The Institute - September 2021 - 68
When the three engineers met, Lim was
chief executive of Edge Neo, a company
in Singapore he launched in 2015 after
earning a bachelor's degree in banking
and finance from Singapore Polytechnic.
The company provides encryption
algorithms for blockchain technology to
clients across Southeast Asia.
Leong and Foo were both working
at Singapore's Agency for Science,
Technology, and Research, developing
robotic solutions for multinational
companies, and had spent countless
hours programming and integrating
The trio launched Augmentus in
Launching at the start of the
COVID-19 pandemic presented some
challenges, Lim says. It became difficult
to give prospective clients physical
demonstrations and hands-on experience
with the company's product.
Instead, the startup conducted virtual
demonstrations that involved product
videos and Zoom information sessions.
But the pandemic also has brought
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the startup several clients from
different industries. A handful of
large medical companies are interested
in automating processes such
as pipetting, which involves moving
small, precise volumes of liquid using
narrow tubes. There also has been
a growing demand from large agricultural
companies, as well as small
urban farmers, who want to automate
processes such as crop harvesting and
" The concern with agriculture in
developed countries is always manpower
and labor shortages, " Lim says.
But what of the concern that automation
and AI will take away jobs?
That is true to some extent, Lim says,
but at the current pace of development,
the scenario of robots replacing
humans in most occupations is still
distant. Besides, he says, AI also can
Although conventional wisdom is
that the new AI economy will generate
jobs that require high technical skills,
Augmentus's technology can level the
field for nontech workers who can
program robots, Lim says.
That would help countries retain
manufacturing jobs instead of
outsourcing them to places with less
expensive labor, he says.
" Robotic manufacturing paves the
way for reshoring of jobs and increasing
employee productivity, " he says.
Lim says winning the entrepreneurship
award is " incredibly humbling
and validates the work we have been
doing so far. "
IEEE has been a great avenue to
meet like-minded companies and
people, he says.
" Being part of a unique ecosystem
of entrepreneurs and engineers, "
he says, " IEEE provides invaluable
connections across the globe. "
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