AsianScientist (Jul. 24, 2020) – “Innovate or die” is perhaps one of the most well-known adages in the world of business. Made famous by management consultant Peter Drucker in the 1980s, the saying emphasizes how the success and longevity of any company depends upon its willingness to adapt and innovate when needed.
True enough, many companies that are now household names started as completely different enterprises. For example, beloved cosmetics company Avon first hawked books door-to-door before shifting into perfumes and makeup. Meanwhile, the first product of Biocon, India’s largest biopharmaceutical company, was an enzyme to prevent beer from becoming hazy. Today, Biocon produces small molecule drugs, active pharmaceutical ingredients and even antibody treatments.
When Singapore-based engineering solutions company HOPE Technik started out back in 2006, there was only one thing on the minds of founders Peter Ho, Jeff Tang, Michael Leong and Ng Kiang Loong: race cars. The four came to know each other when they were engineering students at the National University of Singapore, brought together by their common interest in motorsport.
“We began by building parts for race cars,” said Ho, a mechanical engineer by training who now serves as the company’s CEO.
“Our client then required some engine development work for an item that would tap on the founders’ past experiences,” he recounted, referring to their experience as part of the National University of Singapore Formula SAE program, where students have to build a Formula-level race car from scratch.
The automotive engineering industry, however, was very small at that time and clients were hard to come by. Instead of closing up shop, Ho and his co-founders saw an opportunity to pivot towards engineering services to expand their portfolio and grow their business.
From building race car parts, HOPE Technik has since grown into a ‘Singapore-proud’ company that creates high-tech, innovative solutions for industries ranging defense and biomedicine to robotics. Key to the team’s success is their track record of delivering specialized and out-of-the box projects to their clients, building on their engineering expertise, innovation and creativity. In a little over a decade, they have already built an impressive portfolio, exemplifying what they call “high-performance engineering solutions in an age defined by disruption.”
One of their most well-known projects is the now-iconic Light Fire Attack Vehicle, popularly known as the Red Rhino—Singapore Civil Defense Force’s homegrown firefighting vehicle, uniquely designed to adapt to the city-state’s urban environment. The vehicle’s diminutive build allows it to navigate through cramped streets and crowded areas to reliably respond to emergency situations. They also built the Red Rhino’s sibling, the Fire Medical Vehicle, a firefighting vehicle that doubles as an ambulance, considered as one of the most compact ones designed.
Ho and his team also worked with global aerospace giant Airbus Defence and Space to build the SpacePlane demonstrator back in 2012. In the process, HOPE Technik beat out more established companies to design and manufacture the plane that was used in actual space flight in 2014.
Collaborating with electronics company Infineon, HOPE Technik’s subsidiary SESTO Robotics also co-developed the Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV), a specialized robot designed to automate the transport of materials in semiconductor manufacturing lines. The AGV helped Infineon increase efficiency on the factory floor by freeing up workers to do more important tasks and gathered data that can be used for improving the overall manufacturing process.
Not even the coronavirus pandemic could stop HOPE Technik’s innovative streak. Last May, the company collaborated with Temasek Foundation, transport company SMRT and Sheares Healthcare to reveal the COVID-19 Multi-Passenger Enhanced Transporter, or COMET, a specialized vehicle used to ferry suspected, confirmed and recovering COVID-19 patients between hospitals, dormitories and community facilities. The project involved converting existing commuter buses into specialized patient transporters, with HOPE Technik creating the air-tight partitions that separate the bus driver from patients in the passenger area, as well as the specialized airconditioning systems.
Ho, meanwhile, was recently appointed as member of the Emerging Stronger Taskforce (EST), a consultative council tasked to provide recommendations for future-proofing Singapore’s post-COVID economy. He is among the 15 industry leaders in Singapore chosen to be part of the group, a recognition of his and his team’s homegrown innovation, creativity and leadership in engineering.
So far, the future looks promising for Ho and HOPE Technik, as they continue to explore more areas of growth.
“Our vision is to continue to grow and mature the business into new sectors, taking each division into a global leader,” he explained. “We are very thankful to have the opportunity to work with many different industries while providing our HOPE Technik flair and staying true to our roots,” he said.
Copyright: Asian Scientist Magazine.
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