Start-Up Companies: Incubation @ SUTD-MIT International Design Centre
In line with IDC’s strategic focus on the Grand Challenges, the Centre has already built up an impressive track record in fostering entrepreneurial start-ups. There is no better indicator in using design to address key societal issues than our growing success in supporting the commercialization of IDC’s research outcomes. Eight spin-off companies have so far emerged from the SUTD-MIT IDC incubation initiatives. These companies are as follows:
coUrbanize was co-founded by David Quinn, PhD, graduate of the School of Architecture and Planning at MIT, with the advisory support of Prof John E. Fernandez.
coUrbanize is a civic engagement platform for urban development projects. Residents use coUrbanize to learn about real estate and planning projects and share their input. Real estate developers, project planners and municipalities list projects on coUrbanize to share information and gather broader resident feedback to supplement the in-person meeting process.
At coUrbanize, the primary goal is to make project information accessible and help residents to more easily participate in the development process so that everyone’s voice can be heard. This goal evolved out of work supported by the MIT-SUTD collaboration as part of Prof. Fernandez’ study of South-East Asian cities, including Singapore.
The company’s founding team met at MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning and was part of the TechStars Boston Spring 2013 class. coUrbanize is now headquartered in Cambridge, MA. For more information, please see http://www.courbanize.com/.
Over 90% of engineers consider a “maximum system size” when considering the use of their workstation or computational cluster. Akselos provides solutions that fundamentally alter the limitations of scale in the design of complex systems, using cutting edge algorithms and technology developed at MIT & the US Department of Defense. The work proceeds through industrial scale HPC clusters that can scale to any system size required using Reduced Basis simulations of fully meshed components, and taking into account the modeling of relevant system behavior in detail. This results in the elimination of truncated simulations that are often accomplished with piece-by-piece disaggregated analysis of limited sections of a system. SUTD-MIT IDC funded the research work headed by Prof. Anthony Patera of MIT that led to the founding of the company Akselos S.A. based in Lausanne, Switzerland and Boston, Massachusetts. This company has recently incorporated. IDC funding was critical in completing the development of the simulation platforms required for launching the company. For more information see http://www.akselos.com/index.html.
The Akselos software has also had an important curricular value at MIT and beyond. Reduced Basis simulations of the Akselos software is now integrated into an edX/MITx subject; 2.01x. This project, a collaboration between Dr Simona Socrate of MIT (2.01x instructor-in-charge) and Tom Leurent and his Akselos team, is very innovative, and strongly couples research and education.
Embodied Sensing, Inc.
Many times we are caught in a situation where we are unable to hear what’s happening around us. One could be a homemaker cooking in the kitchen, unable to hear the little one crying in the bedroom; or a music buff, indulging in one’s favourite music on headphones, yet unaware of someone knocking at the door. Enter StickEar, a personalized sound awareness assistant which can be attached to any surface and helps to overcome challenges and inconveniences faced by the loss of hearing.
Mr. Yeo Kian Peen, who worked on this project under the supervision of Asst. Professor Suranga Nanayakkara, founded a start-up company, Embodied Sensing Inc., which offers a range of services, including networked noise level monitoring systems, sound classification systems and embedded hardware design. For more information on StickEar, see http://stickear.com and on Embodied Sensing Inc., see http://embodiedsensing.com.
EdgeBotix is a start-up company incorporated in Singapore and dedicated to designing and delivering, at a low cost, the world’s first robust 3D printed educational robots called eBots. eBots provide an effective platform for students to learn on. Its simple physical interface design makes it robust and extremely easy to use compared to other educational robots. Its modular platform allows eBots to be easily integrated with various software packages, all the while meeting specific performance. The platform makes it easy to rapidly create prototypes as it supports many sensors and software packages. This results in a shorter time-to-market and gives EdgeBotix an advantage over its competitors.
EdgeBotix was spun out of IDC-supported research projects at SUTD, and will partner with 3D printing companies, design software companies as well as institutions to provide a complete, versatile educational robotics solution. This ranges from fully assembled robots to various robot kits, all of which will be completely supported with content libraries and educational material. The current directors of EdgeBotix are Harsh Bhatt and Abhishek Gupta. The board of directors include Prof. Erik Wilhelm and Prof. Shaohui Foong.
Halogram Asia Pte Ltd
The SUTD Multi-Rotor Society (MRS) is a unique ‘organization’ in SUTD. It is a registered 5th row student club that promotes aviation and design and fabrication of customized aerial crafts. They also represent SUTD in various competitions. It engages in research and development through IDC and UROP where unconventional aerial crafts are designed and tested. Some of these crafts include variable pitch multi-rotor crafts that can fly upside down, a nature-inspired single-rotor aerial craft (Mono-copter) and more recently a ruggedized craft that is capable of maritime and aerial operations. Due to the expertise accumulated from aerial craft flying and development, the SUTD MRS also engages in aerial videography and photography, which is a highly specialized and technical area. SUTD MRS has a long list of both SUTD and external engagements for aerial filming services. This includes various SUTD events to ad hoc requests by various external parties, including the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) which has partnered with SUTD MRS to catalogue and document the Marina Bay Area (http://www.marina-bay.sg/SUTD_Aerial_Videos.html). As a result of this commercial interest, a group of highly passionate students have registered a company in Singapore “HALOGRAM ASIA PTE LTD” (Application N411976R) http://www.halogram.asia/ & https://www.facebook.com/halogramfilms.
