EmTech Asia 2017 – A window to an exciting future

EmTech Asia 2017 took place in Singapore last week. Being one of the top tech events in the continent, and being organized by the MIT Technology Review, we had really high expectations. And it didn’t let us down! Innovation and emerging technologies lovers, here you can get a flavour of what happened at the event. Enjoy!


EmTech Asia 2017 - Highlights and best quotes
Credits to EmTech Asia 2017


EmTech Asia 2017 – DAY 1

Day 1 started with a presentation about Smart Cities, or specifically, how to transform Singapore into a Smart City… ops, in a Smart Nation! The biggest challenge? Certainly not tech.

Smart nation’s biggest challenge is not tech… IT’S CHANGING MINDSETS – Khoong Hock Yun, IMDA

Would you like to know more about how Singapore is becoming a Smart Nation? A feature article about it coming very soon!


At the Heart of Innovation: New Materials

The first big session of the day was about how innovation in the field of materials science could have great applications in several fields, like engineering or medicine. Reducing material size to the nanoscale (1 nanometer = 0.000000001 meter, one ten thousandth of our hair diameter!). That’s going to be the trend of the future!


Malleable materials as strong as steel, ceramics that don’t shatter, strong 99.9% air structures… The nanoscale! – Julia Greer, Caltech

Thanks to nanostructured materials we can create drugs that better target tumors, reducing pain and side effects. – Jackie Ying, A*STAR

Materials engineering is the foundation of innovation for the future. – Om Nalamasu, Applied Materials


Julia Greer at EmTech Asia 2017
Credits to EmTech Asia


After Moore’s Law: A New Era for Computing

We all know that computers have an increasing importance in our lives, but not all of us know about the big problem they are facing: the end of Moore’s Law.

What this Law basically says is that the number of transistors in a chip would double every two years, allowing for better and better performance. Well, as you can imagine, this have a limit. And we have already reached it.


And this is not the only problem! You might have already noticed it. You grab a calculator, press 1, divide it by 3 and multiply it again by 3 and… voilà! Not 1 anymore, now it’s 0.9999999 instead. If computers fail in such an easy calculation, imagine what happens when it gets more complex!

Rethinking how computers calculate or even redesigning the processor from scratch… A revolution needs to be started in computing!

Computers don’t make mistakes? Yes, they do. At incredibly high speeds. – John Gustafson, Intel Labs


Computers don't make mistakes
Credits to EmTech Asia


We want to change computing. If we were alive 34 years ago, what would we have done different? – Thomas Sohmers, REX Computing

We were at the conference looking for partners, customers, investors and most people thought we were crazy. – Thomas Sohmers, REX Computing


We had the chance to interview Thomas Sohmers, listed on the Forbes’ 30 under 30 list, and we are glad to announce that REX Computing will be one of the upcoming Startup of the week. What Thomas and his team are doing is really, really impressive. They’re basically challenging the computer industry status-quo!


Thomas Sohmers at EmTech Asia 2017
Thomas Sohmers at EmTech Asia 2017. Credits to EmTech Asia.


Of course, there aren’t only problems in the computer industry! Supercomputers are here, and with 100 Gigabytes per second transcontinental links, they are better connected than ever!


The growth of computing power is the greatest and fastest growth of anything that humanity ever created. – Marek Michalewicz, U. of Warsaw



Along with the increasing importance of computers, an equally important question arises: How secure are these systems? It is crucial to properly address this question, so we better put geniuses to work in cybersecurity. You definitely don’t want your self-driving car to be hacked! Is Quantum Key Distribution the ultimate answer?


When we look for genius to hire, we look either for those with A’s in every course OR with both A’s and F’s. – Walter O’Brien, Scorpion

One employee plugs his cellphone into a USB port and that’s it, they’ve reached all your network security. – Douglas Gardner, Analog Devices

Generating signals using random physical processes, no amount of computing power can predict the outcome. Un-Hackable! – Alex Ling, NUS


Quantum Key Distribution EmTech Asia 2017
Credits to EmTech Asia 2017


Funding Innovation

Innovation is great and it can change our lives. But it needs to be funded. Without funds, even the best idea can’t succeed. Therefore, accelerators and Venture Capital firms are key players in this game. Better listen to what they have to say!

The key of innovation is having people with different backgrounds looking at the same problem. – Vinnie Lauria, Golden Gate Ventures

Key factors for an accelerator to succeed: sustainability, high selectivity and capital. – Sean O’Sullivan, SOSV


At this point, a very special guest walked up to the stage. Listed in the Forbes list of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women, Jenny Lee is one of the most respected investors in the Chinese tech scene.

If you are thinking about founding a startup, grab a pen and a piece of paper and take some notes, these are the top 3 skills Jenny Lee thinks a successful startup founder should have:

  • Ability to navigate the challenges, ability to keep going.
  • Ability to understand consumers’ behaviour.
  • Charisma, ability to bring a team together and attract investors.


2017 is the 10th anniversary of the iPhone… and it hasn’t changed! It takes 10 years for a disruption to happen. – Jenny Lee, GGV Capital


Jenny Lee EmTech Asia 2017
Jenny Lee at EmTech Asia 2017. Credits to EmTech Asia


Virtual Reality, Augmented Life

The last session of the day was dedicated to raise awareness of the wide range of new options that Virtual Reality has to offer. From examining mummies without unfolding them to sending smells and flavours through the Internet! How cool is that? Have a look at these talks about 3D visualization and multisensory communication to see why we are so excited.


