Prototypical is a prototyping journey organised by Audacity, JTC Corporation and Singapore Polytechnic. The journey kicked off with design thinking workshops where participants got to work with like-minded innovators and industry experts to polish their ideas, in order to prepare for their first pitch challenge on 5 February. Selected participants will get to continue on to the next stage where they will be learning how to BUILD their first prototype. I had the opportunity to co-facilitate and mentor for their design thinking workshop; this article shares key takeaways and insights from participants, mentors, facilitators and organisers.
Recap: Design Thinking Workshop (16 & 23 Jan 2021)
Led by User Experience Centre (UXC), Singapore Polytechnic’s design and innovation consultancy, participants were introduced to divergent and convergent approaches to create human-centred innovation. It was great to see participants inspired by other fellow innovators, despite working on very different ideas. The hands-on design thinking processes coupled with support provided by industry mentors helped participants step out of their comfort zone. For example, on the first day, members were intentionally split up from their teams to form groups with other participants. This helped participants gain new perspectives and widened their scope of thinking by helping one another think out of the box. It is these moments of interventions that pushes possibilities and also reinforces the program’s intention of building a supportive ecosystem among innovators.
“I was very impressed by the positive energy. Participants were very open to meeting new people despite having signed up for it with their friends. They were also very engaged and participative during the sessions.”Yee Shuen Hwee, Organising Committee, Audacity
“Breaking down the pain point starting from the user’s perspective was a valuable process as it helped participants get better clarity on what problem their product is actually solving for.”Yang En, Mentor, JTC Corporation.
A key objective for the participants was to truly understand who they are designing for and why. Activities over the two days emphasised importance of the user. From creating point of view statements, to crafting personas and using emotional design, participants were nudged to envision how the solution connects with the target audience beyond its face value. These exercises enabled participants to identify who their users are and their underlying motivations instead of creating for the sake of creating something.
Meeting other fellow innovators also makes their innovation journey a much less lonely one. Majority shared that they enjoyed building on everyone’s ideas because not only did they gain new perspectives, they were also able to help others think outside the box or provide more valuable feedback based on their expertise.
“It was heartening and encouraging to see so many passionate youths, enthusiastic about creating a better and more inclusive future. They have also demonstrated how diversity brings fantastic ideas.”Yina Chua, Organising Committee, Singapore Polytechnic
“This format is useful in matchmaking technologists to entrepreneurs, as the people I interacted with were trying to innovate from the tech side or the commerce side, but seldom from both.”Shu Rui, Mentor, Architectural Strategist of M+
In day 2, participants were back with their original groups to further refine their ideas. With SCAMPER, teams were pushed further to see beyond their existing product use case for other potential opportunities. A storyboarding exercise was also introduced to help teams visualise their presentation and fine tune the value of their idea.
“It was invigorating to witness dynamic cross-pollination among the diverse pool of participants, where they were challenged to break down and re-think their ideas.“Jayden Ong, Mentor, Chief Farming Officer of SLICE
Involving industry mentors in the workshop was a great idea as participants had enough time to build rapport with one another and get more personal advice. Aaron Yeoh, founder of Fortitude Culina and Cycle without Age, Singapore, shared that to be truly inclusive, we must co-design with people from underserved community or the community benefiting from a solution themselves. He also cautions the danger of ‘falling in love’ with an idea. “It is common for entrepreneurs to fall in love with their idea so much so that they become stubborn or forget to understand the cultural aspect of things and how feasible it is for market adoption. While everything starts with a wild idea, be open to reality and tone down for market adoption,” quipped Aaron.
The two-day design thinking workshop closed with some thoughtful advice from Temasek Foundation’s Anders Soh, who joined us as an industry mentor. He shared that there are three key areas (i.e. Team, Technology and Traction) that venture capitalists and investors usually look out for in a start-up. For example, it is important to consider how the different personalities and expertise of members in a team complement one another in order to take the start-up further. A hard-to-replicate technology or innovative business model is also desirable. To maximise traction, how large your target market is will determine profitability and impact.
“I believe that everyone here (Prototypical) has the passion to make an impact. Temasek Foundation focuses on solving liveability and sustainability issues. We support game changing translational research in the pre commercialisation stage. I hope some of your ideas here do get to that stage and eventually reach the market.”Anders Soh, Mentor, Temasek Foundation
After two days of exciting hair pulling moments from redefining, reframing and pivoting their ideas, participants showed great progress from the first time they shared their elevator pitch on day 1. The workshop ended with a mentor critique session where teams were given additional suggestions and considerations on how they can fine tune their idea. All in all, participants have been nothing but inspiring, and have certainly set the tone for a great journey to #inventingourfuture.
On this note, we look forward to seeing participants again at their final pitch challenge. Selected teams will proceed to BUILD Stage where they can get access to maker tools, equipment and continued mentorship/consultation sessions with industry professionals. More details below!
