BioAsthma

Singapore-based biomedical start-up AEvice Health beat out over 680 start-ups from 18 countries in a pitching competition organised by Slush, Channel NewsAsia and Techventure as part of the Singapore Week of Innovation and TeCHnology (SWITCH) 2016. AEvice Health’s CEO and founder, Adrian Ang, and Edmund Shao, Market Strategist and Co-Founder, tell us more about the inspiration behind their product. They also share some advice for aspiring entrepreneurs.

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From left: Edmund Shao, Market Strategist & Co-Founder , Associate Professor Ser Wee, Co-Founder, Adrian Ang, CEO & Founder [Image: AEvice Health]

People who developed asthma at a young age know all about the potentially debilitating effects, the difficulty in describing their condition to physicians, and the endless amounts of medicine they need to take to keep their condition under control. For CEO and founder of AEvice Health, Adrian Ang, this condition is a particularly close one to his heart – he was an asthma patient as a child. 

AEvice Health, a biomedical spin-off from Nanyang Technological University, uses artificial intelligence to help asthmatic patients to monitor and better control their condition. Adrian shares that most of the company’s pioneering members and co-founders are also asthmatic patients, which strengthens their mission to develop a medical device that can help to improve the lives of asthmatic children.

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The BioAsthma is used to monitor patients’ heart rate, wheezing, breathing rate and coughing frequency [Image: Edmund Shao]

Their device, BioAsthma, can be placed comfortably on the chest of children to provide objective data measurements for doctors to track their condition and avoid the over-prescription of drugs, which could spark off other medical conditions such as heart problems and depression. BioAsthma can also alert a caregiver if a child is about to suffer an asthma attack. According to Adrian, the proprietary technology was invented by Professor Ser Wee from Nanyang Technological University back in 2009, and was later successfully patented in 2015. Professor Ser Wee is also the Co-Founder & Technical Consultant for AEvice Health today. Adrian says that the device is on track to be launched within a year.


 
“AEvice Health is truly humbled and privileged to have won the Pitching Competition by Slush x Channel NewsAsia x Techventure.”

-- Adrian & Edmund on emerging top in the Pitching Competition.

AEvice Health plans to stick closely to their product schedule, and further refine their business plan to focus on product development. As the winner of the Pitching Competition, the company will be participating in the international Slush 100 pitching competition, held in Helsinki at the end of the year.

They will also be featured in a reality accelerator programme on Channel NewsAsia Start-Up Season 4. The programme will see them garnering critical feedback from industry veterans and venture capitalists, which will help to further strengthen their business plan and strategy.

Adrian notes that in order to be successful, a start-up needs a strong business plan, as well as a product or service that helps to plug a pain point. He also highlights the need for entrepreneurs to be down-to-earth, and to stay humble and learn from people constantly. 


Passion is also one of Adrian’s key points for success. “Entrepreneurship is not an easy proposition. Having to work really hard is just the tip of the iceberg,” he says. 

Despite the challenges, Adrian is encouraged by the increasing number of Singaporeans who take the leap of faith to join the start-up scene today, compared to when he created his first e-commerce start-up four years ago. He attributes this to a shift in the education system to encourage entrepreneurship, and hopes to see Singapore’s government and investors take up a greater risk appetite to invest in start-ups over the next few years.

A work day for Adrian and the AEvice Health team is never typical. He describes their work as “extremely non-routine”, with plenty of ad-hoc events that disrupt their work, but these are necessary for entrepreneurs to face during their start-up journey.

The team has the autonomy to decide on their work schedule, as long as they remain efficient. Their laptops and the Internet are two essential items in their everyday lives, as they work from coffee shops, cafeterias, fast-food restaurants and even on public transport well into the wee hours.

Adrian concludes that his team loves what they are doing, and that these non-routine, non-standard work days are just part and parcel of an entrepreneur’s life.

“It can be financially stressful and you may lose your sense of direction. It is only with passion that you will be able to overcome these challenges.”

-- Edmund Shao on what pushed him through challenges as an entrepreneur. 
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