Discover, Connect, and Collaborate at TechInnovation 2021


Enterprises and Innovators all need a platform to connect for ideas to flourish and partnerships to come to fruition. TechInnovation has grown to become a leading technology brokerage event in Singapore organised by IPI. This episode serves as the teaser and preview of the upcoming TechInnovation 2021 taking place from 28 to 30 September – to spotlight this year’s theme, A Sustainable and Resilient Future, and how participants can optimise their networking to open new doors.



Yvonne Chan: Welcome to futurepulse, a podcast series brought to you by IPI, your Innovation Partner for Impact. Together, we will explore how ideas, creativity and collaboration drive impactful innovation.

Welcome to this episode of futurepulse. I'm Yvonne Chan and I am joined by David Golding, the Head of Global Innovation Partnerships at Innovate UK, and Tam Hock Chuan, the Managing Director of Vertex Growth.

We are here to zoom in on how companies can Discover, Connect and Collaborate at the upcoming TechInnovation 2021. Into its 10th year, the 2021 edition of TechInnovation is completely digital, running 24 hours from the 28th to 30th of September. It's the platform for exhibitors and attendees across all time zones to network virtually, and where ideas and partnerships can flourish.

Last year, TechInnovation saw more than 150 e-exhibitors, and over 300 technologies were showcased to a global audience of more than 2,000 participants. In 2020, the opportunity to network and collaborate was cited as the top reason for exhibitors and delegates to participate, and the relevance of that is even more important as travel faces prolonged disruption.

So what can we expect from this year's TechInnovation? Let's hear from David and Hock Chuan. Gentlemen, welcome. Could you tell us more about your current roles? David, let's have you start off.

1:32 David Golding: Many thanks, Yvonne and I'm David Golding, Head of Global Innovation Partnerships for Innovate UK so that's the UK’s national innovation agency. We are the main organisation in the UK supporting R&D and innovation with businesses, and we’re clearly keen to see those businesses grow and scale globally, so really pleased to be engaging with TechInnovation this year.
1:57 Yvonne Chan: So, providing lots of R&D support to businesses. Thanks David. Hock Chuan?

Tam Hock Chuan: Thanks Yvonne. My name is Hock Chuan, I'm a partner in the Vertex Growth Fund. Vertex Growth Fund is part of the family of six funds under Vertex Holdings and collectively we manage US$5 billion. Our investors are sovereign funds, pension funds, endowment funds, corporates, and high net worth individuals.

Collectively, we invest in all things tech, that means Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and Life Sciences. We invest in all stages from seed all the way to growth. We’d like to say that we can take your company from business conception to IPO. My fund, in particular the Vertex Growth Fund, we are in the growth stage as the name suggests, we have a global mandate and we're investing from our first fund of US$290 million which we raised in 2019. We're in the middle of raising our second fund and our expectation is that it will be larger than our first fund, so we will have a lot of dry powder for start-ups.

3:08 Yvonne Chan: Very nice. So, I really am in good company today, you know, speaking to the experts, and how they can support businesses at different stages of growth when it comes to getting the right funding and making the right connections and collaborations. So what are your thoughts then, on this year's event theme - Discover, Connect and Collaborate? Why do you think it is especially important for year 2021, David?

David Golding: I think this year it's vital for businesses to really collaborate. I think we're coming out of the back of obviously the COVID pandemic and people are really starting to look at, you know, how do you sort of collaborate, grow and scale the business increasingly, and a key part of that is a global growth of the businesses.

I think what we're also starting to see and very much part of the theme of TechInnovation around sustainable and resilient future, is that a lot of countries now are starting to really look at how do we address things like climate change, and there's clearly a role for science and innovation to provide solutions to that. And I think the more we can bring people together, to bring ideas together and collaborate and network, I think the more and better solutions we will really find from companies going forward.

