10 restorative innovation initiatives from Singapore that you should know

Restorative Innovation refers to ventures, products or businesses that restore health, humanity and help protect the environment

Singapore is home to many corporate innovation efforts as well as a diverse pool of startups.

With innovation labs sprouting left and right plus around 1710 startups (according to AngelList, 2016), initiatives that are on missions to “change the world” are trending. What is more interesting is their fit in the “Restorative Innovation” bucket.

Restorative Innovationwas developed by Professor Virginia Cha & Jovan Tan and was launched in 2017.

It is a framework and an innovation model that refers to new strategies, ventures, products and concepts that are designed to restore health, humanity and the environment in addition to creating & capturing a promise of value for the consumer.

The characteristics below can help anyone understand the nature of the model.

  • Superior on the latent needs attributes, along the dimensions of health, humanity and the environment that customers value.
  • Contains new value propositions to attract a new (and often) niche customer segment who is willing to pay a price-premium for the attributes.
  • Can co-exist with mainstream products for an extended (even indefinite) period of time.
  • Price gap diminishes over-time (due to technology or scale) creates a parallel and duo consumption pattern.

Based on the above definition of Restorative Innovation, we have put together 10 companies based in Singapore that fit the principles:

1. Astroscale

Talk about moonshot. Astroscale is on a mission to secure long-term spaceflight safety by developing space debris removal services with US$25million in funding for research, education and deployment.

Why is Astroscale a Restorative Innovation Champion?

The Tesla Roadster may just be one of the debris to be cleaned up in the future, having a 6 percent chance of crashing into Earth in the next 1 million years.

Astroscale’s End-of- Life Service (ELSA) program is a spacecraft retrieval service for satellite operators, providing a cost efficient spacecraft retrieval solutions that is compliant to international space guidelines and orbit sustainability.

While it may take a while for Astroscale to deploy, space trash is a future concern for the environment and an interesting leap for innovation that does good for the Earth. 

2. billionBricks

billionBricks is a one-of-a-kind non-profit that uses design and technology as its tools to innovate shelter and infrastructure solutions for the homeless and vulnerable.

Why is billionBricks a Restorative Innovation Champion?

Housing is a human right and the first step of empowerment towards emerging out of poverty. This startup based in India and Singapore envisions a world where no one is homeless, and where everyone has access to opportunities for economic and social upliftment.

They are a recipient of the President’s Award this year, their weatherHYDE product is a life-saving shelter that protects the vulnerable from extreme weather & offers women and children privacy and a safe space. It is an emergency tent with versatile applications such as cold weather tent, flood shelter, crisis shelter, refugee shelter or as a disaster shelter. It cost USD60 for a shelter for 1 and USD300 for a family with many ways to fund this on their website.

3. Crux Lab

Crux Labs is focused on building IT products that simplify technology, in an innovative yet cost effective way, resulting in solutions that are quick to deploy and self-serviced by users. Its first product is Crux LX, a Smart Router & Unified Communication platform that launched in October 2017 and listed on KickStarter in November 2017.

Why is Crux Lab a Restorative Innovation Champion?

Crux LX is a smart device which can be configured as a router or as a network client in any existing wired or wireless networks. It is very much easy to deploy and works autonomously. The palm-sized device replaces complex VCR-era systems to reduce hardware space, creating a niche for itself in the PBX space.

Crux LX is cost efficient as it is a onetime purchase. It has great mobility and users never miss any calls when on the move.

4. GE VScan

Ultrasound device in your hands. This pocket sized gadget makes it easy for practitioners to examine patients or those in need anywhere — remote areas, home visits, scene of emergency.

Why is the GE VScan a Restorative Innovation Champion?

While GE is an international company, the product management team for VScan is from Singapore.

Making a testing device available outside of the hospitals ups the care value for patients. Practitioners can conduct examinations that may result in early detection of potentially life threatening complications anywhere. The device wirelessly transfers data to patients, referral facilities or remote experts, ensuring accuracy and efficiency. When first launched in 2013, the device cost around $8,000. Today, there are several lines available between $4,000 — $5,000.

The GE VScan was a recipient of the President’s Design Awards in 2016 

5. Gush

This startup creates air pure interior paint that purifies the air of VOC’s and formaldehyde, making your home, school or office safer to work and play in.

