Many hands make light work, as the proverb goes. At the recent TechInnovation 2021 event, IPI and DesignSingapore Council (Dsg) launched the second edition of Design Think-Tank, a networking and open innovation platform for firms, organisations, designers and innovators.

“Businesses have traditionally tackled issues by resolving them in-house or engaging external stakeholders. With the Design Think-Tank, we aim to spark new synergies between designers and technologists to address corporates’ various challenge statements,” said Mark Wee, Executive Director, Dsg.

Gloobe, Food Culture Singapore and the Tsao Foundation shared their challenge statements, outlined below, at the Design Think-Tank session on the second day of TechInnovation 2021.  

The annual event, presented by IPI and in its 10th edition this year, was held virtually from September 28 to 30. Over 2,400 people and 160 exhibitors, including 11 national innovation agencies and technology consortia, participated in the event.

Those with ideas to solve any of the challenge statements can read the submission guidelines, and have until March 31, 2022, to submit their proposals.


Defending against gestational diabetes

Gloobe hopes to better engage at-risk mothers to proactively manage their risk of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), a type of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy, typically in the second or third trimester, and usually disappears after childbirth.

In Singapore, one in five pregnant women has GDM. “The problem is that 90 to 95 percent of women with GDM do not undergo regular check-ups after delivery to see if their condition has been resolved,” said Muhammad Khairul Bin Sukor, Gloobe’s Product Development Manager.

According to the Growing Up In Singapore Towards Healthy Outcomes (GUSTO) study, women with GDM are more than seven times as likely as other women to get diabetes, and 10 percent of women with GDM develop diabetes within five years of childbirth.

Gloobe co-created a Habits GDM smartphone app designed to monitor and coach women with GDM, and now wants to produce a better version that harnesses artificial intelligence, has a more user-friendly interface and provides improved support.

“Our goal is to collaborate with healthcare partners such as hospitals, and have GDM patients willingly share relevant data, such as their blood glucose, weight and diet, so that we can offer them the services that they need,” said Muhammad Khairul.

Helping food start-ups forge stronger connections

For local food start-ups, connecting with their target audience is the key to their survival, but the COVID-19 pandemic has limited their physical interactions with customers. Food Culture Singapore hopes to change this through carefully-designed pop-up stores and spaces.

“We want to design physical pop-ups that facilitate experiential engagements for consumers to interact with brands in times of COVID-19, while respecting safe distancing measures,” said Magdalene Teo, Food Culture Singapore’s E-Commerce Assistant Manager.

The company’s vision for the pop-ups includes showcasing at least 25 brands each time, with tastings, demonstrations, workshops and other activities for customers. “The pop-ups should also be sustainable and incorporate local artists and talents where possible,” she said.

Food Culture Singapore has set a $50,000 budget and development time of three months for the pop-ups, which must be reusable in different spaces. It already features over 30 local brands on its one-stop premium food gift e-commerce store.

“With the pop-ups, consumers will be able to taste the products, interact with the brands and learn more about their brand story. This will enable the brands to make closer connections with the customers,” said Teo.

Enabling and empowering the elderly

Before the Tsao Foundation set up a centre for the elderly in Whampoa in 2015, it conducted a survey in 2014 that found that about 10 percent of the seniors in the area had cognitive impairment issues, and about 50 percent of them were socially isolated.

Since 2015, the centre has operated spaces and programmes for healthy, active seniors, and provided home, clinic and centre-based services for those who are frailer, have medical conditions, or require end-of-life care.

With the COVID-19 crisis, however, the Foundation has had to transition many of the centre’s activities online, even as the pandemic has increased the seniors’ risk of social isolation and likely hurt their well-being.

Dr Su Aw, Research Fellow at the Foundation’s International Longevity Centre-Singapore, said that it wants to collaborate to design an age-friendly community in Whampoa, plus hybrid online-offline experiences that better support seniors.

“These can include ways to modify the built environment to help the elderly, and experiences that safely increase their social participation,” she said. “We want to enable older people to continue to lead healthy, engaged and purposeful lives, even as COVID-19 becomes endemic.”