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6 deep tech startups from Asia with big ambitions

6 deep tech startups from Asia with big ambitions

Published 13 Jun, 2016

The finalists for the Asian Entrepreneur Award 2016.

The Asian Entrepreneurship Award today revealed the six finalists that were whittled down from 27 semi-finalists.The international competition, now in its fifth year, featured startups from 14 countries working on everything from food waste recycling to image technology that can detect skin cancer.

Here are the finalists.

First Prize – BorderPass

BorderPass receiving its prize with CEOsal Ariff in the cente Fair.

Malaysia was the first country in the world to use biometric passports and automated gates at the airport. BorderPass hopes to continue the trend of Malaysia pioneering passport technology with its web-based immigration system.

According to today’s pitch, 38 percent of Southeast Asian airports are over-capacity. BorderPass wants to be the first “cloud passport” which gets rid of immigration forms and keeps your travel history organized.

The technology includes 3D facial image recognition and other biometrics such as fingerprints, palm scans, and passport scans. It has a touchless ten-finger fingerprint scan which starts with the waving of your hands across the sensor.

The company has already partnered with Air Asia and is part of travel company Amadeus’ startup community, Amadeus Next. It plans to start an official government-approved test this year at both of Kuala Lumpur’s international airports.

BorderPass received roughly US$9,280 and two years of free office space at 31Ventures by Mitsui Fudosan for first prize.

Second Prize – DRD Biotech

DRD Biotech receiving its prize with CEO Anzhey Zhimbiev in the center.

DRD Biotech is a Russian company working on a rapid test for the assessment of brain damage.

It plans to license its quick blood test kit which includes testing strips, a mobile detector, and a smartphone application. Although imaging technologies like MRIs and CT scans are often used to detect concussions and other traumatic brain injuries, these tests can be expensive and slow.

The entrepreneurs hope to reduce tests down to a matter of minutes for a cost of around US$20. The team is also working on using the test to detect other things such as ischemic strokes caused by blood clots and post-traumatic epilepsy.

The test currently has 91 percent specificity (9 percent false positives or negatives) and is estimated to start clinical trials next year.

DRD Biotech received roughly US$4,640 and two years of free office space at 31Ventures by Mitsui Fudosan for second prize.

Third Prize – Gimer Medical

An implanted device that reduces chronic back pains.

Gimer Medical is researching high-frequency stimulation to reduce chronic lower back pain.

Although used as a last resort, 58 percent of lower back surgeries fail, the startup says. The clinical use of spinal cord stimulation has been studied since the 1960s. Gimer Medical uses an implanted device to provide patients with high frequency stimulation with fewer side effects and longer lasting pain relief than current spinal cord stimulators (SCS).

Although the device has only been tested on animals, Gimer Medical hopes to expand the current market of 100,000 SCS devices to one million by reducing the cost to one-third of current technologies.

Gimer Medical received roughly US$2,780 and two years of free office space at 31Ventures by Mitsui Fudosan for third prize.

Tsinova Technology

Tsinova Technology makes funky electric bicycles to reduce traffic in urban areas.

Tsinova is based out of Beijing and cites traffic as a major problem in cities. The company’s electric-assisted bicycle was created by a star-studded team with designers from Audi and marketing whizzes from Tesla. The battery actually uses the same technology developed by Panasonic that is used in Tesla’s cars.

Riders can connect their smartphones to the bike to automatically change the level of assist, display speed and incline, as well as get directions. The app can also be used to locate a bicycle to help prevent theft.

Tsinova is already selling more than 4,000 bicycles per month in Beijing at roughly US$540 each. The e-bikes have a range of 50 to 70 kilometers and can be charged in two hours.

The team hopes to expand to other major cities and be a replacement for cars by focusing on efficiency and design.

Apollo Medical Optics

Co-founder and CEO Allen Lin introducing Apollo Medical Optics.

Apollo Medical Optics is a new type of medical imaging technology.

The startup’s imaging device uses a unique light source that allows it to capture images at smaller scales and higher resolutions than current solutions. There are numerous applications for the technology but it is currently being used in dermatology where it gives cellular-level images of the skin.

In a feasibility study, the team was able to identify tumors, melanoma, and other skin diseases.

According to the pitch, there are over four million skin cancer patients every year in the US alone. The startup hopes to help identify cancerous cells and cut down surgery times from six hours to just one hour.

There are still many regulatory hurdles to overcome. The company estimates getting FDA Class I approval in the second half of 2017.

Hong Kong Organic Waste Recycling Centre

Chief Commercial Officer Andrew Young Meng-Cheung introducing Hong Kong Organic Waste Recycling Centre.

This startup collects and processes food waste and then turns that waste into animal feed. “It is our duty to return this gift to nature,” says Andrew Young Meng-Cheung from Hong Kong Organic Waste Recycling Center.

Hong Kong produces around 3,000 tons of food waste everyday. The center collects about five to eight tons per day from 20 clients.

Through a process of refinement and nutrient addition, the team has been able to produce 1.5 tons of animal food a day which is sold to farmers.

There’s still room to expand. In Hong Kong alone, 210 tons of animal food is needed daily. The Organic Waste Recycling Centre hopes to expand to other areas, including China, as part of the government’s new official five-year plan to reduce food waste.

Converted from Chinese yuan, Hong Kong dollars, and Japanese yen. Rate: US$1 = RMB 6.57; US$1 = HKD 7.77; US$1 = JPY 108


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