Seconded A*Star scientist helps start-up firm to Get-Up and go

Seconded A*Star scientist helps start-up firm to Get-Up and go

Three years ago, Dr Gideon Ho wanted to develop a prototype for a laser-based imaging system that would help clinicians and pathologists to diagnose diseases - but he needed help.

Instead of trying to hire a costly expert to join his start-up firm, he applied to the Government's Get-Up programme.

Within nine months, a scientist from the national Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) was seconded to his company, Histoindex, to help him achieve his goal.

Launched in 2003, Get-Up is a multi-agency programme that aims to upgrade small and medium enterprises' technologies and improve their competitiveness.

It turns 10 this year and has helped some 500 firms, A*Star said on Tuesday in a briefing.

These companies hosted scientists on stints of up to two years or received help from advisers.

Enterprise development agency Spring Singapore funds part of the seconded scientists' salaries and other costs.

Dr Ho, 36, said the programme is useful for small start-up firms, which often have difficulty hiring experts due to their limited funds and fledgling nature.

Spring Singapore chief executive Tan Kai Hoe said some firms require only specific, short-term expertise, for example, during a particular phase of their products' development.

"This scheme allows researchers and companies to be matched for a period of time for a few purposes. It is a more efficient way of using scarce, high-end talent."

A*Star on Tuesday also announced this year's three T-Up Excellence Award winners. The award and $1,000 cash prize are given to seconded scientists who made outstanding contributions to the firms.

The winners - all from A*Star - are Dr Eu Zhi Ang, 32, Dr Li Hao, 34, and Dr Sandor Nemeth. A*Star added that between last September and December, the NUS Entrepreneurship Centre surveyed 145 companies which had joined the Get-Up programme.

It found that many companies launched new products with the programme's help, and their annual growth in sales revenue also improved by an average of 7 per cent after the secondments. 

zengkun@sph.com.sg


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