‘Wearable’ artificial kidney wins innovation award in Singapore

  • Battery-operated device weighs only 1kg; provides freedom to patients suffering from end-stage renal disease
  • Outstanding NUS Innovator Award won by Dr Pete Kellock for developing video production software for consumers

‘Wearable’ artificial kidney wins innovation award in SingaporeAWAK Technologies, which has developed what it claims is the world’s first wearable, artificial kidney, won the Promising NUS Startup Award at this year’s Innovation & Enterprise (I&E) Awards.
 
The I&E Awards comprises two categories: The Promising NUS Startup Award and the Outstanding NUS Innovator Award. The awards are presented by NUS Enterprise and The National University of Singapore Society (NUSS).
 
The annual awards, supported by the National Research Foundation’s University Innovation Fund, recognise individuals and companies within the NUS community who have achieved significant accomplishments or contributed towards entrepreneurship and innovation.
 
Set up in 2007, Awak Technologies developed a sorbent-based dialysate regeneration technology platform with licences from and in collaboration with the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and Temasek Polytechnic.
 
It claims its technology can perform more efficient dialysis with minimum fluid. This allows the device to be much smaller and use 90% less peritoneal dialysis fluid than conventional peritoneal dialysis machines.
 
The battery-operated device weighs only 1kg, providing freedom to patients suffering from end-stage renal disease, as they can travel, remain employed and live life as they used to prior to dialysis.
 
Earlier this year, Awak Technologies signed a global strategic partnership agreement with peritoneal dialysis market leader Baxter for the marketing, manufacturing and distribution of its system.
 
“Awak Technologies aims to change the landscape of the kidney dialysis industry by shifting current in-centre dialysis to home-based dialysis that can be performed anywhere, anytime,” said its president and chief executive officer Neo Kok Beng.
 
“It will have a tremendous impact on the quality of life for end-stage renal disease patients. Our platform technology also allows us to support home-based hemodialysis,” he added.
 
Neo is an NUS alumnus and an Adjunct Associate Professor at the NUS Business School and Faculty of Engineering, where he teaches new product development, design thinking, business innovation and technology commercialisation.
 
As the winner of the Promising NUS Start-up Award, AWAK Technologies received a trophy and S$100,000 in prize money.
 
Smart software for video production
 
The Outstanding NUS Innovator Award was won by Dr Pete Kellock from the NUS School of Computing for his contributions in developing a novel video production product targeted at consumers.
 
Kellock, an Adjunct Professor at the NUS School of Computing and mentor at NUS Enterprise, is the lead inventor, co-founder and first CEO of muvee Technologies.
 
From 1999 to 2001, while he was working at Kent Ridge Digital Labs (KRDL), he led the development of the world’s first automatic video production product targeted at consumers. He and his team turned techniques used by video editing professionals into smart software which automates video production.
 
This enables the layman to create superior quality videos in minutes or seconds, compared with hours or days using traditional manual editing software.
 
In 2001, muvee spun off from KRDL, and Kellock moved from being a researcher to a CEO. He and his team established muvee as the pioneer and global leader in the field. The company has licensed its software to global multinationals including Hewlett Packard, Nokia, Nikon and LG, to date shipping hundreds of millions of copies to global markets and generating more than S$50 million in revenue.
 
Kellock is an inventor with some 20 international patents relating to automatic video production. In 2007, he handed the CEO reins over to his co-founder, Terence Swee, so he could pursue other interests, including exploring other areas of digital media and mentoring young entrepreneurs.
 
‘Wearable’ artificial kidney wins innovation award in Singapore“Bringing a radically new product to market is a long journey with lots of tough moments along the way – working 100-hour weeks, facing rooms full of hard-bitten sceptics when you haven't slept in days, dealing with disappointments, failures and mistakes,” said Kellock.
 
“But it's worth it. The feeling of having brought something totally new into the world can be magical. In muvee, we often got emails from delighted users, raving about the fun they had with our product. That always brought a smile to our faces.
 
“And the startup experience creates exceptionally strong bonds in the founding team. In muvee, I had a dream team, not just in terms of competence, creativity and appetite for ridiculously hard work, but in human terms: laughter, warmth and deep friendship,” he added.
 
As the winner of the Outstanding NUS Innovator Award, Kellock received a trophy and S$10,000 in prize money.
 
Inspiring other entrepreneurs
 
“This is the third year running that we have organised the I&E Awards, together with NUSS,” said Professor Wong Poh Kam, director of the NUS Entrepreneurship Centre and co-chair of the I&E Awards Organising Committee.
 
“Previous I&E Awards winners have gone on to make further achievements of their own, including winning international awards, bringing their products into global markets and carrying on cutting-edge research.
 
“This has helped to inspire and motivate other young entrepreneurs and innovators within our NUS community, which is one of the key objectives of the I&E Award,” he added.
 
NUSS president David Ho said, “As the co-organiser of the I&E Awards and with a membership base of more than 15,000 members, NUSS is in a position of strength to promote the Awards to the NUS alumni.
 
“With the I&E Awards as a catalyst, NUSS hopes to contribute towards the development of a progressive society by nurturing and inspiring breakthroughs in the innovation and enterprise landscapes,” he added.
 
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