efforts, as well as curriculum to equip students to create a more sustainable future.


Sustainable Campus



An artist's impression of SIT Punggol Campus.

SIT’s Punggol Campus, slated to open in the second half of 2024, has incorporated sustainability into its design and development.  Its water management framework and infrastructure aims to capture rainwater from about 40% of the land for non-potable usage, saving about 86,000 cubic metres annually, enough to fill 34 Olympic-size swimming pools.  It received the Active Beautiful Clean (ABC) Waters Certified (Gold) Award in 2022 for this innovation.

Punggol Campus will also be home to Southeast Asia’s first Multi-Energy Microgrid (MEMG), a collaborative research venture between SIT and SP Group. The MEMG can integrate electricity from the national grid, renewable sources and energy storage in a unified smart energy network. Approximately 10,000 square metres of photovoltaic (PV) solar panels installed on the campus buildings’ rooftops will provide more than 2,000 MWh of electricity annually, and save energy equivalent to the electricity consumed by 1,000 four-room flats annually.

In addition, SIT takes active steps to reduce use of electricity, water, single-use disposables, and recycles the food waste from its foodcourts.  It also aims to promote a culture of sustainability and create a conducive learning and working environment by ensuring the health, safety and well-being of students and staff.



Sustainability Research & Innovation

SIT actively encourages a sustainability approach to the University’s applied research and innovation endeavours. An example is SIT’s collaboration with industry partners to create the Passive Displacement Ventilation (PDV) system. This innovative cooling system utilises natural convection instead of powered fans to cool large spaces. The PDV system reduces resource wastage while enhancing cooling efficiency. 




The Multi-Purpose Hall (MPH) at the SIT Punggol Campus adopts a Passive Displacement Ventilation model for efficient cooling and uses shading devices on windows extensively to achieve high solar heat reduction.

SIT has also established FoodPlant, Singapore’s first shared facility for small-batch food production, to support innovation in the food manufacturing industry. The facility offers industry partners affordable access to various equipment and industrial expertise, incentivising and promoting efforts in sustainable food production.

With these technological integrations and advancements, SIT makes continual efforts to protect and manage intellectual property and innovation generated by the University and its research partnerships.




Companies have access to specialised equipment at FoodPlant. (SIT Photo: Keng Photography/Tan Eng Keng)



Sustainability Talent Development



Students of SIT’s Sustainable Built Environment degree programme at the HVAC Lab at SIT@Dover. (SIT Photo: Andrew A.)

To create a sustainability-oriented workforce, SIT is also embedding sustainability content across various education programmes. Undergraduate students in SIT and joint degree programmes are required to take a micro-module on key sustainability concepts, while certain university-wide modules allow students to apply critical sustainability perspectives to real-life projects.

Undergraduates are also given the opportunity to delve deeper and pursue a minor in Environmental Sustainability, while working professionals may choose from a suite of courses for a holistic view of the various aspects of sustainability in the corporate world.




Sci. Dpl. Glenn S. Banaguas, renowned scientist, diplomat, and one of the leading experts on environment, climate change, and disaster risks in Asia, shares his experience on sustainability with students reading the Minor in Environmental Sustainability. (Photo: Yeap Lay Huay)

As SIT continues to impact both its local and wider environment, its academic offerings, applied research and innovation efforts aim to ensure students are well-equipped to build a more sustainable future for Singapore and beyond.

Read more about SIT’s sustainability initiatives: https://www.singaporetech.edu.sg/sustainability.

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Transforming How the World is Powered

Xnergy

Founded in 2018, Xnergy designs, develops, and manufactures high-power wireless charging solutions for electrified mobility. Their proprietary technologies drive critical sustainable advancements, from the electrification of everything to fully autonomous robots.

The company’s flagship solution boasts an impressive power output of 3000W, rapidly charging a 100Ah capacity battery from 0% to 100% in just one hour – equivalent to simultaneously charging approximately 200 smartphones. The solution was also designed with scalability in mind, capable of reaching an impressive 9000W output for even more demanding applications.

