Singapore Airshow 2018 to showcase start-ups in virtual reality, cybersecurity


SINGAPORE: For the first time, the Singapore Airshow will include a showcase of start-ups in its 2018 edition.

About 70 start-ups from 10 countries will exhibit their products at the What’s Next @ Singapore Airshow showcase in the hopes of finding potential investors among the industry heavyweights, government representatives, venture capitalists and others who will be attending the airshow.

Products on display will span areas from virtual reality to cybersecurity, organisers told Channel NewsAsia on Monday (Jan 29).

“The areas that they cover are very interesting. Things like virtual reality, autonomous technology, cybersecurity; things that have many applications in today’s world to make work more efficient,” said Mr Leck Chet Lam, Managing Director of Experia Events, the company that organises the biennial Singapore Airshow.

Stressing the importance of innovation, Mr Leck said it was best to get those who are not from the aviation industry “to think about something new”.

“Too long in the industry and you (put yourself) in a silo,” he added. “(This will) give creativity, fresh ideas. That’s what we’re trying to do.”

One such start-up is XRVision, which has designed the world’s first facial recognition and video analytics engine designed to analyse faces in uncontrolled, crowded environments.

It has an average accuracy rate of 75 per cent – two to three times the current industry standard for facial recognition technology.

Another start-up at the showcase will be AiTreat, a Singaporean medical technology start-up incubated at NTUitive. 

The company designs and integrates assistive medical robots to help doctors provide medical care to patients. AiTreat also won the top prize at the Shanghai International Start-up Competition in 2016.

Among the products from the aerospace industry will be Samad Aerospace’s Starling Jet: A hybrid electric business jet that is capable of vertical take-off and landing – just like a helicopter. 

Including these start-ups is a positive development for the airshow, said Mr Tan Kong Hwee, the Singapore Economic Development Board’s executive director of transport engineering. 

“Gone are the days when research and development was something you did within the confines of your company,” he said. “Very often, companies look outside – towards smaller companies who are a lot more agile, nimble and creative – for ideas, technology and solutions to absorb and integrate into their work.”


Mr Tan told Channel NewsAsia that the airshow will also see new facilities opening including for manufacturing and maintenance, repair and overhaul services.  

These will help fuel the 1,000 new jobs expected to be created by the Aerospace Industry Transformation Map (ITM) that was announced earlier this month.

The ITM identified three trends that will bring about growth in the industry: Digitalisation, advanced manufacturing technology and new markets such as unmanned aerial vehicles.

Looking ahead, Mr Tan said he thinks that drone technology will advance faster than we expect. 

“I think some of these solutions are actually almost ready and we just need a little more testing, and we need governments to be facilitative for these drones to fly,” he said. “That’s something I think will happen in the nearer term. We’ll see more UAVs flying.”

He added that in the longer term planes would become “more digital”.

“There is a lot of interest (in) harnessing data in the aircraft to optimise maintenance schedules, to predict when maintenance is required,” he said. “These are exciting areas to watch out for.”

The Singapore Airshow is the largest in Asia and third-largest in the world. 

It will run from Feb 6 to 11 at the Changi Exhibition Centre and will be open to the public over the weekend.


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