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A Life Less Analog Technology

Impact Hackathon: Why the geeks shall inherit the earth

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The COVID-19 pandemic is the asteroid that will finally make the dinosaurs extinct. And by dinosaurs I mean individuals and companies who still refuse to embrace digital. I truly believe this. Which is why I’m happy that Impact Hub Manila (IHM) is bringing back Impact Hackathon to create genuine change in society. This year’s Impact Hackathon will be held virtually on Aug. 17-21. It aims to reboot the economy through inclusive digital innovations in five verticals. These include climate change, education, food and agriculture, health and wellness, and smart cities.

Only those who are still in denial think that things will “go back to normal”. The COVID-19 pandemic is the end of the world as we know it. It is a turning point in human history that has accelerated digital transformation. So don’t listen to the dinosaurs. Don’t listen to the defenders of the status quo who want to go back to doing the same things. Instead of using this disruption as an opportunity to build a better post-pandemic world. Not just the new normal, but a better normal.

“I am very optimistic and I truly believe that technology is the great enabler. It has completely democratized a lot of things that we’re doing,” IHM Founder and CEO Ces Rondario said in response to a question from Digital Life Asia in the press briefing.

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A Life Less Analog Technology

Edusuite platform keeps schools running amid pandemic

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As I’ve previously mentioned in this column, education is very dear to my heart. That’s why I was happy to learn that Philippine startup Edusuite aims to help improve the educational system here with its artificial intelligence (AI)-powered school management system for
K-12 to college. This allows schools to focus less on administration and more on education.

Now, I’m a techno-optimist and a big believer in AI. I love Edusuite’s vision of having AI co-manage the school together with human administrators. Otherwise, as Edusuite Co-founder and President Niel Dagondon pointed out at the press briefing on July 29, you are using software but still just manually administering the school. But how challenging is it to get school officials to adopt this mindset and allow AI to co-manage?

“I have to admit that it’s not going to be a fast process. Sometimes we launch Edusuite with a school and it takes them sometimes as much as two years to enable all the features that Edusuite has. And what we did is to make it in a way that we can turn off the AI-specific features one by one. So if a school does not trust the system to do the AI at the start, they’ll be able to do the planning their way. For example, if they don’t want the student advising module to automatically advise the student, they can just turn it off and have someone on the backend manually approve each time a student would take a certain number of subjects. So it’s not going to be automatic, that as soon as they implement Edusuite, all the AI features are turned on,” Dagondon said.

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Technology

StartmeupHK Festival showcases innovation mindset

The HKFIA 2020 Forum at StartmeupHK Festival tackled how entrepreneurs should adapt to the changing world in the next decade.
The HKFIA 2020 Forum at StartmeupHK Festival tackled how entrepreneurs should adapt to the changing world in the next decade.

Hong Kong’s annual StartmeupHK Festival became a virtual event for the first time this year. Organized by Invest Hong Kong (InvestHK), StartmeupHK Festival is the startup showpiece of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR).

On the final day of the Festival, at the HKFIA 2020 Forum organized by Sina Finance, Paul Chan, Financial Secretary, the Hong Kong SAR Government, spoke about Hong Kong’s resilience while recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. He noted that despite its many challenges, Hong Kong is still faring very well and again led the world last year in funds raised through initial public offerings.

“I have no doubt that we’ll be in the running again this year, despite the turbulence out there. After all, Hong Kong has become a much sought-after place for secondary listing of Chinese companies. Just ask video game developer NetEase and e-commerce retailer JD.com, both of which listed in Hong Kong last month, following in the welcome wake of tech giant Alibaba’s secondary listing here last November,” Chan said in a press statement.

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Technology

VMware Demo Lab to help SMEs, startups innovate

The VMware Demo Lab will help SMEs and startups innovate.

Eight out of 10 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Philippines recognize the value of digital technology, according to a recent study. Many of them, however, have cited challenges due to the upfront cost of adopting new technologies. To address this problem, ICT distributor VST ECS Phils. Inc has launched the VMware Demo Lab.

The VMware Demo Lab is a testbed platform where SMEs and startups can collaborate. They will learn how they can harness cutting-edge digital technologies to strengthen business resiliency. At the same time, they will be able to accelerate their pace of innovation.

“Innovation and business continuity are core to the success of any organization in this current business environment. I would like to congratulate VST ECS on the launch of this demo lab — a powerful testbed that will help catalyze innovation for Filipino businesses at this very important moment in time as they pivot towards the future,” VMware Philippines Country Manager Walter So said in a press statement.

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Technology

Social robots: Will they make technology more human?

Imagine social robots that can see and perceive us as humans.

Imagine social robots that can see and perceive us as humans. That will not only detect our faces, but also understand what our facial expressions mean. That will remember us and instantly recognize us when they see us again.

Well, we don’t have to imagine, because social robots already exist. In fact, on June 16, I was in a webinar with a social robot. As you may know, I love robots. This robot was in my favorite city, Stockholm, which I’ve fortunately visited four times. To be fair, its human colleagues at the Swedish startup Furhat Robotics were the ones conducting the webinar. Namely, Furhat Robotics Co-founder and Senior R&D Engineer Jonas Beskow and Product Owner Nils Hagberg.

Beskow and Hagberg demonstrated in real-time the impressive visual perception of the Furhat robot. To interact socially with humans, a robot needs more than facial recognition. They gave an in-depth presentation on the algorithms that power the robot. This is how computer vision gives the Furhat robot situational awareness and social intelligence. It readily recognizes a human face and quickly understands what his or her facial expression means, and how to respond accordingly.