4:33 Yvonne Chan: And the key word there is that urgency, right? Vital, like you said. Why we have to make those connections now and come together to address a lot of, you know, more important and pressing global issues and challenges. Hock Chuan?

Tam Hock Chuan: Yeah, I’d like to pick up the theme that David started on - Sustainability and Resilience. I think if you follow the news this week or last week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued their report which kind of categorically say that definitely (there's) global warming and human is responsible, and we need to do something substantial and sustained in order to correct the situation.

And before this call, I actually looked up a data point, if you look at how the industry that I'm in, the venture capital industry, has responded to this challenge and if I add up all the funds that have been raised by the climate focus fund, just up to this point this year, the amount raised is more than the combined funds raised in the last five years. So what that means is there are a lot of capital looking for worthwhile ventures to bet on and to help improve and (work) towards a more sustainable economy and environment.


Tam Hock Chuan: Yeah, I’d like to pick up the theme that David started on - Sustainability and Resilience. I think if you follow the news this week or last week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued their report which kind of categorically say that definitely (there's) global warming and human is responsible, and we need to do something substantial and sustained in order to correct the situation.

And before this call, I actually looked up a data point, if you look at how the industry that I'm in, the venture capital industry, has responded to this challenge and if I add up all the funds that have been raised by the climate focus fund, just up to this point this year, the amount raised is more than the combined funds raised in the last five years. So what that means is there are a lot of capital looking for worthwhile ventures to bet on and to help improve and (work) towards a more sustainable economy and environment.


David Golding: Yeah, I think TechInnovation is always a great event and it feels like it's the place where globally, everyone comes together once a year to meet. It's always a pleasure to work with the team at IPI who are just fantastic and run a fantastic event. I think for me, what I'm really looking forward to again, is just the opportunity for businesses to come together to really understand who the potential partners are that they could find, and to really look together at what the opportunities might be.

I think we've seen over the last 18 months that you know, some of those opportunities haven't existed, yet a lot of it has been virtual and I think people are now really starting to see the value of doing things virtually and learning how to do it. And I think this year, with some really strong themes, I think it's a big opportunity and we're again bringing out virtually, unfortunately, but virtually a group of companies, UK companies who are really keen to engage and collaborate, network and see what the opportunities are for moving forward.

7:47 Yvonne Chan: That is the new modus operandi (M.O.) now, isn't it? Doing things virtually and doing it very well, just like speaking or connecting and networking with potential investors and collaborators. Speaking of networking, why do you think networking opportunities and exposure to international partners is crucial to the success of not only innovation, but also business growth as a whole, Hock Chuan?

Tam Hock Chuan: Okay, so let me speak from the perspective of a venture capitalist (VC). So we invest in start-ups and when we invest in a start-up, we look for a few things and these are the critical things that we look for. One is intellectual property (IP), two is management team, and three is innovative business idea, and anchoring this is the IP and if you have a strong IP, it can provide you a very strong differentiating factor in the product or service that you provide. And that also provides a very strong barrier of entry that can protect your business from competitors, but IP alone is not enough to build a business.

As I have mentioned, you need to bring in the other elements and what the value of such an event is that you can meet the other elements and if they collide, can coalesce into a very strong start-up. So, you could meet businesses that are looking for IP, that are looking for a use case for their IP to bolster their business. You could meet other strong business partners and entrepreneurs who are looking for their next stint. And collectively, if they come together and become a start-up, let these become candidates for my industry and as an event, as the one we're talking about is a natural avenue for this to come together.

