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Leaders in Innovation Fellowships celebrates five years of world-changing innovations


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Sun, 20 Oct. 2019
  • More than $80 million in business funding has been raised by the 1,000-strong community of entrepreneurs supported by the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Leaders in Innovation Fellowships programme
  • The Asia Innovates summit on 15-17 October in Kuala Lumpur celebrated the five-year anniversary, showcasing innovations from entrepreneurs across Asia who are supported by the programme
  • An online community has been launched to provide at-a-glance information on the innovations created, a route to market and investment sought by the entrepreneurs, as well as collaboration opportunities

The Leaders in Innovation Fellowships (LIF) programme, which is run by the Royal Academy of Engineering and supported by the UK’s Government’s Newton Fund, has celebrated five years of providing unique support for entrepreneurs around the world. The Academy marked the milestone by holding the Asia Innovates summit, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, bringing together the most promising engineering entrepreneurs from seven of the participating countries – China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam – alongside notable business leaders and investors from the region and the UK.

An online community showcasing the inspiring innovators supported by the LIF programme has also been launched to mark the anniversary. It provides investors and funders with an at-a-glance summary of the innovation created, a route to market, and support sought from each entrepreneur. The community also provides a platform for the LIF engineers, researchers and innovators from around the world to collaborate and learn from each other to speed the commercialisation of products that will change the world for good.

Entrepreneurial training for research-driven innovators can be a powerful tool for expanding their businesses. Since 2014, the LIF programme has fostered innovation leadership by supporting 1000 of the world’s brightest engineering entrepreneurs from emerging economies across four continents. Between them, they have secured over $80 million in business funding. The programme empowers its alumni to commercialise innovations that will contribute to economic and social development in their countries and beyond. Ranging from low-cost water purification and eco-friendly biofuels to cataract treatment and assistive technology for disabled people, innovations developed by the LIF community are changing almost every industry, in all corners of the world.

The Asia Innovates summit demonstrated the role of the LIF programme in nurturing positive social change through entrepreneurship, and deepening partnerships between Asia, the UK and Europe. The 150 alumni in attendance received critical business training and support, from securing funding to developing a marketing strategy. As well as an inspiring opportunity for participants to network, exchange ideas and build lasting relationships through the rich programme, the summit featured thought-provoking discussions, mentoring, intense workshops, a pitching competition and a showcase that aimed to further develop and promote LIF alumni, supporting their path to commercialisation.

The winners of the pitching competition were:

  • Most Fundable Innovation Award:
    • Dr Wirulda Nik Pootakham, HybridSure, Thailand – A service that enables seed production companies to assess genetic purity of their hybrid seeds quickly and accurately using advanced DNA marker technology
  • Groundbreaking Innovation Award:
    • Dr Yongchong Chen, Beijing HAWAGA Power Storage Technology Company Ltd., China – A lithium slurry battery as a new energy storage technology. Low-cost, long-life, high safety and easy to recycle
  • Most Impactful Innovation Award:
    • Pham Ngoc Anh Tung, DEMETER – Foodmap, Vietnam – An agricultural IoT solution to help farmers increase productivity, predict yield and share information with restaurants and clients

Dr Mike Short CBE FREng, Chief Scientific Advisor at the UK’s Department for International Trade and keynote speaker at the summit, said “The LIF programme has made a huge impact in facilitating innovation since its inception five years ago. Almost 1000 promising inventors have benefited from the programme and being part of this global community, and the Asia Innovates summit provides a perfect place to celebrate some of the most exciting projects from across Asia that we are proud to support.”

The event was hosted in Kuala Lumpur by the Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT) and produced in collaboration with British Foreign and Commonwealth Office representatives in the seven participating countries. The summit presents the unique characteristics that make these seven Asian markets globally competitive and showcases sectors where Asia pioneer’s world-leading innovations.

It was delivered by the Academy as part of the UK Government’s Newton Fund. The Newton Fund builds research and innovation partnerships with 17 active partner countries to support their economic development and social welfare, and to develop their research and innovation capacity for long-term sustainable and equitable growth. Through the Newton Fund, the UK will invest up to £735 million over seven years, with funding matched by support from each partner country, magnifying the impact and outcomes.

Datuk Dr Mohd Yusoff Sulaiman, CEO of MIGHT, said “Asia Innovates 2019 serves as a platform that brings together the “best of the best” innovation in the region and channels the latest and potential technologies to meet the demand of the industry. It is high time we bring our innovators to the centre stage and show our capabilities to the world.”

HE Charles Hay MVO, British High Commissioner to Malaysia, said “Strategic science and innovation partnership is increasingly important in shaping the modern-day relationship between the UK and Malaysia. The UK Government has committed to investing up to £35 million in Malaysia under the Newton-Ungku Omar Fund and this is matched by the Malaysian Government. The Fund supports 38 sustainability-related programmes in Malaysia and The Leaders in Innovation Fellowships programme is an excellent example of this. I am pleased to see budding Malaysian entrepreneurs being paired with UK industry experts to develop market-ready innovations in health and life sciences, future cities, agritech, environmental resilience and energy security, as well as digital innovation and creativity.”

The newly-launched LIF online community brings together alumni spanning the full five years of the programme, enabling a collaborative network for LIF alumni, mentors, trainers, programme managers and in-country partners to create, learn, explore and innovate together online. The community makes it easy to connect with other entrepreneurs who are passionate about tackling some of the world’s biggest challenges and transferring research into real-world applications. Profiles of these inspiring technologies and innovations demonstrate their social and economic impact to a global audience, connecting LIF alumni with potential investors and stakeholders ready to support their path to market.

You can visit the community here.

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