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The GEAR Future City Festival 2.0: A Nexus of Innovation in the Built Environment

SINGAPORE, March 15, 2024 – The GEAR Future City Festival (FCF) 2.0, a bi-annual event showcasing innovation in the built environment sector, was hosted today by Kajima Corporation, one of Japan’s oldest and largest construction and real estate firms. Organised by Kajima Development Pte. Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of Kajima Corporation, the second edition of the seminal festival brought together a dynamic convergence of thought leadership, startups, investors, and ecosystem players committed to shaping the future of urban living.

“This event exemplifies Kajima’s commitment to investing in the future and exploring new opportunities,” said Keisuke Koshijima, Executive Vice President of Kajima Corporation and Managing Director of Kajima Asia Pacific Holdings Pte. Ltd. (KAP), expressing his enthusiasm about the event. “It serves as a reminder and checkpoint for the industry to explore, collaborate, and propel the built environment sector into a new era. We are thrilled to bring together diverse perspectives at the event today to drive the industry forward.”

Organised in collaboration with the Building and Construction Authority (BCA), The Future City Festival 2.0 was also a Built Environment Innovation Exchange (BEIX) event where BCA announced the launch of new challenge statements for Cycle 5 of their Built Environment Accelerate to Market Programme (BEAMP). BCA's Chief Technology Officer, Jonathan Cheng, expressed his support for the Innovation & Technology (I&T) initiatives in the sector: "We are glad to see The GEAR’s efforts in organising the FCF 2.0 to facilitate innovation and knowledge exchange. Additionally, BCA, together with our partners JTC Corporation and Enterprise Singapore, is pleased to launch new challenge statements for the fifth cycle of our BEAMP at FCF 2.0. This latest cycle of BEAMP includes enhancements such as additional support for small-scale commercial trials and a new sustainability pillar that reinforces our commitment to decarbonising the Built Environment. Together, we are confident that such continued efforts at open innovation by various parties will add to the positive momentum for technology innovation and adoption in our sector.”

As a signal of Kajima’s intent towards solidifying its commitment to promoting talent development and technology commercialisation in the built environment, the festival witnessed the signing of a three-year memorandum of understanding between KAP and Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD).

“SUTD is pleased to partner Kajima on talent development, solution development and community development within the built environment sector. This collaboration is beneficial for both academia and industry as we will nurture the next generation of built environment talents who are equipped with SUTD's unique interdisciplinary education, design thinking and digital proficiency. Furthermore, with Kajima’s support, tech ideas and solutions by SUTD's innovation community will have the opportunity to be deployed in real-world projects, helping to advance research and commercialisation efforts for the betterment of the industry.” said Professor Chong Tow Chong, President of SUTD, highlighting the significance of the collaboration in fostering knowledge exchange and technological advancements between educational institutions and the private sector.

Kajima also announced the inaugural recipient of the Kajima-BIG Startup Award. Organised in collaboration with the Singapore Management University’s (SMU) Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the award aims to boost and strengthen industry participation from startups. The award was presented to HOO, a smart tap attachment that is designed to reduce water usage in a fun and interactive way. It achieves this by monitoring water consumption and encouraging consumers to adopt more sustainable habits through real-time data transmitted to their mobile phones. The brains behind HOO are four 17-year-old girls from Raffles Institution, distinguishing themselves as the youngest founders to join SMU’s Business Innovations Generator (BIG) incubation programme.

“We are delighted to continue our collaboration with Kajima for the second edition of the Future City Festival, which celebrates emerging ideas and solutions that will shape and empower the cities of tomorrow. As an engaged city university, SMU is committed to fostering innovation and entrepreneurship among our students, faculty, and alumni, as well as supporting the growth of the startup ecosystem in Singapore and beyond. Through the Kajima-BIG Startup Award, we are proud to recognise the achievements of startups that have been incubated by our Business Innovations Generator, and to provide them with opportunities to scale up their ventures and make a positive impact on society,” said Professor Lim Sun Sun, Vice President, Partnerships and Engagement, SMU.

In further collaboration with SMU, a thought-provoking panel discussion titled "Surviving The Funding Winter: Insights from Top VCs" took centre stage and explored the nuanced strategies of venture capital in the face of the current socioeconomic climate. Against the backdrop of the festival’s innovative spirit, the session offered startups valuable insights into navigating the funding landscape during turbulent times. Moderated by James Chan, CEO of Ion Mobility, Southeast Asia’s emerging EV mobility company which raised a US$18.7M series A round in February 2023, and top venture capitalists Chik Wai Chiew, CEO of Heritas Capital, Murli Ravi, Partner at Tin Men Capital, and Fady Abdel-Nour, Partner at Antler, shared their perspectives on investment criteria, readiness, and the factors that set startups apart.

The event culminated with The GEAR Residency Programme Demo Day, which featured eight of its resident startups to showcase the outcomes of their 6-month stint at The GEAR. One resident startup, Spinoff Robotics, completed a pilot drone flight to measure the drone’s precision to target and remove stains on The GEAR’s façade. Spinoff Robotics is an SUTD spinoff from the aerial innovation research lab. Another startup, WeavAir, has their devices installed around the building to collect building health and occupant data to provide insights on energy use and recommend potential improvements.

FCF 2.0 proved to be a premier event that serves as a catalyst for driving transformative solutions for future cities. Luke Wu, Head of Innovation at Kajima Development, emphasised the focus of the transformative potential of using The GEAR as a testbed and global community for the industry in his opening remarks. He said, “The GEAR serves as a global meeting ground for a diverse community of stakeholders. Here, ideas converge, innovation thrives, and partnerships blossom. Our facility is not just a physical space – it’s a catalyst for collaboration, a nucleus where minds unite to shape and redefine the future of the built environment.”

About The GEAR: Kajima Lab for Global Engineering, Architecture, & Real Estate

Kajima’s brand-new regional headquarters, The GEAR, sits on a 5,232sqm plot at Changi Business Park. Kajima has invested S$100 million to develop the 6-storey building spanning 13,061.17sqm of GFA, to house approximately 250 of its local staff and will welcome the wider community of built environment innovators and disrupters to co-locate at its open innovation hub on level 3. The GEAR is equipped with 5 laboratories (namely, the Human Centric Design Lab, Construction Robotics Lab, Digital Tech Lab, Environmental Engineering Lab, and Underground Space Creation Lab) and is a living lab for experimentation, exploration, and co-creation. At The GEAR, Kajima will adopt open innovation, conduct R&D on advanced built environment technologies, and testbed solutions for productivity improvement, sustainability, and occupant wellness.


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