9:44 Yvonne Chan: Three very important points that that you raised, right? IP, how that anchors your business in terms of differentiation and barriers to entry, having a strong management team and having that very crucial innovative business idea. So, going to TechInnovation, you might be able to find what you're currently lacking. David, would you like to share some of your viewpoints on this question, too?
10:09 David Golding: Yeah, certainly. I mean, I think, for me, it's the case that no one country or enterprise has all the answers and therefore, the exposure to international partners or experts can generate new ideas and thinking which often lead to new opportunities for businesses to take it forward. All we see is that for enterprises today then if they want to grow and scale, they need to be global as the market size of most countries means that global expansion is the only way to grow the business. And I think, you know, as they try to do that, then finding partners and clearly trusted partners is a key part of that. And I think, you know, organisations like IPI and events like TechInnovation, really start to provide that platform where you can find those trusted partners.
11:06 Yvonne Chan: On that note of no one enterprise or no one country has all the solutions, we've actually seen many international partners now come on board this year. For example, we've got Germany, the Netherlands, Indonesia, and Thailand, and some of these partners also range from start-ups and growth companies to research centres. So how can participants make the most of TechInnovation 2021, when it comes to looking for the right international collaboration partners? Still sticking with you, David, if you just like to expound a bit more on that point?
11:39 David Golding: I think one of the interesting things of doing things virtually is that everyone is registered on a platform and so it's not as though you're sort of turning up at an event and looking at people's badges and trying to work out who you can talk to. Actually, you've got it all in front of you already. So you've already got a list of all of the people who are attending and a bit of information so you can really sort of do your homework really in advance and work out, you know, who do you want to meet while the events on for three days and longer. So I think, you know, the opportunities then, as I said earlier, is you know, everyone's coming together in one place at one time globally. It really does provide a platform where you can find potential collaborators from all countries, so it's a really exciting opportunity.
12:31 Yvonne Chan: So, do your homework, do your research. Hock Chuan? 

Tam Hock Chuan: I agree absolutely, and I think the organisers should be able to provide the list of the participants, the companies that will be presenting and the IPs that will be on display. I think I'm sure they can provide all this in advance and with this, you can actually plan ahead.

And the other suggestion I would have is to always leave time for networking. There's a lot of serendipity at work, you know, right place, right time. But you have to create the opportunities for this to happen, right? You have to be there, you have to create space so that the gods can smile on you. So, make time for networking and, you know, maybe the heavens will smile on you.


Yvonne Chan: It's good to always do your research. I understand that too because I mean, can you imagine going into a blind date completely unprepared or hoping or even just going to a networking event, right, and you don't know who's going to be there. And you're just glancing at these faces, back when we had these face-to-face meetings, and hoping to just catch the eye of someone who would want to invite you into that group.

You know, the opportunity to network and collaborate was cited as the top reason for enterprises to participate. So, Hock Chuan, you've said it's important to leave time for networking. It is rather serendipitous, but networking digitally is very hard. So now that I have you two gentlemen on the same platform, do you have any quick tips to share on how we can navigate this process besides being prepared and doing your homework?

14:13 David Golding: I think for me, one of the things you need to do is make sure you've got a good profile on the system. So, if you want people to find you and you want people to ask questions, then actually having a good profile on the system is key. Otherwise, you're not really selling yourself in the first place. So, I think that's vital and as we said, doing your homework, in terms of who are the people you want to meet, is equally vital. Yeah, and the likes of IPI can help in that process. So, I think all of those things come together, but it does come down to still doing your homework and doing your hard work. 
14:53 Yvonne Chan: Yeah.
14:53 Tam Hock Chuan: And the other thing I will add is. Oh I'm sorry,Yvonne.
14:56 Yvonne Chan: No, no, no, go on. I just thought that having a good profile really and selling yourself well on the system is also very crucial. Hock Chuan?
15:03 Tam Hock Chuan: I was just going to add that I think it's important to do your planning and network at the event. But I think what's important is what you do post-event. I would say always follow up and close the loop. You know, the next event is a year away, so you have one year to harvest and combine all the relationships that you have built in this year's event and then take it forward.

Yvonne Chan: Really good tips there, gentlemen. Thank you. Have a good profile on the system as well as do the necessary post-event follow-up. Yeah, many people forget that, once you go back into, you know, daily life, the everyday routine, and it's sometimes hard to want to keep up and, you know, tie up all the loose ends.

