Pivoting into new frontiers: The SHELL IdeaRefinery 2018

Earlier this month, SHELL IdeaRefinery held its Demo Day programme at Marina Bay Sands, seeing five diverse finalist startups pitch their innovations to SHELL, industry leaders as well as energy enthusiasts.

For those who are unfamiliar, SHELL IdeaRefinery is an accelerator programme that aims to testbed and potentially commercialise digital and clean energy solutions relevant to Singapore.

Pivoting into new frontiers: SHELL IdeaRefinery 2018

The journey started with 29 mature startups from the Singapore ecosystem exploring pivots to serve the exciting energy space. 10 of these startups were then selected to work closely with Shell, energy innovation company EnRupt and industry mentors for over two months to refine their business models and address problems within the energy sector with the final five presenting their innovations on Demo Day.

Startup2Life was part of the delivery team, doing what we do best – mentoring and coaching the startups throughout the journey.

The event started off with an opening address by Emily Tan, the General Manager of Shell. She spoke about the benefits of collaboration between a nimble startup with cash flow challenges and cash abundant corporations.  She also gave examples of past launch startups who have benefited from IdeaRefinery. We’re sure that the five startups pitching have already immensely benefited from the programme as well!

Founder of EnRupt and also emceeing for the night, Katarina Uherova Hasbani, kicked off the pitch process by introducing the first startup – AVA Asia.

A Safe and Cleaner world to reduce safety risk of maintenance and operation crew

CEO Wei Yik of AVA Asia got our attention immediately when he mentioned “flying drones” and “artificial intelligence” in his first pitch line! AVA Asia aims to revolutionize solar PV plants by leveraging on autonomous drones and AI.

By integrating data from solar PV plants and their autonomous flying drones, they can perform AI analytics to predict which part of the pipeline will be corroded. This way, manual work of inspecting every inch of the pipes for construction can be reduced, effectively saving time and improving inspection processes.

An integral part of every startup pitch, Wei Yik also spoke about the company’s business model and how it is easy to implement and is highly scalable before ending off his pitch by reiterating their mission for a “safe and cleaner world, to reduce safety risk of maintenance and operations crew”.

“Complexity in constant action.”

Chektec, a SaaS startup that digitises safety, health and environment inspection forms, was the second to pitch for the night. CEO Yvonne Foong started off her pitch with the hard facts style  – 2.78 million die every year from workplace-related incidents, and 374 million suffer from non-fatal work-related injuries yearly. Every incident requires paperwork, and being in a dynamic and labour-intensive workplace means that paper forms and checks are often incomplete, inefficient, and ineffective.

Chektec not only digitises the forms but captures data insights in real time as well as numerous variations of workflow for sharing.

Yvonne shared that pivoting into energy was only “natural”. We believe we speak for everyone when we say welcome onboard to the energy space!

“The world’s most advanced smart glass.”

NODIS was up next with their extremely innovative product – TruTint carbon neutral smart glass for windows to increase energy efficiency in buildings.

NODIS brought us through how the ins and outs of their innovative product, which is equipped with colour changing and tinting properties, infrared heating control, and glare reduction – all in real time! We also had a chance to see their productization and use cases.

We were also blown away when they mentioned the team behind the scenes – an extremely capable group equipped with scientific knowledge (a Ph.D. in Physics, anyone?) as well as solid business acumen.

“When will lithium run out?”

Dalston Pung, COO of QIQ posed a question to start off his pitch – “When will lithium run out?”

(The answer to that was 350 years, and none of us got it right.)

QIQ leverages on blockchain technology in order to “increase electric mobility” and build the world’s largest Green Transportation System for everyone.

Dalston stressed the huge need for shared transportation especially with the increasing global population, and showed how solving transportation issues are “central to improving efforts in the energy sphere”. This is in line with QIQ’s innovations such as their 100% biodegradable Energy Storage Systems -making even their disposal green!

They ended off their pitch with a video to show how their products are used around the world, getting everyone excited – we can’t wait for green transportation systems to serve our community!

Aggregated Shipping for reduced carbon footprint.

The last pitch of Demo Day was by ShipsFocus and their innovative aggregated shipping solution! Chief Operating Officer James Kim led us through their brand goals: to reduce freight cost, improve ship earnings and to cut carbon footprint before deep diving into their product – a blockchain-enabled DataVault that standardises and secures the sharing of data.

We were really impressed by the impressive energy-saving innovation in a traditionally capital-intensive maritime shipping industry and are really excited to see ShipsFocus move forward with this solution.

Questions, questions, questions!

After the startups pitched their heart out, it was time to open up questions to the floor. Questions ranged from product-specific to consumer-centric, and picked the minds of both startups and the attendees!

We particularly enjoyed the discussions and answers to one question posed to the all the startups – “What are you hoping to get out of the programme with SHELL?”

The finalist startups mentioned that the IdeaRefinery programme helped them to hear more of the pain points from the ground level and try to solve them through collaborative efforts and feedback.

They also commended the structure of IdeaRefinery, and that there are “lots of effort from management to help startups understand the problems of such a large market – the energy sector”. When one audience member questioned how much of a pivot it really has made, Dalston from QIQ summed it up best by saying: “Pivot is one of the ways to put it, but it also unlocked a lot of the potential that we have and did not see.”

Closing thoughts

We really enjoyed our time at Demo Day and we couldn’t be any prouder of all the startups! Despite the challenges of pivoting into an unfamiliar energy space for some, their innovative solutions were still aplenty.

Special thanks to Shell and EnRupt for putting together the IdeaRefinery programme. It was an honour being part of the delivery team!

See you for the next edition of SHELL IdeaRefinery!

Written by

Asyikin Latiff
Startup2Life Intern