Ring Theory, LLC
Ring Theory was formed as an LLC (Delaware) in Dec 2013 and as a private limited (Singapore) in Feb 2014. Representing a SUTD student based effort, with mentoring from a MIT IDC RA graduate student, the group concluded a successful crowd funding campaign (March 2014). The company has since been working on the following:
- Developing a 2nd generation NFC wearable device (not launched yet)
- Engaging a contract manufacturer in SG to scale the production
- Launching a web store
- Retailing the Sesame Ring in stores around Cambridge and Boston
- Partnering with metro systems and organizations to adopt/develop the wearable device for fare payment, ticketing and access control
SKY Optimum Technology Pte. Ltd.
SKY Optimum Technology Pte. Ltd. (SOpT) is a new Singapore-based company which provides IT services and solutions. A Hong Kong-based partnership company, Palm Capital Asia Partners Limited (PCAP), invested S$500,000 in its first year of startup. The spin-off company is currently located at SUTD with a SUTD undergraduate working on a research project that will be a significant component in a future product. As SOpT works mainly on Computational Interior Design products, it provides multi-disciplinary opportunities for student internships.
SOpT exclusively focuses on providing software solutions and services that solve daily optimization problems or replace design thinking. SOpT has already teamed with an Indian team for joint development of the very first product that is related to automatic computer generated Interior Design.
Lecturers in IT institutes are dedicated to teaching programming but have to spend tremendous amount of time in course development, assignment marking and other administrative processes, most of which are time consuming and do not add value. Started in early 2015, Proqod aspires to make coding education much more efficient and effective.
To date with a crew of four makers, Proqod has turned from zero to half a million dollars valuation in just a few months’ time. Proqod is in the process of developing an education Software-as-a-Service with two institutional clients on-board, ready for live tests in late 2015.
Dr. Kristin Wood, Professor and Pillar Head of Engineering & Product Development (EPD) Pillar, and Dr. Aditya Mathur, Professor and Pillar Head of Information Systems Technology and Design (ISTD) Pillar at the Singapore University of Technology and Design are co-advisors for Proqod.
Proqod also received investment and mentorship from angel investor Mr Matthias Yao who sits on the board of directors of HDB and the listed company iFAST Group. Mr Yao formerly served in various political offices including Senior Minister of State at the Prime Minister’s Office, Mayor of the South East District of Singapore, and Deputy Speaker of Parliament.
FOM Innovations is a mobility solutions provider, as a company we design and develop last mile transportation solutions.
Freedom is our company’s flagship product and It is portable, compact, foldable in 1 second, low learning curve and stable at high speeds. Freedom’s unique (IVOA) Inverted V One Arm folding mechanism is currently in the process of applying for a patent that allows the vehicle to be fully folded within a second.
Souschef focuses on developing automated kitchen solutions for F&B outlets addressing the 3 main concerns in Singapore to:
- Reduce manpower
- Achieve consistent taste
- Optimize inventory management
- Reduce wastage through portion control
Souschef is the world’s first automatic recipe based ingredient dispenser with a smart and functional top. It ensures you have all the tools to achieve perfection in the taste of your cooking every time, for any occasion.
The high-quality wood surface offers home chefs a stylish top for all their chopping and dicing needs. Also on-board is an integrated weighing scale with 4-point force sensors for weighting large raw ingredients like meat, and beneath, it has an array of actuators-equipped ingredient jars and containers that will dispense ingredients systematically as per the recipe you are working on.
WOK: Automatic Cooking Device
Wok by Souschef is an automated cooking device which can cook a complete meal on its own! It can store and dispense dry ingredients such as salt and pepper and liquids such as water and oil. There is also a refrigerated unit that can keep cut vegetables and meat fresh for up to 3 days. Based on the recipe chosen, the needed ingredients are selected and mixed sequentially by the stirrer to be cooked in the wok.
OJO provides an innovative, affordable, watch-sized digital braille reader for the blind.
Current braille systems cost thousands of dollars and are the size of a lunch box; OJO’s braille reader is one tenth the price and small.
OJO is partnering with Perkins School for the Blind and the National Braille Press to reach first blind U.S. adults and plans to expand to serve over 286 million worldwide, a number growing at 500K per year.
Muddy Charles Coaster Company
The Muddy Charles Coaster Company handcrafts premium kitchen and bar accessories based on the Danish philosophy of ‘Hygge’ (pronounced hue-gah) – living a healthy, cozy life with simple and warm things in good atmosphere. The functional art is composed of multiple layers of sustainably-sourced native hardwood that are individually hand-dyed, rubbed, and finished to produce dramatic 3D topographic effects.
Hue is a human behavior lab. We rigorously study people, experiment with emerging technology and predict the future. Using our predictions for the future, we help companies imagine new ways of operating–to protect them from disruption.