Now earlier in the conversation, Hock Chuan, you alluded to TechInnovation being sort of like a marketplace, right, where companies who are looking for the right IP, can go to. So, really a marketplace for IP providers, as well as IP seekers. So, this event does bring together technology seekers as well as tech providers. So how do you think tech matching really works and why is this a must-not-miss opportunity for enterprises?


Tam Hock Chuan: I think this really speaks to the role of IPI. I've worked with IPI and they have a very dedicated team of people. And I think the key role that they play in this event and in the work they do, is being an honest broker. You know, they see both sides. They talk to people who created the IP, they understand what the IP can do and the potential application.

They also talk to businesses that can potentially be receptacles of those IP, they understand the problem statements and the business needs of these businesses or IP seekers. So, they see both sides, and they see many, so they're the one in the middle, in a many-to-many relationship. And because of that, they're able to then find the best match between the supplier of IP and the user of IP. And also, because of their unique situation as a catalyst, I think they are also best able to advise on what is a good structure, a fair structure and a productive structure to build the relationship between both parties.

So as an honest broker, I think their key performance indicators (KPI) is really to see how they can bring value to both sides of the equation. My suggestion to people attending the event, if you're not already done so, is to reach out to IPI, have that conversation with them whether you're on the buyer or seller side. And I'm sure there's a lot of things that they can do and help you, either at the event or post-event.


Yvonne Chan: It's so important to have a good matchmaker, isn't it? David, you want to share your thoughts on this one too?


David Golding: Yeah, very much. I think the whole issue around trust here is vital and you know, Innovate UK works very closely with IPI, and we have done so for a number of years and we very much value that trusty relationship between the two organisations, but equally that then sort of manifests itself in really bringing together the companies.

So, you know, from Innovate UK, we're working with trusted companies on the UK side that we know and we can validate, and equally IPI doing the same. So, when those companies come together, they know that actually there's a level of trust already in place, so they're not necessarily having to do as much themselves, to try and understand a partner they won't want to work with. Because essentially, IPI and Innovate UK have already taken out a level of risk between those two companies.


Yvonne Chan: That's right, IPI has already done the Know Your Customer (KYC) and the background checks so that takes away a lot of the effort that's required on the company's individual part. But still on the topic of tech matching, Innovate UK has brought over delegations for the past four years now. So, how has TechInnovation benefited the companies that do you have brought onboard, David? Do you have some success stories to share with us today?


David Golding: Yes, certainly. I mean, I think we generally bring over 15 companies at a time, we think that's just generally as a good group and we found a lot of benefit in doing that. And you know, TechInnovation is a fantastic event for companies to find potential partners and we see a number of successes. We had a company called Cognitiv+, who we brought out in 2018, who do intelligent document review so it automatically reviews, identifies and extracts key provisions from core persons and legal documents. And they've gone on to build partnerships, both with companies in Singapore, but equally companies they met outside of Singapore as well. So that's very much boosted that company, enabled them to grow even further.

We brought another company out called Optimiz in 2019. Again, they're working around bringing cargo owners and cargo insurers together to really speed and have a high level of throughput through for cargo claims areas. And again, that company, you know, just on the relationships they built, again, they're starting to work together with other organisations in Singapore and wider, and it's really again, both boosted their growth. So, I think what we're seeing is you know, companies come to the TechInnovation, they meet partners then it really does lead to accelerated growth within the companies.

