NUS start-ups doing good for COVID-19: Helping Individuals and Businesses

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StaffAny’s CICO (Clock-In, Clock-Out) app being used by one of its clients and an NOC Alum start-up, Foreword Coffee.

In Part 4 of this series, we feature Savioke, 2359 Media, Oddle, StaffAny, Trakomatic, Seventh Sense AI,, Park N Parcel and Viddsee as they support businesses and individuals through this pandemic.

Supporting the frontliners

Easing manpower constraints in medical facilities

A start-up that is combating the pandemic using AI is BLOCK71 Singapore incubatee, Savioke. Of late, its delivery robot has risen in popularity with double the number of enquiries about it amidst the pandemic. Many of these robots have already been placed at hospitals worldwide, easing the workload of medical staffers and reducing their risk of exposure.

Keeping frontliners safe and comfortable

In collaboration with SingHealth and the Integrated Health Information System (IHiS), 2359 Media, an NOC alum company, has developed the MyCare application to help with patient care in isolation wards, some of which are currently used to house those with COVID-19. The application stores patients’ medical information for easy accessibility and includes an interactive messaging function for patients to input requests like those for food and drinks, medication and housekeeping services. This system enables medical staff to reduce unnecessary contact with COVID-19 carrier patients while allowing the latter to maintain interactions with the former, albeit virtually. MyCare is already in use at Singapore General Hospital (SGH).

Supporting the business community

Businesses helping businesses

Apart from its usual marketing support, Oddle, an online ordering platform and NOC start-up, has taken it upon itself to help its F&B clients thrive better given the circumstances. Oddle does so via helping to coordinate logistics, providing guidance on service recovery and offering advice in terms of data management and recommended platform settings. Today, it is no longer sufficient for F&B retailers to swiftly move operations onto an online marketplace if they are unable to differentiate themselves from the crowd of competitors there. Compared to other delivery sites, Oddle permits its clients to white-label their own delivery pages and is therefore better able to effectively help its clientele stand out. The recent 15% increase in Oddle’s sign-ups is a clear testament to its potential to help the F&B market tide through these challenging times.

StaffAny, an NOC alum start-up and BLOCK71 Singapore incubatee, is also helping fellow businesses get on. Through the launch of its mobile app, CICO (Clock-In, Clock-Out) Global, the workforce management tech start-up is helping companies in the Asia Pacific region re-open safely and efficiently as lockdowns are gradually lifted. This app is specifically useful for businesses that require the recording of staff attendance.

StaffAny had initially launched CICO in Singapore and waived off the subscription fee for all local businesses, to help them comply with post-circuit breaker measures which could be time-consuming. These measures include employees having to check-in multiple times and submit separate health declarations upon reaching work — once for SafeEntry, the national visitor tracing system, and another time for the company’s own use. CICO reduces this hassle with a single check-in system for company use that is integrated with SafeEntry’s workflow. The app is contactless and fitting for safe-distancing as managers can verify staff attendance in multiple locations/branches without visiting. It is also effective for contact-tracing and facilitating staggered work hours. After having CICO adopted by over 200 business locations in Singapore, StaffAny has enhanced it to CICO Global for the APAC region, where companies can use the app for free till the year-end if they manage to sign up by 31 July.

Using AI to facilitate safe distancing

Reinforcing Singapore’s safe distancing measures for businesses is Trakomatic, a former BLOCK71 Singapore incubatee and NUS alum start-up, with its new video analytics solutions for real-time crowd occupancy tracking and thermal facial recognition. As per recent government legislation on the occupancy of public spaces, malls and retail outlets require a mechanism to efficiently and correctly track the number of people within the premises at any one point in time. This is where Trakomatic comes in, with its real-time crowd occupancy tracking system. In addition to this, the company has also introduced The Intelligent Face Recognition system with in-built thermal tracking capabilities, that can identify individuals with abnormal temperatures accurately, without physical contact and additional manpower. With a facial recognition system that is as fast as 0.3 seconds and an automated temperature tracking that is almost perfectly identical to temperature recordings done face-to-face, this measure helps to enhance checks at door-access points of malls and companies, keeping the premises safe and in adherence of nation-wide regulation. It also helps in attendance taking as it automatically checks visitors in and out on SafeEntry.