Why is Gush a Restorative Innovation Champion?

Gush aims to eliminate dangerous toxins living in homes and structures to prevent health issues.

The founder’s concerns extend to the value generated through the adoption of Gush, which aims to benefit humanity and not destroy or disrupt the existing value chain. One of Gush’s approaches is giving ex-offenders in Singapore a job opportunity in detail paint jobs.

In addition, they started to paint houses for communities in which people cannot afford high costly air purifies or air condition and offer training as well as education about the effects of bad indoor air quality. They use technology and innovation to create a sustainable product and manufacturing process, providing immense health and climate benefits.

6. Insectta

Turning insects into edible goodies! Black soldier files are reared by feeding it food waste. After breaking down the food waste, voila- natural fertilizer! The larvae, packed with proteins can be used as substitute for livestock feeds and many other potential applications.

The team is also working on prototype projects and exhibited these at the recent Temasek Foundation Ecosperity Conference. They showcased products such as BSF muesli, doggy treats, pasta and insect fat butter.

Why is Insectta a Restorative Innovation Champion?

Tackling the world food problem with insects may be the only solution we have in the future. Insectta provides a new value proposition for food source that may be a better nutrition source to combat hunger.

7. The New Luncher

Their mission is to cook and deliver healthy lunchboxes to children at school. 

Why is The New Luncher a Restorative Innovation Champion?

The New Luncher creates a healthy and gourmet meal plan for children. The chefs cook fresh and homemade food from scratch every morning. The New Luncher works with trusted suppliers to ensure the produce they use are safe and fresh.

Managing this end to end lunch prep cycle is at the moment $3–4 more expensive than hawker-bought food. The vision of The New Luncher is to bring the cost curve down to within incremental costs difference (from today’s 75% price premium) so more children can enjoy good foods, every day.

More about The New Luncher: https://thenewluncher.com/en-sg/ ; https://www.restorativeinnovation.com/blog/the-new-luncher

8. Tria

From design, development to manufacturing, Tria provides a full suite of services to reduce middlemen costs. Tria ensures that a person can enjoy affordable eco packaging making it much easier for a person to go green.

Why is Tria a Restorative Innovation Champion?

Tria follows an elegant way to recycle food waste. TriaBio24 is a food waste recycling program for the fast-paced city. Tria converts food waste which includes solid based waste to compostable foodware that when disposed of, become farm ready fertilizers which is packed with essentials for healthy plant growth. This program looks into the aspects of health and environment.

Another initiative, Triakraft believes everybody should be able to afford eco products. To achieve this it keeps costs lean and pass the savings to its customers making eco packaging accessible to everyone.

9. Ugly Food

UglyFood diverts the leftover fresh produce from food wholesalers, retailers and importers away from the incineration plants and landfills by transforming them into healthy and delectable food products for consumption.

Why is Ugly Food a Restorative Innovation Champion?

The organisation saves food from getting wasted while it is still fresh, cutting down on food waste contribution (this is estimated at 809,800 tonnes in 2017 by National Environment Agency). In a way, it optimises the food supply chain and producing healthy and fresh food end products from it!

Most food waste are incinerated and then landfilled. As most foods have high water content, burning food requires greater amounts of energy then burning general waste.

10. WateROAM

This startup was founded by three NUS undergrads in 2014 at a water initiative program. They’ve reached 14 countries and 35,000 individuals in communities to provide clean filtered water.

The ROAMFilter products are portable (3kg & 43kg), does not require electricity and easy to use anywhere.

Also Read: Are you smarter than a primary school student? Test your knowledge at the e27 Trivia Night!

Why is WateROAM a Restorative Innovation Champion?

Providing clean water and sanitation is one of the 17 SDGs set by UNDP to transform our world. WateROAM, along with its partners has brought aid to poverty and disaster stricken communities to provide for this basic need.

Want to get to know more startups and initiatives surrounding Restorative Innovation?

Join the first ever World Restorative Innovation Forum on the 17th September at INSEAD Asia Campus. You can get your tickets here — https://wrif.peatix.com/

Compiled by Kimmy Paulino & Vaishnav Shankar

Photo by Douglas Sanchez on Unsplash

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