La Frenchtech Singapore is very proud to partner with Hello Tomorrow again this year (If you’re in a hurry, you can register with a discount at the end of this post).
Hello Tomorrow is a global non-profit on a mission to unlock the potential of deep-technologies to help solve some of the world’s toughest challenges.
Now, that’s a bit daunting, right ? So we sat down with Ernest Xue to know more about it. Ready?
Welcome Ernest. First tell us a bit about yourself?
I run a venture building company called Slate Alt, where we try to help advanced technology companies build new businesses. We cover multiple verticals including biotech, foodtech, sensors and others.
I have a finance background, in macroeconomics. I have always been very interested in the ecology of things.
At some point I was running a CVC in collaboration with the National Research Foundation in Singapore and I realized that many of the opportunities (especially in the digital space), were looking at solving increasingly contrived problems . I was a little frustrated by that so I started to look for more scientific, technical teams working on more impactful challenges and encouraged them to bridge gaps and launch new businesses.
When I came across the Hello Tomorrow team we both realized we had similar visions and interests so it was an easy decision to help them launch in Singapore last year. The way the community has gathered around it looked like a good fit to me, and the timing was perfect.
What is the motivation behind Hello Tomorrow?
A lot of the most exciting innovations we seek to support tend to sit at the intersection of disciplines. An example would be computational biology, a hybrid discipline that bridges AI and biology.
Hello Tomorrow seeks to help the most promising innovations go to market in order for them to make an impact.
In the developed world, research infrastructure is strong, but high existing standards of living means that the challenges being worked on by scientists might be less obvious to the common man – e.g. manufacturing processes, development of industrial chemicals, remote maintenance of industrial systems etc.
In the developing world, problems are much more tangible, but infrastructure and resources for research tends to be extremely low. Researchers usually have solutions in mind but not a lot of resources, and the broader ecosystem have resources but focus on partial, point solutions that might not be marketable. Bridging this gap is one of the motivations of Hello Tomorrow here.
Hello Tomorrow Singapore covers all of Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
It’s a pretty big mission. How do you concretely execute on it?
I think every organization needs a large vision statement. For Hello Tomorrow it is about “Unlocking the power of deep technologies to solve the world’s most pressing challenges”. Depending on the local context, the work done in service to this larger vision will differ.
We hold the regional Summit in Singapore -this is our second edition- and we hold workshops in other countries in the region. The support that is needed for local scientific entrepreneurs and research can be quite different from country to country. We are still learning how to best leverage our resources and network to provide support effectively.
Beyond the bridges we’re trying to build, our goal is to build a community members know they can turn to for answers.
Scientific conferences are typically organized in silos, by topics. But today we need to make connections faster. We can’t wait any longer!
We want to go beyond fintech, e-commerce or logistics -there are real issues, but not our game. Within Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and Taiwan, we focus more on food & agriculture, energy transition, healthcare and industrial process.
What does the team look like?
We are 17 people in Singapore now and we are all volunteers. Half of us are scientists while others have support roles (lawyers, etc.) . Additionally, we have Curators in Thailand, Hong-Kong, the Philippines and Vietnam.
Beyond organizing the summit and workshops, the whole team is here to support and connect the community.
What are the big themes of the event this year?
We have 14 tracks – Food & Agriculture, Energy, Environment, Industry 4,0, Mobility, New Space, Medical Biotech, Medical Devices & Digital Health, Drug Discovery, Industrial Biotech, Aeronautics, Cybersecurity & Communication ,Advanced Computing & AI and Smart Cities.
We have structured these under 3 main themes, which intersect to form a holistic perspective of the world we live in and challenges that we face.
To give you a few numbers, last year we 500 people for the first edition and this year we aim for 1000. We have more than 30 exhibiting startups, with our former alumni being there as well. We have an incredible lineup of 40 speakers from very different backgrounds.
What are specific challenges you face achieving this mission?
The first one is about relationships.
It has to do with the complexity of relationships. We need to develop a proper understanding of not just what the issues are that they are trying to solve, but who would be the right user of the technology.
We usually confuse the people who would pay for it with the people who would use it.
Big problems are usually worked on by big organizations which are by nature complex. The decision making process requires alignment across multiple stakeholders so as an innovator seeking buy in, the question is how do you connect all these points.
The second challenge is education.
We need to have a better grasp of both our expertise as well as adjacent disciplines. We live in a complex world and we need to embrace complexity. The trouble is that education systems globally are not designed for this. They usually exposed us to individual topics, whereas today we must approach the problem first and build up the ecology of knowledge needed to develop a solution for the problem.
A final word for our readers?
I hope the Hello Tomorrow Summit will help the participants take this leap, bridge disciplines and think broad and not only deep.
We naturally like doing things they’re good at but we need to think beyond the traditional verticals we are naturally familiar with.
As a partner, la Frenchtech Singapore has 10 discounted seats for the event. Register here with the code HTEGUEST339 to claim an admin-fee only pass.
We will be covering the event with podcast interviews for the Frenchtech Media. See you there!