“It feels great to see so many people coming together to ideate solutions for real world problems from such diverse backgrounds and age range.”Shane Kelly, Mentor, Lead Orchestrator of Microfactory
“What a dynamic mix of young energy and radical world changing ideas!”Jeremy Sim, Creative Director, Mistletoe
The energy from when participants arrived to engaging with other peers or mentors, sharing their ideas freely really set the tone for how we envisioned Prototypical to be. What looked most promising to me, was that they were able to reshape their proposals based on the feedback received within a short session… showing their ability to adapt and pivot.Chua Siew Tzi, Organising Committee, JTC Corporation
LIVE Pitch Challenge (5 Feb 2021)
After 3 weeks of fine tuning their ideas, teams were challenged to a 3-min pitch challenge. Joining them are also shortlisted teams from GarageEEE IdeasJam and Youth Action Challenge. Watch the live stream here:
3aaam – Interactive architectural installations that facilitates community bonding and restful experiences for individuals.
Aim for cleanliness – Toilet guidance system that helps maintain high hygiene and sanitation standards in public toilets.
Be My Guide – Assistive technology that generates real-time tactile maps using lidar sensors to support the visually impaired in navigating independently through unfamiliar terrain.
Blank.B – Mobile application that facilitates productivity management using proven strategies.
BubbleGreen – BubbleGreen seeks to harness the power of nano-bubbles for agriculture by making it accessible to the masses.
Dewdrop – Water system that directs wasted air-conditioner condensate towards household water needs.
Masked Coder – Social wellness platform that incentivises individuals to engage in wellness and fitness activities.
Modular + – Next-generation modular structures and components that are deployable across different buildings.
Multi + – Specially-designed kitchenware for an inclusive kitchen.
Navigators – Audio feedback system that detects traffic light signals to support the visually impaired in navigating safely along road crossings.
Nyawa – Manufacturing eco-friendly biodegradable packaging material whilst simultaneously creating livelihoods for locals in Malaysia.
Piezo Lads – Piezoelectric devices that harnesses wasted train-track energy to power signalling systems and track lightings in tunnels.
Sortxt – Recycling bin system that sorts wasted textile to facilitate upcycling of textiles.
Sourced – Integrated digitalised hydroponics system that monitors the health of home produce.
Spatial Tectonics – Rapidly deployable structures that allow customisability across different communities.
Swastek – Affordable and non-intrusive in-ear wearable that facilitates health monitoring.
XDSS – Digital tool tray for aircraft engineers that organises and accounts for inventory.
Yolo – Smart cushion that detects and corrects posture for a better, healthier life.
superFARM – Modular & upgradable home hydroponic system that looks towards Singapore’s food security.
10 teams move on to BUILD stage (23 Feb 2021)
After an intensive deliberation amongst judges and a round of voting, 10 teams have been selected to join the next phase where they will be building their very first prototype!
Over the course of two months, teams will learn how to use tools such as 3D printers, laser cutters and CNC machines from experienced makers at either FabLab Singapore Polytechnic or mFac at Audacity Innovators’ Playground. Industry mentors, some of which who have built their own prototypes themselves will also be working alongside teams as they prepare for their showcase at Singapore’s first Prototypical Festival in June 2021. RSVP on our event page for updates on this prototyping journey!
- Be My Guide: Assistive technology that generates real-time tactile maps using lidar sensors to support the visually impaired in navigating independently through unfamiliar terrain.
- Blank.B: Mobile application that facilitates productivity management using proven strategies.
- Dewdrop: Water system that directs wasted air-conditioner condensate towards household water needs.
- Modular+: Next-generation modular structures and components that are deployable across different buildings.
- Multi+: Specially-designed kitchenware for an inclusive kitchen.
- Nyawa: Manufacturing eco-friendly biodegradable packaging material whilst simultaneously creating livelihoods for locals in Malaysia.
- Piezo Lads: Piezoelectric devices that harnesses wasted train-track energy to power signalling systems and track lightings in tunnels.
- Sortxt: Recycling bin system that sorts wasted textile to facilitate upcycling of textiles.
- superFARM: Modular & upgradable home hydroponic system that looks towards Singapore’s food security.
- Yolo: Smart cushion that detects and corrects posture for a better, healthier life.
Why PROTOTYPICAL was INITIATED
Despite increasing acknowledgement and awareness on climate change, destruction of the environment, widening inequality gap, concerns on food security and higher depression rates, the younger generation are generally more optimistic about the future. Youths all over the world are stepping up to take action as they recognise the urgency to outlive the disastrous order of effects brought on by the generations before them.
Without action however, ideas are only as good as they sound. And while some ideas do make it to implementation, they often fall short of any impact. Reasons could be due to a lack of support, access to resources or know-how from idea development to execution. This gap motivated Audacity, JTC Corporation and Singapore Polytechnic to create Prototypical.
What the journey hopes to achieve
Prototypical aims to give great thinkers the autonomy to become doers in a supportive environment. Instead of focusing on competitiveness, the programme encourages a cross pollination of ideas across teams, institutions and industries to foster a supportive ecosystem for innovators. This initiative plans to culminate into what will be Singapore’s first prototyping festival that is slated to happen in June 2021. Through Prototypical programmes and showcases we hope to lower the barriers of prototyping and show that anyone, and everyone can play a part in inventing our future. More details about the programme can be found here.
Follow this blog or our Facebook Event page for updates!
For more details such as the programme’s timeline and partnership opportunities, visit Prototypical’s website.