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Israel's Innovation Magazine / January 2015

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This is How it’s Done in Singapore

What does an Israeli company developing real-time communication systems have in common with an Israeli company developing a treatment for obesity? Each works in cooperation with a Singaporean entity and receives support via the bi-national Singapore-Israel Industrial R&D Foundation, founded by the Israeli OCS, Ministry of Economy together with the Singapore EDB

In the near future, any citizen encountering a crime will be able to record the event and send the video directly to the police. The police, in turn, will analyze the data coming from citizens as well as the information posted on different social networks, and quickly dispatch the appropriate officials to the crime scene. This process is enabled by an innovative product that was developed by Israeli company LiveU, in cooperation with Singapore-based company.. This project and other similar such collaborations are facilitated and supported by the Singapore-Israel Industrial R&D Foundation (SIIRD). Established in 1997, SIIRD is a cooperation between the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) and the Office of the Chief Scientist (OCS) in Israel, set up to promote, facilitate and support joint industrial R&D projects between companies from Israel and Singapore that will lead to successful commercialization across the globe.

LiveU is a company engaged in portable live video acquisition, contribution and management solutions. LiveU's award-winning technology enables HD quality live video transmission from any location around the world, without the need for a satellite. "TV stations and news portals are the major customers of our flagship product," explains Noam Amram, Director of R&D Projects and Alliances at LiveU. "In fact, every news reporter receives a small transmission unit that connects to his camera. The video from the camera is transferred to the transmission unit, compressed and encoded within it, and, simultaneously transmitted, through a number of wireless channels, to the Internet and from there – to the target server. The original image is stored on the server, so you can transfer the video to the Internet, TV, or mobile phones, depending on the specific application. Thanks to error correction mechanisms and real-time balancing mechanisms, the cameraman can broadcast from anywhere, including enclosed spaces, on the go and at relatively low cost. The LiveU system can be purchased or leased, and the upcoming upgrade will include a mobile app in collaboration with Panasonic.”

Pictured: LiveU – a company engaged in HD quality live video transmission from any location around the world

“The OCS has been a full partner in the success of our venture since its inception. Our cooperation with Singapore, made possible by SIIRD, fulfills yet another vision in the field of security, which is also of great value to live video broadcast from the field. The public is usually the first to arrive at any crime scene, which is frequently followed by uploading of videos to Facebook, instead of calling the police. Our Singaporean partner has developed tools for analyzing social network communications for police needs. For example, if someone would write ‘there's a bomb in Tel Aviv’ – the police will find Twitter and Facebook links, videos and information about this report, so it can handle it before a crowd forms. LiveU and S2T from Singapore have a joint work program, as well as tasks, architecture definition, user interface, software integration and more, as we operate together. This development was made possible thanks to SIIRD support,” says Amram.

 

The Elements of Success

LiveU is just one example of the success stories resulting from fruitful cooperation between companies taking place under the support framework of SIIRD. The main goal of Ms. Shirley Refuah, Adv, Senior Manager of SIIRD on behalf of the OCS and Mr. Chan Eng Chye, the General Manager of SIIRD on behalf of EDB is to make this kind of cooperation happen. The purpose of cooperation is to promote the commercial and industrial relations between the two countries, and to support joint R&D projects between Israeli high-tech companies and Singaporean companies and research institutes.

The distinguished list of success stories includes various Israel-Singapore initiatives carried out thanks to SIIRD support, among which are Ginger – an interactive English self-study software program; cooperation on the development of an algae-based oral vaccine for the iridoviral disease of marine food fish in Asia; joint development of a cosmetic whitening cream, based on substances found in a certain type of mushrooms; development of a healing cream for treatment treating of burns caused by radiation for cancer patients; and many others.

"The foundation for success is the full cooperation of both sides," notes Refuah, "and it includes reports, transfer of information and shared decision making on a daily basis. We have been working together for ten years, and we constantly improve, modify and adapt our procedures to different variables, with respect and consideration of the interests of the two cultures. In general, it is very easy to work with our colleagues in Singapore. They speak English and they are diligent, thorough and intelligent. Their ability to analyze data and process it into practical knowledge is worthy of appreciation.”

“SIIRD provides partner search assistance to Singapore-based and Israel-based companies that are keen on R&D collaboration, as well as helps them with their initial contact and the application process,” explains Chief Scientist Avi Hasson. The financial support for joint projects comes from funding provided by both governments, with projects selected by the SIIRD Board that meets twice a year – once in Singapore and once in Israel"

. The Foundation approves projects designed to develop a product or a process, based on technological innovation, with a high probability of commercial success and the ability to access large markets. Any decision to approve or reject a project is made after a summary of opinions by the Israeli and the Singaporean sides. The decisions take various considerations into account: the technological innovation of the project, the added value of cooperation, the contribution to both companies, the ability of companies submitting the proposal to carry out the project, their ability to pay their share of the project and more.

SIIRD funds supplement the investment of the companies in the project, and finance up to 50% of the R&D approved expenses in each project. So far, 135 joint Israeli-Singaporean projects have been approved, at a total cost of over $150 million.

Pictured: Ms. Shirley Refuah, Adv, Senior Manager of SIIRD and Mr. Chan Eng Chye of EDB

 

Sixth Place in the Global Economy

“Singapore is a crown jewel of Asia," says Refuah. “Like Israel, it is also a small country without many natural resources that built itself up in a short time and has become a significant player in the world. Since the 1960s Israel has had a representative in Singapore and our bilateral relations are strong and based on similar values. The pace of economic growth in Singapore is inconceivable in western terms. Being a small and smart country that seeks to reach the technological forefront in all fields, Singapore is a great place to implement new technology, offering extensive opportunities for Israeli innovation and entrepreneurship."

