Digital Transformation Exchange: Robotics

Bots + Business = Boundless Opportunities

Singapore International Robo Expo 2017, which coincided with the ACE Digital Transformation Exchange: Robotics

The world’s collective understanding of a robot has progressed rather quickly from fiction to reality – from friendly defender Astro Boy to Sophia, the humanoid robot who was recently granted citizenship by Saudi Arabia. It is understandable that change of this nature, happening at this pace, is met with as much anticipation as anxiety.

For ACE Executive Director Edmas Neo, the robotics industry holds much promise for startups. He described it as “a new shift in the Blue Ocean” during his address at the Singapore International Robo Expo 2017 on 3 November.

“Are we innovating our way to termination? We might if we are not careful; if we do not know how to harness the power of technology while developing forward-looking policies that can encourage and support innovation on one hand, and provide protection on the other,” he said.

The buzz over robotics comes from its depth of potential, breadth of application and the break-neck speed at which it is developing. IDC has forecast that worldwide spending on robotics will reach US$230.7 billion (S$315 billion) by 2021. This includes spending on drones as well as robotic hardware, software and services.

This also signals the opportunity for an entire robotics ecosystem, cutting across multiple engineering and technology disciplines, to flourish.

“We do not expect many companies to be able to build complete systems by themselves. This presents opportunities for startups with specialist capabilities to participate in the industry, and supply much-needed technologies for the overall integration and deployment of the robots,” Mr Neo pointed out.

In Singapore, robotics has been identified as one of 10 key drivers of transformation, with the government allocating S$450 million to the national robotics programme. ACE has also revealed plans to launch the ACE Robotics Centre next year to support robotics startups on prototyping.

This will be a boon to the estimated 120 local startups currently dealing with robotics. Some of these startups participated in ACE’s Digital Transformation Exchange (DTE) on Robotics, which was organised on the afternoon of Singapore International Robo Expo.

DTE is a series of knowledge-sharing events by ACE, designed to help startups connect with corporates and SMEs while highlighting their various innovations and technologies. Each session, which carries a thematic sectorial focus, allows participating startups to discuss upcoming trends, opportunities and challenges in their areas of expertise.

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