Will social robots help people become less afraid of robots and AI, and do you see social robots becoming an integral part of human society, I asked Beskow and Hagberg after the presentation.

“Personally, yes, I definitely do. This is why it’s very important how we design our social robots and how we design interactions with robots. I think this is the core of what Furhat Robotics is doing. That we’re trying to make these interactions as friendly and engaging and we’re trying to bring all the positive qualities of human interaction into this mix,” Beskow told Digital Life Asia.

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Technology

Disrupt VC model, says Draper Startup House exec

We need to reexamine the current VC model, according to Giulianna Crivello, Head of Ventures, International, at Draper Startup House.
We need to reexamine the current VC model and mix things up, according to Giulianna Crivello, Head of Ventures, International, at Draper Startup House.

Why should geography limit venture capital? In the current VC model, where most platforms are local or regional, startups find it difficult to raise capital from an investor outside their borders.

This is precisely why Singapore-based Draper Startup House has launched its own funding platformDraper Startup House Ventures. And why it is committed to disrupting the current VC model in order to match startups and investors from all across the globe.

“That’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to mix things up. And at the same time, a lot of our partners indicated that they were interested in investing across borders. But they didn’t have the clarity. They didn’t have the oversight. And didn’t have the expertise. So along those lines if we can help connect entrepreneurs with the capital, then I think that would be a pretty cool thing to do,” said Giulianna Crivello, Head of Ventures, International, at Draper Startup House.

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Technology

Startup ecosystem in SG gets new voice, direction

James Tan, new Chairman of the Board of Directors of Action Community for Entrepreneurship, says he is confident that the startup ecosystem in Singapore will recover.
James Tan, new Chairman of the Board of Directors of Action Community for Entrepreneurship, says he is confident that the startup ecosystem in Singapore will become stronger.

The startup ecosystem in Singapore will recover from the COVID-19 crisis and the community will emerge stronger. This is according to James Tan, who has been appointed as the new Chairman of the Board of Directors of Action Community for Entrepreneurship (ACE).

With more than 3,600 startups employing 18,000 people, more than 100 incubators, accelerators and venture builders, and 150 venture capital funds in Singapore, ACE’s scope has increased tremendously since its inception in 2003 by the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

“This is an opportune time for ACE to revalidate and expand the role it was set up for — to support the startup ecosystem in their journey to become viable business going concerns. In this difficult period for startups, ACE provided ground-up support through public webinars and private matching activities such as the COVID-19 Seminar Series and Meet-The-VC Sessions,” Tan said in a press statement.

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Gaming

Ultimate luxury gaming bag by TUMI, ONE Championship

ONE Championship and TUMI have announced a special challenge in "The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition" to design the ultimate luxury gaming bag.

Martial arts fans are very familiar with ONE Championship, which is Asia’s largest global sports media property. Some, however, might not be aware that the company is also a leader in esports through ONE Esports. Today, ONE Championship has announced that its existing commercial partnership with TUMI will include a special challenge in Season 1 of “The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition” to design and launch the ultimate luxury gaming bag.

Together with ONE Esports, TUMI’s global design team will challenge the show’s contestants. They will have to help design, market, and launch the ultimate luxury gaming bag in an episode of the series. The goal is to deliver the perfect companion for esports athletes.

“We are excited to partner with ONE Championship on ‘The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition.’ We look forward to seeing the innovative designs and out-of-the-box marketing launch plans the contestants come up with to elevate the journeys of gamers around the world,” said TUMI Creative Director Victor Sanz in a press statement.

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Technology

SG-based lawtech startup INTELLLEX raises $2.1M

Continuing its mission of modernizing knowledge-based industries, Singapore-based lawtech startup INTELLLEX has completed a US$2.1M funding round.

As professional services firms adapt to the new normal, their knowledge management platforms will also need to evolve. Continuing its mission of modernizing knowledge-based industries, Singapore-based lawtech startup INTELLLEX has announced today that it has completed a US$2.1M funding round.

Quest Ventures led this round of funding. Participating were ​Thomson Reuters,​ ​Insignia Ventures,​ ​K3 Ventures and a Singapore government-backed venture capital fund. In conjunction with the funding, Jeffrey Seah, Partner at Quest Ventures, will join the INTELLLEX board of directors.

“INTELLLEX believes underutilized knowledge is dead weight. With the INTELLLEX platform, we convert such dead weight into knowledge assets that yield multiple and repeated value for our clients. With this round of funding, we will expand our service delivery across EU and APAC and accelerate development of new product offerings,” INTELLLEX Co-founder and Co-CEO Chang Zi Qian said in a press statement.

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Technology

Funding platform launched by Draper Startup House

Draper Startup House Founder, International Vikram Bharati wants their funding platform to bring together startups and investors from all over the world.
Draper Startup House Founder, International Vikram Bharati wants their funding platform to bring together startups and investors from all over the world.

“Why can’t a startup from Indonesia raise capital from an investor in Estonia?” Vikram Bharati, Founder, International of Singapore-based Draper Startup House, aims to change this situation with the launch of their funding platform, Draper Startup House Ventures.

“Most platforms are local or regional. In our globalized world, geographic boundaries are starting to get blurred. Companies and investors are starting to go beyond their borders, searching for opportunities anywhere in the world. There are not many platforms that can help startups and investors find opportunities globally. We see an opportunity to place ourselves as a platform that can extend beyond the reach of one’s geography,” Bharati told Digital Life Asia.

Draper Startup House Ventures aims to help entrepreneurs receive better access to funding. This new funding platform provides an opportunity to submit pitch decks to the Draper Venture Network, which has 23 global funds. Moreover, it allows startups to raise capital beyond geographical borders through the funding platform’s worldwide network.