The global winner of the Shell LiveWIRE Top Ten Innovators award, Joytingle, and the 2015 winner of the Singapore Shell LiveWIRE award, WateROAM, were mentioned by the Finance Minister in his speech to parliament, which was broadcast live to the nation.
Joytingle's innovative product, Rabbit Ray, which is used to explain medical procedures and to reduce anxiety among young children undergoing hospital treatments, and WateROAM, which provides portable water filtration systems to provide clean drinking water, were both mentioned by Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat as examples of the types of innovative businesses that will power Singapore's economic future.
The Minister had met both Esther Wang of Joytingle and David Pong of WateROAM at the National University of Singapore's business incubator facility, The Hangar, and was so inspired by the two Shell LiveWIREs that he sought to use them as examples of innovators meeting a human need.
During his speech, the Minister mentioned his visit to The Hangar, and said that he thought the name of the incubator was particularly relevant as 'it is where ideas take flight'.
The Minister continued his budget debate round-up speech by saying, "There, I met people working together to build exciting start-ups. Let me highlight two.
"First, Rabbit Ray. They seek to make a difference for children seeking medical treatment.
"This is Ms Esther Wang, the founder. She designed a patient engagement device in the form of a toy rabbit that explains medical procedures to children in a medically accurate, but relatable and comforting way. For this, Esther won the Shell LiveWIRE Top Ten Innovators Global Award.
"The second example is WateROAM, which seeks to make a difference to those in disaster relief areas in need of clean water. They are a start-up that has developed a portable water filtration system that can turn dirty water into drinkable water, in the same time that you would take to run it from the tap.
"Now why do I highlight these two examples? What struck me about both start-ups is that their innovation started with the aim of meeting a human need.
"In the case of Rabbit Ray, the innovation was less technology than in design, and with a focus on improving the lives of children seeking medical treatment. In fact, Esther is now working on a doll that helps children who have to undergo chemotherapy.
"In the case of WateROAM, it is to meet the need for portable water for residents of disaster-hit zones and in rural areas, in the poorest areas of the world.
"I am very happy to have young people like them who understand that innovation is not just about technology or gizmos. But really about meeting human needs, making the world a better place, and how they can make an impact in the lives of others.”
Commenting on her meeting with the Minister at The Hangar, Esther said, "The Minister recognised Rabbit Ray from the coverage of our success as Global Winner of the Shell LiveWIRE Top Ten Innovators award.
"It was an honour to speak with him, and a memorable moment was when he held Rabbit Ray, turned to his entourage and said that it is a great example that innovation doesn't need to be high tech to succeed.
"I was informed hours after the meeting that Rabbit Ray would be considered for a mention in the budget speech, which was a great surprise as there are many outstanding innovative enterprises in Singapore and to be highlighted in such a high profile way is a rare honour.”
The visual nature of Rabbit Ray enables it to transcend language barriers, literacy levels and race. Since the business started in 2012, the device has been used with over 10,400 children in hospitals across Singapore.
Delighted with her mention in the Minister's speech, Esther said, "This mention recognises Joytingle's innovative approach in Singapore's health education. The Minister emphasised the purpose of innovation is for society's benefit and it is a great honour for Rabbit Ray to be cited as an example.
"Moving forward, Joytingle continues pushing forward for Rabbit Ray to be implemented on a wider scale to benefit more children.”
Explaining the impact that winning the Shell LiveWIRE Top Ten Innovators Global Award has had on her business, Esther said, "Winning the Shell LiveWIRE Top Ten Innovators Global Award is Joytingle's first big break on the international stage. It gained the attention of relevant business partners and customers which otherwise would have taken much longer.
"I'm really grateful to Shell LiveWIRE for enabling Joytingle to reach a bigger stage. For a young company building up its name, it's a privilege to have Shell, a global company, to lend its weight.
"Rabbit Ray was launched in November 2015, and the coverage from the Shell LiveWIRE award helped tremendously. It also enabled Joytingle to stand out as an attractive employer to talented people.”
As a result of the exposure Esther was interviewed for Channel 5's news programme '5 Questions' which focuses on her meteoric entrepreneurial journey so far. The television interview will be broadcast on the 15th of May.
A video of the speech, beginning at the point of Esther’s mention can be viewed, here. Shell LiveWIRE’s article announcing her Top Ten Innovators Award win, and offering more detail on ‘Rabbit Ray’ can be read here. Or, learn more about the Shell LiveWIRE Top Ten Innovators initiative here.