Developing technology tailored to industry needs
At the Technology Development Centre at ITE College Central, a multi-disciplinary R&D team works with partners to develop efficient cost-saving solutions.

Across industries, from manufacturing to retail, individual companies face unique challenges. Despite contending within the same sector, when searching for new technology, each organisation requires specific solutions that address their needs to truly maximise efficiency and reduce costs.

Keenly aware of this fact, the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) College Central’s Technology Development Centre (TDC) embraces open innovation to work with partners and develop customised solutions. Alternatively, customers can also leverage existing solutions developed within the TDC’s areas of expertise.

Recently, despite COVID-19, the TDC successfully licensed eight projects—an all-time high in the last five years. Additionally, the centre received awards like the Par Excellence Award for representing Singapore in India for the 46th International Convention on Quality Control Circle 2021 and the Outstanding Innovator Silver Award under the Ministry of Education (MOE) Innergy Awards in 2021.

In this interview, Director of TDC Dr Lee Teck Kheng offers a glimpse into the centre’s recent projects and vision for the future.

1. What are the key capabilities of the ITE Technology Development Centre? 

The TDC at ITE College Central is a one-stop technology and business solutions centre. We develop innovative products and cost-effective solutions to meet customers’ needs. TDC houses a multi-disciplinary team that works together to develop technologies like the internet of things (IoT) devices and robotics across industries like retail, manufacturing and healthcare.

In addition to technical capabilities, TDC also supports the management of intellectual property (IP), event management and mentorship for start-ups as an Accredited Mentorship Partner with Enterprise Singapore.

2. What is unique about the ITE Technology Development Centre's approach to open innovation?

Open innovation requires the seamless exchange of knowledge and resources to accelerate technology development and boost market adoption. TDC aims to understand our partners’ unique concerns in order to formulate cost-effective solutions that meet their needs.

As collaboration is a significant part of TDC’s core values, we can leverage an intensive industry network that includes partners in supply chain, prototyping R&D and IP development.

3. How has the ITE Technology Development Centre benefitted companies, either SMEs or large corporations, at prototyping or test bedding stages?

Typically, our support improves innovation and cost-savings for SMEs and MNCs. For example, in 2019, we assisted printing company Markono Print Media by introducing an IoT laser counting system on their legacy equipment. The industry 4.0 applications allowed them to achieve substantial cost savings in their production processes.

More recently, we worked with regional toiletry supplier Fullsun Marketing to develop a proprietary IoT wireless water flow monitoring system that is capable of detecting and shutting off leakages to conserve water while waiting for maintenance. The system eases installation with low implementation cost and is currently pending commercial deployment.

Our engineering and business teams are attuned to our customers' needs, and actively engages partners across all phases—from ideation and prototyping to proofs-of-concept and implementation.

4. What kind of companies and collaborators are you currently looking to work with?

We hope to partner SMEs and MNCs that are looking to test-bed new solutions and products to enhance their operations’ productivity. We would also like to co-develop products and solutions with partners for a win-win collaboration throughout their innovation journey. Start-ups that are keen to adopt ready products and innovation solutions from TDC can get in touch with us too.

5. How can companies engage and begin working with the ITE Technology Development Centre?

We are open to hosting visits for companies that would like to view TDC’s integrated facilities as well as completed projects and solutions. Through such visits, companies can present their problem statements and better understand our technological competencies.

We will then assess the problem statement and value proposition before getting our cross-disciplinary team to examine the technical specifications of the project. If the project is within TDC’s areas of focus, we can begin collaborating to develop a unique solution.

Currently, TDC’s areas of focus include IoT, equipment utilisation, water conservation and productivity for industry robotics.

6. Can you tell us more about the ITE Technology Development Centre’s partnership with IPI over the years?

Our relationship with IPI has strengthened over the years and our commercialisation projects have benefitted from IPI’s extensive network and dedicated team. Additionally, IPI’s emphasis on collaboration and open innovation has been a catalyst to the development of our innovative tech solutions that are focused on social impact.

For example, in 2017, the team made a huge leap in its industry collaboration journey by licensing a medical assistive device called the “Percutaneous-Access-to-Kidney-Assist Device (PAKAD)” to Invivo Medical Pte Ltd through IPI’s TechInnovation event. This collaborative project resulted in a solution that simplifies the procedure for removing kidney stones and is expected to reach the market soon. 

In 2020, IPI facilitated an introduction with a large local enterprise that we have since successfully collaborated with to develop a 16-channel high-speed data acquisition system for monitoring critical assets.