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SMEs Win Awards For Entrepreneurship, Ideas

The Straits Times

4 June 2012 – When the price of oil peaked at its highest levels back in 2008, Mr Chia Yoong Hui saw opportunity in crisis.

The former navy man had met a shipowner who was fretting about the high price of oil and wanted to do more to monitor cost levels.

 “I met a shipowner back in 2008 – when fuel prices were the highest in history – who was telling me about there was no way to monitor fuel consumption,” said Mr Chia, 44.

And out of that chance meeting, Ascenz Solutions, which has designed a system that monitors fuel consumption of ships, was borne.

Together with his former navy buddy Sia Teck Chong, 44, now the general manager of Ascenz, they set up the company in March 2008 with a capital of $100,000.

Their invention has been a commercial success – revenues are expected to come in at $2.8 million this year, more than seven times the #380,000 it earned back in 2008.

Ascenz was one of three firms which emerged tops at this year’s Emerging Enterprise Awards given out last Friday. The two other top winners were East Asia Power (EAP) and Tagit.

EAP specialises in the design and customisation of diesel engine-powered generators.

Firms in the oil and gas industries use these generators as crane generators or to power water-fire pumps.

Tagit is a mobile commerce service provider, and it has developed mobile banking applications for financial institutions such as DBS Bank.

Into its fifth edition, the annual Emerging Enterprise Awards recognise young businesses with less than $10 million in annual sales turnover for their entrepreneurship.

It is jointly organised by OCBC Bank and The Business Times.

Mr Tan Chor Sen, head of emerging business, global commercial banking at OCBC, said:”The winners have proven that size does not matter in the pursuit of their dreams. They are bold in their imagination, innovative in executing their ideas, and versatile in adapting to market conditions.”

All three winners were given $390,000 worth of prizes, including a $150,000 interest free loan from OCBC, a $150,000 grant from Spring Singapore, and a $30,000 education grant from National University of Singapore (NUS) Extension.

EAP general manager Lim Lee Guan, 34, wants to use the prize money to send his staff to NUS to get more training in engineering and marketing, and to invest in more machinery.

Engineering services firms JCS-Vanetec and Hope Technik, won the SingTel Best Innovation Award.

They were chosen for utilising innovation to build an original and sustainable business model.