As a start-up, it was important for Xnergy to capitalise on growth opportunities and strategically prioritise key assets and IP that contribute to this trajectory. Working with IPOS International, they conducted an intangible asset (IA) and IP audit, which laid the groundwork for a robust IP strategy, setting them up for success.



“As pioneers in high-power wireless charging solutions, our robust IP is essential for business success. A strategic approach to IP is pivotal in managing and safeguarding our core assets, propelling global growth, and fostering ongoing innovation.”

Hu Xiaolei, CTO and Co-Founder, Xnergy Autonomous Power Technologies



Today, Xnergy has deployed over 1800 modules in more than 20 countries, across regions like Southeast Asia, China, and Europe. Their commitment to innovation and global expansion is fortified by a clear and effective IP strategy, enabling them to manage core IP assets and safeguard their competitive edge.



Smart Sampling for Enhanced Disease Monitoring

Deep Autosampler Live Monitoring System (DALMS) by Nm3 Tech and the National Environment Agency

Wastewater, often overlooked, contains information valuable for monitoring the transmission of infectious diseases. NEA’s novel wastewater-based surveillance strategy demonstrated its effectiveness in studying disease trends and supported Singapore’s response to successive waves of transmission during the COVID-19 pandemic.

DALMS, co-developed by Nm3 Tech and NEA, enables the collection of wastewater samples from manholes with depths greater than 20 metres, surpassing the 8-metre reach of existing commercial systems. This is particularly important for Singapore's extensive sewage networks.



“In a densely populated city like Singapore, environmental monitoring plays a crucial role in strengthening public health efforts. The Deep Autosampler Live Monitoring System (DALMS), designed to sample wastewater from depths exceeding 20 meters, played a key role in monitoring the spread of disease for informing national COVID-19 response. Ongoing innovations in wastewater surveillance will help Singapore better monitor infectious disease trends and build a more resilient city against bio-threats.”

Dr Mark, Lei Lei, Director, Nm3 Tech (S) Pte Ltd & Dr Martin Tay, Senior Scientist, Environmental Health Institute, National Environment Agency



DALMS utilises innovatively designed pneumatic pumps to drive wastewater into an automated sampling system. This system enhances sampling safety by replacing traditional electrical pumps, which may pose explosion risks in manholes due to potential presence of flammable gaseous by-products from the sewage. It also allows more comprehensive wastewater surveillance by enabling sampling in previously inaccessible depths. Additionally, DALMS provides online notifications of failed sample collections, allowing corrective actions to be taken promptly to minimise wastewater surveillance disruptions. Notifications are made possible by a proprietary software that compiles, processes, and distributes data via mobile accessible platforms and online infrastructure for managing numerous wastewater samplers concurrently.

Singapore currently has an island-wide network of more than 500 wastewater samplers, including DALMS units from Nm3 Tech, among others. Beyond COVID-19, ongoing innovations in wastewater surveillance will help prepare Singapore to better monitor infectious disease trends, enabling a more resilient city against bio-threats.  

The partnership between NEA and Nm3 Tech brought together various intangible assets, including engineering and microbiology know-how, fueling the innovation behind DALMS. The collaboration will in turn fuel more innovation and IP as use cases of wastewater sampling and surveillance are shared in the public domain, encouraging knowledge exchange with scientific and public health communities. 

Actions on the ground

Here’s an example of the wastewater collection process:

1. Checks are conducted to ensure that the area is suitable for deployment.
2. The sampler is then set up beside the manhole, its tubing lowered and pumped into the manhole.

3. The manhole cover is then replaced with a customised cover that seals the manhole while still allowing access for sampler tubing to the sewage network.

4. The sampler is programmed to collect samples at specified volumes and intervals.

5. The sampler, comprising a control unit, a 24-bottle multiform base, connected to a battery pack and deep manhole pump controller system, is put together and placed in a weather-proof housing.

6. Samples of interest are collected and transferred to bottles which will be brought to the laboratory for testing. The sampler is decontaminated and ready for the next round of sampling.
Images courtesy of Nm3 Tech and NEA.

 




Stay tuned for more!