Chia Yoong Hui, founder, chairman and chief executive officer, Ascenz Solutions

Solutions Maritime Technology Solutions Entrepreneur Of The Year

Chia Yoong Hui, founder, chairman and chief executive officer, Ascenz Solutions

[dropcap size=small]C[/dropcap]hia Yoong Hui recounts that he was trying to sell accounting products to a shipping company in 2007 when he had a life-changing epiphany. He says: “Shipping companies would panic whenever oil prices fluctuate drastically. This is because the industry, which shies away from technology, still uses measuring tapes to measure oil volumes.” The 49-year-old started the operational intelligence company in 2008 with his chief technology officer, Sia Teck Chong, in response to the industry’s need for digital regulation technology.

“Shipping is still very reliant on humans, who physically congregate to make decisions based on gut feeling, rather than on the collection and analysis of data,” says Chia. In response, the company creates proprietary software systems to help vessels maximise efficiency and cost savings by tracking and providing timely and accurate data relating to fuel consumption, engine performance and carbon emissions, among other factors.

Today, Ascenz has six offices across Europe and Asia. More than 400 ships around the world, including those of Shell and Maersk, are installed with its software.

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Derrick Yap, chief executive officer, PBA International

Diversified Engineering Entrepreneur Of The Year

Derrick Yap, chief executive officer, PBA International

[dropcap size=small]W[/dropcap]hen Derrick Yap joined the family business 16 years ago, the company specialised in trading ball bearings. With advances in technology since then, Yap, who studied business at NUS, has helped to expand the business into areas such as distribution of aerospace components, production and distribution of robots, and customised robotic solutions.

“Singapore has very few companies doing robotics. Other companies would be contracted to develop the technology but, afterwards, the technology would belong to the client,” says the 38-year-old chief executive. “We sought to monetise intellectual property (IP) for components, and build IPs into solutions instead of selling them.”

Today, he presides over 500 employees in 13 countries around the world. PBA was recently evaluated to have a value of close to $300 million, according to Yap, who joined the company when its total assets and 50-odd employees were valued between $20 million and $30 million. The catalyst behind this growth is the company’s 3-in-3 rule. Says Yap: “If a particular company of ours is not among the top three in the market within three years, we will find new sectors to go into.”

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Lennon Tan, group chairman, JK Tech Group

Financial Services Technology Enablement Entrepreneur Of The Year

Lennon Tan, group chairman, JK Tech Group

After working for American manufacturing conglomerate 3M – where he developed the business across the Asia Pacific – for 10 years, Lennon Tan decided to scratch his entrepreneurial itch and relocated to China to seek business opportunities. There, he chanced upon and acquired Jing King Tech Holdings, then a small card-manufacturing business whose owner was about to retire. After taking over the company in 2001, Tan tapped on technology and innovation to transform the manufacturing outfit into the fintech giant it is today, and which ranks among the top 10 global smartcard producers.

With 2,000 employees worldwide, the JK Tech Group, which is now headquartered in Singapore, services leading banks and financial institutions with secure mobile payment solutions, biometric authentication technology, and automation solutions such as virtual teller machines (VTM). VTMs, fitted with facial recognition technology and video surveillance, allow customers to access banking services without having to visit a bank’s branch.

Says the 49-year-old Tan: “An ATM can do many things, but it cannot remit large amounts and open new accounts, so we designed the VTM, which is capable of these tasks through biometrics, and can help to reduce the number of staff in a 30,000 sq ft bank to just five.”

PHOTOGRAPHY Veronica Tay & Vernon Wong