by Ashley Ow
With increasing awareness of the environment and healthier living, sustainability has been in the minds of many. Therefore, many people are starting to take meaningful steps to improve sustainability and be more eco-friendly. For teams of SIT students at the Mapletree Challenge, sustainability is achieved through innovation.
The Mapletree Challenge has been promoting entrepreneurship, problem-solving, and innovation since 2018 among SIT undergraduates. The third edition of the Mapletree Challenge was themed ‘Improving Our World through Sustainability and Innovation’, which hopes to inspire participants to be innovative entrepreneurs who focus on sustainability.
Between January and May this year, the 120 participants went through face-to-face training, mentorship programmes, and masterclasses to come up with innovative business proposals.
Out of the ten teams of semi-finalists, five teams went on to pitch their ideas at the Mapletree Challenge Grand Finals on 5 May. Two finalist teams – RADnovation and The Gastronauts – emerged as joint champions of the challenge held at Mapletree Business City.
Sustainability at Home: Rehab Solution, Reducing Wastage
Team RADnovation created a physiotherapy rehabilitation device to bring convenience to patients, caretakers, and healthcare workers. This makes it a portable rehabilitation bar that allows for remote tracking.
Team RADnovation consists of six Mechanical Engineering students – Alexander Quah Zhi Wei, Leow Xue Zi Junise, Clair Chia Hui Shi, Willie Goh Jia Wei, Ramasamy Subramaniam and Sng Shan Yu. The team had been working closely with physiotherapists to develop the product, and received positive feedback from both professors and mentors for achieving sustainability through their innovation.
They aim to reduce the hassle of patients having to travel to the rehabilitation centre to carry out their rehabilitation exercises on gym equipment. “These gym equipment tend to be expensive and inaccessible for most patients. But with the Rehab Bar, the only space required is a doorway, which every household already has; narrow corridors work as well. The Rehab Bar can also be mounted onto walls by using a bracket attachment,” says the team’s product specialist and digital marketer, Willie Goh.
The portable rehabilitation device allows the patient to carry out their physiotherapy sessions in the comfort of their own homes. Hence, it is helpful for physiotherapy exercises that target the upper body. With chest press handles, pulley systems, and even a puzzle, the device aims to target different muscle groups of the body for different types of exercises.
A key innovation of the device is the telematic sensors. Motion sensors record the patient’s progress and the data is sent to the physiotherapist via an app to monitor the quality of rehabilitation in real-time. This means that the physiotherapist saves time having to travel, creating more time for him/her to handle multiple patients.
The Gastronauts aims to reduce the carbon footprint in Singapore by recycling used coffee grounds that would otherwise be dumped into landfills. So, they created oyster mushroom growing kits repurposed from used coffee grounds collected from various F&B outlets.
After mixing and incubating the substrate composition, the kits are ready to grow mushrooms after 2-3 weeks. It just needs to be watered 2-3 times a day and positioned in a spot with indirect sunlight. Each kit allows for at least 3 mushroom harvests, yielding roughly 600g of mushrooms in total. The toughest challenge was fine-tuning the formulation of the substrates in each kit, according to the team.
Targeted at young children, Generation Z, and millennials, the team plans to promote sustainability with biodegradable packaged kits. Each kit comes with a fun, engaging activity sheet that would appeal to young children, fun facts, giveaways, and recipes that work well with the mushrooms. They serve as a great innovation to help promote confidence, patience, and responsibility in children and encourage sustainability among the younger generation.
The team consists of five Food Technology students: Rita Tay Ru En, Chua Yuan Shen Raphael, Loh Jia Hao Sean, Lam Yun Jia Nurice, and Tan Yi Shan.
Innovation Through Motion: Promoting Active Mobility
The bronze prize went to BikePass, whose business proposal includes an app to promote active mobility. The team consists of three Computer Engineering students: Ng Hian Hong Aaron, Ong Jun Sheng, and Keith Yeo.
The app features AI machine learning to provide navigation mapping, community-generated data, route tracking and discovery. It also has a marketplace for businesses and individuals to buy and sell bicycles. To encourage active mobility, the app aims to get users to include family and friends to share, plan and manage routes, participate in weekly challenges to earn reward points, and redeem vouchers and incentives.
In line with the Land Transport Master Plan 2040, the team targets casual cyclists, along with regular cyclists who use bicycles as their main commuting option.
Local surveys show that cycling has doubled in popularity: in 2020, 10 per cent of Singapore residents aged 13 and above said they had cycled in the past four weeks, up from 5 per cent in 2019. According to a recent article in The Straits Times, cycling is the third-most popular sport, after walking and jogging.
Sustainability Through Food and Water Innovation
GoldenBitez, a group of Food Technology and Mechanical Design & Manufacturing Engineering students, aims to support local farming and boost Singapore’s food security through local produce. The team consists of Aaron Siow, Rachel Loh, and Benjamin Tay.
The team created sustainable fish fingers that are free from artificial colourings, preservatives, and flavourings. This is because tartrazines, a common food colouring, has been shown in research studies to cause hyperactivity in children. In addition, fish sold commonly in local marketplaces are not deemed sustainable, as some of them are seasonal. Moreover, frozen fish are not a healthy option as they may contain preservatives and artificial colouring.
GoldenBitez aims to support local produce by locally growing African catfish that thrive in Singapore’s humid climate. The team’s greatest challenge in developing the product was the formulation of ingredients in the batter and cooking methods.
The team developed Air Aqua, a water harvesting device that uses solar energy to convert oxygen into water. Leveraging Singapore’s high humidity levels (averaging 70%), the innovation is designed to be installed on electronic displays at bus stops all around the city. It would allow the public to refill distilled water while reducing the use of plastic bottles. This innovation is targeted to preserve Singapore’s own water supply while reducing the high plastic waste, promoting sustainability.
The water vapour within the device goes through a two-step filtration process to eliminate the germs and bacteria present. The device is capable of producing 1,000 litres of water every day from water vapour alone.
The team is made up of Tan Min Er Kelly, Tan Yu Ting Grace, Tyu Ker Yu, Davis Zheng Yang, Ang Pheng Siang and Unicia Goh Ke Xin who hail from various disciplines such as Information Security, Engineering and Hospitality Business.
The joint winners walked away with cash prizes of S$5,000 each. The third placed team and consolation prize winners received S$2,000 and S$1,000, respectively. The winning teams may also receive support to further prototype their ideas and make them come to life.
More innovative ways are needed to help ensure a sustainable future for all of us. Much like the previous edition, this edition of the Mapletree Challenge has inspired students to make meaningful contributions to the world and served as a memorable learning experience for all participants.