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Building a smart nation: Early Stage

Written by Zhixin Tan Published on   3 mins read

These startups were at Singapore’s Smart Nation Innovations Week.

The Smart Nation Innovations Week that was held in Singapore at the end of June featured a series of events that saw more than 15,000 local and international guests share and learn how technology could be used to build a smart nation—one of Singapore’s top priorities in a bid to keep the city-state relevant in the digital age.

“Many countries and cities have similar ambitions to become smart nations or smart cities. The concepts and ideas vary. For us, being a smart nation is not about flaunting glitzy technology, but it is about applying technology to solve real problems that will make a difference to people’s lives, and across the whole of society,” said Singapore’s prime minister Lee Hsien Loong in a speech at the close of the event.

With that in mind, this week’s “Early Stage” looks at several startups that attended Innovfest Unbound, the anchor event of the Smart Nation Innovations Week, and how they contribute to Singapore’s smart nation initiative.

Singapore is a hub for entrepôt trade. It is the world’s leading maritime capital, with 130,000 ships passing through every year. In this role, how can the city-state ensure these passing vessels return? The Barell has an innovative way to do so—ease bunkering, which is the process of refueling a ship. It can take up 80% of the ship’s operational cost. The Barell is an on-demand refueling platform for shipowners and licensed suppliers in the port. The app and platform allow shipowners to reduce time spent idling in port by connecting them with available bunkering providers, thereby improving their experience at Singapore’s port.

Co-founded by a group of individuals from established firms such as Paypal, Luno, Bank of America, and Instamojo who believe in using blockchain to detect and prevent criminal activity and financial crime, Merkle Science is a deep-tech startup based out of Singapore. As a company that monitors risk, Merkle Science analyzes blockchain data and provides banks, regulators, crypto-exchanges, investment funds, and blockchain companies with due diligence to discover and block the illegal use of cryptocurrencies—in line with Singapore’s favorable attitude towards blockchain and cryptocurrencies.

Another startup looking to increase Singapore’s reputation as the fintech capital of Asia is Right-Hand Cybersecurity, a SaaS platform that allows organizations to monitor and analyze their employees’ behavior to identify and mitigate human-influenced cyber risks in real-time. For example, the platform would raise flags if a disgruntled employee attempts to use his old password to delete data. Experts and lawyers agree that while Singapore leads in cybersecurity legislation, the fact that cybercrimes transcend national borders can result in legal avenues being powerless in dealing with online criminal activity. This is where Right-Hand Cybersecurity comes in as a solution for enterprises that seek an additional layer of protection.

Finally, there is Dei, a virtual marketplace that has put Singapore’s Little India online. Founded in 2016, Dei provides on-demand grocery delivery services to customers in the city-state and is reportedly looking to move into other precincts, such as Chinatown and Kampong Glam. The marketplace was recently appointed as an official agency partner by the Info-Communications Media Development Authority of Singapore, as well as Enterprise Singapore, to contribute to the country’s Smart Nation initiative.


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