Another solution helping to facilitate safe distancing is the AI-driven Facial Recognition Fever Detection solution, that is developed for Singtel by Seventh Sense AI, an NOC alum company and BLOCK71 Singapore incubatee. This facial recognition and thermal camera processing technology allows for public places like malls to do away with the need for manual screenings. The technological solution can also be positioned at crowded locations like healthcare facilities and educational institutes and is linked to the ‘SafeEntry’ system. Unlike conventional technology, the system can also provide a real-time aggregated people-count at entry/exit points. These analytics on building occupancy are helpful to prompt retailers to promote social distancing and/or limit the number of entrants. Clearly, this product comes at an opportune time given Singapore’s gradual re-opening of schools and retail spaces., a BLOCK71 Singapore incubatee, has revised its existing voice bot to better assist with the current situation. The bot can converse in English, Singlish, Chinese and Bahasa Indonesia and is also attuned to English spoken in different accents. This bot is different as it can respond and hold a human-like conversation, unlike other voice bots that are largely automated and non-conversational. It permits company employees to maintain social distancing with clients and relieves manpower constraints. The versatility of the bot enables its use in the sectors of healthcare, banking and finance, backend call centres and front-desk customer service. Apart from its adoption commercially, the bot is also being considered by local authorities to help check-in on those serving their Stay Home Notices. Being attuned to English that is spoken in different slangs also allows for effective check-ins with migrant workers in their dormitories. Additionally, the bot does not require the accompaniment of a mobile app, thus taking into consideration the needs of those who are not tech-savvy. It certainly seems that Wiz’s voice bot has covered most of its bases and is apt to deal with today’s circumstances where contactless customer handling is imperative.

‘Mentor For Hope’ — A region-wide start-up mentoring campaign

After all, as the economy is gradually re-opening, it is even more important for companies to stand in unison to ease the transition back to business-as-usual. In order to collectively help the SME landscape, venture firms, accelerators, incubators like BLOCK71 and other members of the start-up community in Southeast Asia have banned together to support ‘Mentor For Hope,’ a first-of-a-kind month-long mentoring and charity fundraising campaign. This initiative pulls together industry leaders to coach and guide start-ups affected by the pandemic, and concurrently raises funds to be donated to charities in need. Registered start-up founders will receive a care package worth SGD 500, inclusive of a one-hour mentoring session, free virtual coaching group classes led by professional experts and a two-month access to VentureCap Insights, an online venture investment database. These start-ups, as well as the public, are encouraged to donate throughout the course of the campaign and the proceeds will be directed to two non-profit beneficiaries; Beyond Social Services and Willing Hearts Soup Kitchen.

What better way to protect start-ups from a pandemic that knows no national boundaries, than by having the region-wide start-up community rally together in solidarity?

Making #quarantine life slightly more bearable

Due to safe distancing measures, Park N Parcel, a former BLOCK71 Singapore incubatee that provides delivery service between designated drop-off and pick-up points, is left with only 10% of these points being publicly accessible. This necessitated the start-up to pivot their solution to last-mile deliveries instead. Now, Park N Parcel delivers goods to the customer’s doorstep, aptly manoeuvring around the supply chain disruptions brought on by COVID-19. The start-up is also helping with delivery for fellow businesses overwhelmed by the influx of online orders, like Unilever and Nature’s Farm and Charles & Keith.

Helping keep spirits up is the StoriesTogether initiative by Viddsee, a video entertainment platform and NOC alum start-up. Despite having some of their events cancelled, Viddsee remained optimistic and launched this initiative to help others do the same. Amassing its community of content-creators, partners and viewers, StoriesTogether features a myriad of activities including watch parties, live virtual discussions on Instagram and film screenings. Viddsee sure knows how to inject the much-needed dose of hope as stay-home fatigue slowly starts to kick in.

Read the other articles in this series:

For a complete list of the NUS Enterprise and NUS Industry Liaison Office start-ups fighting COVID-19, refer to our website.

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NUS Enterprise nurtures entrepreneurial talents with global mindsets, while advancing innovation and entrepreneurship at Asia’s leading university.

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