Virtual autopsies in just a few seconds? Possible using maths to visualize 3D structures. – Anders Ynnerman, Norrköping Visualization Center

Communication with all of our senses, that’s the future of the Internet. – Adrian Cheok, Imagineering Institute


3D Visualization EmTech Asia 2017
Credits to EmTech Asia


Kissenger EmTech Asia 2017
Credits to EmTech Asia


Meet the Innovators Under 35

Not only were there big sessions about different topics (materials, computing, cybersecurity, funding and VR) in EmTech Asia. Another important part of the event was the recognition to young talents (researchers or entrepreneurs) who are helping build the next generation of innovation.

Ten Innovators Under 35 were able to deliver a 3 minutes elevator pitch throughout the 2 days. From Ambitious Tracks we wish them the best of luck in their projects!


Honourees Innovators Under 35
Credits to EmTech Asia 2017


Why are we not doing it? The answer is COURAGE. Do we have the courage to take risk? – Steve Leonard, SGInnovate

We need to think about people rather than technology, reframe our thinking to think about the human first. – Paul Daugherty, Accenture


And that’s the end of Day 1!


EmTech Asia 2017 – DAY 2


Brave new (Bio-Engineered) World

Being able to work directly on single genes or atoms would certainly revolutionize biology. Thanks to technologies like CRISPR or Cryo-EM. This is not a dream anymore!


If we could precisely edit genes we could eliminate genetic diseases. That’s the potential of CRISPR technology. – Le Cong, Broad Institute

Near-atomic resolution structures can be now obtained. Cryo-EM is revolutionizing structural biology! – Daniela Rhodes, NTU


Bio-engineered world
Credits to EmTech Asia


Artificial Intelligence and Robotics

Robots are here, they finally came. But most of them are programmed to just perform mechanical, repetitive activities. This is changing, Artificial Intelligence combined with Deep learning allows robots to think and make decisions by themselves. So exciting and scary at the same time!

Deep learning supercomputers used in self-driving cars perform 20 trillion floating points operations per second. – Marc Hamilton, NVIDIA

How did we go from 4% to 92% market share in a year? Domino effect: “This guy is using it, I’ll use it as well”. – Samay Kohli, GreyOrange


Yes, 92% market share of India’s warehouse automation market. Impressive, isn’t it? You’ll have the chance to know more about it soon, since GreyOrange will be our next Startup or the week!


Loomo at EmTech Asia 2017
Credits to EmTech Asia


Space 4.0: A New Era for Space Exploration

And here comes the last topic of the event: Space. Or more precisely, how to solve two of the main problems we are currently facing up there: the amount of trash (debris) orbiting the Earth and the saturation of satellites’ communication capacity. Are lasers the solution?

Before 1957 only the Moon was orbiting the Earth. Now there are 100,000+ objects. And they can cause damage. – Matthew Bold, Lockheed Martin

We are trying to do in space with lasers what fiber optics has done down here. – Rohit Jaha, Transcelestial


Sketchwall EmTech Asia 2017
Credits to EmTech Asia


The venue: Singapore

A great event such as EmTech Asia deserves an equally great venue. And they made a good choice. Here you have some pics of Singapore. We’ll definitely miss this city!


Singapore daytime


Singapore night


Marina Bay night

So those were the EmTech Asia 2017 highlights and best quotes. What are the most powerful quotes to you? We’d love to hear your opinion!

If you want to know about future start-up/tech events like this one, drop your email below! We’ll be covering a loooot of them during these months! 😉


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Borja Bonet

Hi! I'm Borja, and I'm so glad to be a part of this project and to be sharing ideas and experiences with all of you! Let's do it together! Welcome to Ambitious Tracks!

5 thoughts on “EmTech Asia 2017 – A window to an exciting future

  • Pingback: GreyOrange. Robots to Reinvent the Way Warehouses Operate - AMBITIOUS TRACKS

  • February 27, 2017 at 3:47 am

    “Smart nation’s biggest challenge is not tech… IT’S CHANGING MINDSETS ”

    Borja, that quote totally describes what start ups are. Changing our mindset for better products and how things operates. It must have been so fun listening to different speakers and getting lots of ideas on what products are on the way. Great article.

    I hope someday I could finally meet the other half of Ambitious Tracks. By the way, your article of Brunei was a great way and helped out a lot before I went there. And most of all that Vietnam in 15 days had given me some good tips when I was there.

    Kudos and more power to Ambitious Tracks.

    • February 27, 2017 at 7:52 am

      Thank you jmaxnow! Undoubtedly it was the perfect sentence to start the conference! I agree with you, it’s not only Smart nation’s biggest challenge, but it applies to almost every field. Oh yes, it was awesome to listen to all of the speakers, so inspiring!

      Haha, who knows, maybe we have the chance to meet each other very soon! 🙂 Thank you very much for your kind words, I’m so glad the articles were helpful for your travel planning. That’s the best motivation to keep working on them! 😀

  • Pingback: AIME - Artificial Intelligence in Medical Epidemiology. Start-up of the week. - AMBITIOUS TRACKS

  • Pingback: Rex Computing. Making Power Efficient chips. Intel... WATCH OUT!

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