21:02 Yvonne Chan: So, great examples of success stories there, David. Thank you for that. You said you've always brought like a delegation of about 15 companies. Any plans to increase that number in the years going forward? I'm sure there are. 
21:15 David Golding: Yeah, I think for us, I mean, we will certainly be back again this year with a group of companies and continue to do that year after year. Because you know, TechInnovation is a fantastic experience, both for (us) and for the companies. But they get a huge amount of benefit out of it and so I think we're looking at how we can increase that and how we bring out multiple groups potentially. So lots of exciting opportunities going forward.
21:43 Yvonne Chan: Now, if there're still enterprises having second thoughts about exhibiting or attending this event, what would you say to them? Hock Chuan?
21:53 Tam Hock Chuan: I think this is a great event and as you said earlier, this an event that has been running for 10 years now. 
22:00 Yvonne Chan: That's right.
22:00 Tam Hock Chuan: It must be doing something right. So, I'll say give it a try. 
22:05 Yvonne Chan: David?

David Golding: I would say there's really little to lose. I mean, enterprises will need to invest some time and effort and recognise that there's an opportunity cost of that. But collaborating and networking can certainly open up lots of opportunities and spark new ideas, which can be really valuable.

I think what we've seen over the last 18 months, a lot of people have been working from home or haven't had much opportunity to network. And when I talk to UK businesses, the one thing they miss, as part of their international activities and particularly, is really attending conferences, trade shows and making the connections and learning what's going on in the market. And so I think, you know, having something like TechInnovation as a way of bringing people together is a fantastic opportunity. So yeah, I would say to them, you know, don't miss out and really engage.


Yvonne Chan: Yeah, don't miss out and really engage. I personally find that networking virtually, it is very difficult, but I'm going to take some of your tips today in terms of you know, boosting my profile on the system, and also making sure that I do my homework and follow through post-event.

Now, what do you think? I mean, lastly, gentlemen, what do you think is the number one thing that participants can really take away and get out of this event? If I could ask you to leave them with maybe a snazzy tagline or word or two, Hock Chuan?

23:33 Tam Hock Chuan: I would say network and then, given that this is going to be a three-day and 24-hour event, I will say caffeinate and carry on.
23:43 Yvonne Chan: Caffeinate?
23:44 Tam Hock Chuan: Yeah. You will need that.
23:47 Yvonne Chan: Network, caffeinate and carry on. Oh, I like that. David?
23:52 David Golding: Yeah, I quite like “caffeinate” because I think some of the people in the UK, given the time difference, will probably be out quite early so they might need it. I would say collaborate to compete together because I think for me, that is what TechInnovation is really about. It's about bringing people together so that they can jointly compete globally, really. So, for me, I think that's one of the key things that TechInnovation delivers.

Yvonne Chan: So well-said from the both of you today. Collaborate and compete, network and caffeinate for that three-day marathon and carry on. So, thank you so much, David and Hock Chuan, for your wonderful sharing today on why this particular edition of TechInnovation 2021 is especially important in bringing together potential partners to address some of these global challenges with the latest technologies.

And like you said, David, it's about collaborating and competing. You've also shared some amazing tips and easy tips too on how companies, individuals and enterprises can best navigate TechInnovation 2021. Firstly, by doing your research, doing that homework, knowing who's going to be there, being intentional in who you want to meet, and also doing a little bit to spruce up your profile so you sell your company and yourself better. Thank you so much.

Now we've got lots of exciting stuff happening at this year's TechInnovation 2021. We have three key pillars shining the spotlight on a Green and Sustainable Future, Sustainable Food and Nutrition, as well as Health and Wellness. We also talked a lot about virtual networking in our conversation today, and so to facilitate that, there will be digital booths with live chats, instant video calls, and B2B meeting schedulers to boost collaboration. There will also be a pitching platform for technology seekers, where they can listen to the pitches from IPI's partners from the UK, the Nordics, Netherlands, Japan, and Korea and many more.

We do encourage you to join us for strong networking and collaboration opportunities with international partners, create awareness for your technology offers and learn about emerging trends and how we can leverage them for our digital future. So, we look forward to seeing you at TechInnovation 2021. Don't forget to caffeinate.

I'm Yvonne Chan, thank you so much for joining us today and we will see you next time for another exciting and insightful episode.