The Singaporean government is systematically working to turn the country into a thriving center for Southeast Asia. According to the World Bank, Singapore has once again topped the rankings of the best places in the world to do business, and it has the second freest economy in the world. Its geographical location provides companies operating from it direct access to the world's largest markets; China, India, Japan, Indonesia and Australia are all located less than seven hours flight from Singapore.

In recent decades, Singapore has become a center for advanced technology, modernity and progress. It is characterized by high productivity and competitiveness, and has the world's leading infrastructures – airports, broadband connection in all households, transportation, banking and insurance – all the elements that make it easier for the realization of international cooperation. In addition, the Singaporean government provides financial support to multinational companies seeking to establish regional headquarters in the country, with an environment that offers high quality of life to the foreign employees and managers of these companies. To support this, there are currently ~37,000 international companies that market their products from Singapore.

Multinational corporations that have started operating in Singapore in recent years have already identified its enormous economic potential. They understand that the Singaporean economy can serve as a springboard for Asian companies, combining Western and Eastern cultures, investing in entrepreneurship and thinking long term.

"Singaporeans strive to be at the forefront of technology in the world," concludes Refuah. "Thanks to investment in R&D, governmental stability, economic planning of a decade ahead, economic reliance on manufacturing and services, and presence of electronics, engineering, biomedical and medical factories, Singapore is a country worth investing in. The areas in which the Singaporean government aims to position itself in the forefront of technology in the coming years are: environment, green energy, digital media, biotechnology and medical services."

 

We have the Knowledge, they have the Patents

One outstanding example of cooperation with a Singaporean entity in the field of medical equipment is the success story of Allium Medical Solutions Ltd. in developing a line of products for the treatment of type II diabetes and obesity. Allium develops, manufactures and markets minimally invasive products. The company has four product lines in the fields of urology, uro-gynecology, cardiovascular and gastroenterology, and their common denominator in all these fields is the use of innovative and minimally invasive technology.

"Recently we signed an agreement to develop and commercialize a minimally invasive medical product, to treat type II diabetes and obesity, with the National University of Singapore (NUS)," says Asaf Alperovitz, CEO of Allium. "The project will be carried out through technological, clinical, regulatory and commercial cooperation between both parties that will equally participate in the funding of the project, beyond the support by SIIRD. The product significantly reduces the absorption of sugars in the blood by isolating the digested food using a unique Gastro Duodenal Sleeve (GDS), so the food does not come into contact with the walls of the colon (the upper part of the small intestine) and the digestive juices that allow absorption of sugars in the body. The sleeve is attached to the wall of the small intestine and anchored in the stomach using an innovative Dynamic Anchoring System (DAS), which is patent protected and undergoing registration process. This product combines two main mechanisms for treating obesity and type II diabetes: reducing sugar absorption in the blood (malabsorptive) using the GDS, plus a restrictive component achieved using the DAS, which, like a balloon, fills part of the stomach cavity and thus reduces the available stomach volume and creates a feeling of fullness in the patient after eating a small portion of food.

"Shirley and the SIIRD management team in Singapore deserve a lot of praise. Our collaboration was conducted at the highest standards at all stages and management processes, as well as during complex negotiations with the university and its leading researchers to develop and commercialize this unique product with us. SIIRD has greatly helped us in creating the outline and framework to promote projects, while creating an open and pleasant business environment of mutual trust."

"We have the knowledge and the expertise in working with polymers in harsh and acidic environments (like digesting enzymes), as well as in the development of delivery systems. Meanwhile, the Singaporeans have the knowledge, the patents and the experience in making anchoring systems. In fact, the development is completely mutual, and we decided that we'll market the products together, as part of a joint venture that will be equally supported by both parties, and will be responsible for sales and marketing in the world. Thus we created an outline for business cooperation with similar interests, to the success of both parties. We believe that in 18 months we will get CE approval to market the product in Europe. We will begin in Europe as a primary market, and start the registration processes in other markets, including those of the Far East," says Alperovitz.

 

The Coveted Partner

How to look for (and find) a partner in Singapore?

The first step on the way to cooperation with a Singaporean company is to search for an ideal R&D partner by area of expertise, and with the help of SIIRD management team in Singapore. Interested companies should fill in a Partner Search Form that describes the company, the brief description of the proposed R&D project and the desired profile of R&D partner and its role in the proposed R&D project.

Who can get SIIRD support?

R&D projects conducted in cooperation with a Singaporean company or research institute, and an Israeli company (registered and based in Singapore or Israel, respectively); projects that are planned to end with a product ready for commercialization, as at least 30% of the actual R&D expenses of the project were in Singapore or Israel; companies that have private financing to match the project funding.

How to return the grant?

Support recipients are required to repay the grant received from SIIRD in the form of royalties, when there are sales resulting from the joint project. This grant is conditional to the commercial success of the project. If the project fails, there is no requirement to refund the grant.

Three models of projects are offered by the SIIRD Foundation:

1. Feasibility Project – the project is up to three months, with a budget of up to $60,000 for R&D, to examine technological feasibility. SIIRD support – up to $30,000.

2. Mini Project – the project is up to one year, with a budget of up to $400,000 for R&D, SIIRD support – up to $200,000.

3. Full Scale Project – the project is up to three years. The total grant for the project is up to 50% of the approved project costs, , providing funding up to $1,000,000.

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