Innovators Under 35 Asia Pacific


The 20 outstanding innovators from the region have been chosen. These young innovators are trailblazers in their fields and are leading the next generation of technological breakthroughs. The 20 regional honourees will each present a three-minute elevator pitch at EmTech Asia on 4 – 6 August 2020. MIT Technology Review also showcases the honourees online.

  • Anastasia Volkova



    How It’s Made: Autonomous Farms

    Daily satellite imagery and sensors are now automatic and provide data 24/7, enabling the possibility of autonomous farming. As of present, the agricultural industry does not leverage on data, leading to inefficient agricultural production. With autonomous farming, agriculture production can be sustainable through predictive farm-specific models that will help us attend to crop-needs at the right time. But what stands in the way? Join the founder and CEO of FluroSat, Amelia Earhart Fellow, Dr Anastasia Volkova as she explores the future of conventional agriculture.


    About Anastasiia Volkova

    Anastasia founded FluroSat with the aim to close the gap between the application of remote sensing technology in precision agriculture and the insights available in the field. An experienced aeronautical engineer armed with a PhD in autonomous drone navigation, Anastasia’s extensive experience ranges from participating in projects with the NASA robots onboard International Space Station to managing a 370-person team for UEFA. She has received numerous awards, including Women Creating Change by NSW/ACT (Australian Capital Territory and NSW) Young Achiever Award and the 2017 Amelia Earhart Fellow award.

  • Bolei Zhou


    Chinese University of Hong Kong

    Making AI models more understandable and trustworthy to humans

    AI models such as deep neural networks are employed to make highly consequential decisions in our daily lives. However, these complex models, purely trained from massive amounts of data, are often treated as a black-box - lacking interpretations for their internal mechanisms as well as explanation for their output predictions. Bolei will talk about his work on opening the black-box; revealing what’s inside the networks trained-for-image-recognition-and-image-synthesis, and the continuing effort to make AI models more transparent.


    About Bolei Zhou

    Bolei is an Assistant Professor with the Department of Information Engineering at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He received his PhD degree in computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research is in machine perception and decision, with a focus on enabling machines to sense and reason about the environment through learning more interpretable and structural representations. He received the Facebook Fellowship, Microsoft Research Asia Fellowship, MIT Greater China Fellowship, and his research was featured in media outlets such as TechCrunch, Quartz, and MIT News.

  • Carine Lim


    National University of Singapore

    Unmasking Alzheimer’s disease with a simple, accurate and cost-effective blood test

    Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is typically diagnosed at a late stage with subjective, expensive or invasive methods. Despite intense interest to develop alternative blood-based detection technologies, these technologies are limited by low sensitivity and poor accuracy to brain pathology. With the APEX technology, sensitive, accurate and direct detection of the earliest and most reflective marker of AD brain pathology from a small volume of blood can be done. The blood test can facilitate early detection and intervention, as well as treatment evaluation, which can improve the success of disease-modifying therapies.


    About Carine Lim

    Carine is an enthusiastic Biomedical Engineering graduate student at the National University of Singapore. She works at the crossroad of multiple disciplines to tackle challenges in medical diagnostics, with the hope of making a positive impact in patient care. Her research focuses on circulating markers for precision medicine and molecular stratification. Her recent work in developing an accurate blood-based detection for Alzheimer’s disease was highlighted in Nature Communications and major media. She believes accurate disease detection with circulating biomarkers will benefit patients in facilitating early detection and treatment evaluation, which can improve the success rate of disease-modifying therapies.

  • Chunfeng Wan



    Developing membrane technologies to convert the osmotic pressure to renewable osmotic energy


    About Chunfeng Wan

    Chunfeng is a technical director at Meinhardt. He obtained his Ph.D. from Prof Chung’s membrane research group in the National University of Singapore. His research focuses on membrane synthesis, membrane module fabrication, process design, techno-economic analysis and pilot system for osmotic energy generation by pressure retarded osmosis (PRO). He has published 20+ articles in the Journal of Membrane Science, Applied Energy, and other leading research journals. He was awarded the AICHE-SLS young researcher and principal investigator award in 2018 and Forbes 30 under 30 Asia award in 2019.

  • Connor Talbot



    Developing data centric solutions to eliminate prosthetic pain and discomfort


    About Connor Talbot

    Connor is a graduate Electrical Engineer from the University of Auckland. From working with injured animals and thinking of 3D printed prosthetic solutions, he realized there is a major opportunity to create better prosthetics for humans instead. Connor and his team are working to address the problem of poor fitting prosthetic sockets in human amputees by utilising Selective Laser Sintering, an industrial version of 3D printing. They have transitioned towards developing data centric solutions, capturing vital limb information in new ways which can then be used by prosthetic companies to improve patient outcomes.

  • Dongliang (Donny) Chao


    The University of Adelaide

    Finding new battery technologies for next-generation safe, low-cost and scalable energy storage

    Safety concerns of organic media-based batteries are the key public arguments against their widespread usage. Aqueous batteries provide a promising alternative for safe, cost-effective, and scalable energy storage with high power density and tolerance against mishandling. Dongliang’s new battery technologies have opened new opportunities for the development of high-performance batteries and should be of immediate benefit for low-cost practical energy storage and grid-scale applications.


    About Dongliang (Donny) Chao

    Donny obtained his PhD from Nanyang Technological University (NTU). He joined University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA, USA) in 2016 as a joint researcher, followed by postdoc at NTU. He is currently an ARC Research Fellow at The University of Adelaide, focusing on materials for next-generation safe, low-cost and scalable energy storage. Dr Chao is serving as Managing Editor for the journal Materials Today Energy. He has published >80 journal articles and 1 authored book. His H-index is 38 with citations of more than 6,300.

  • Gibran Huzaifah Asmi El Farizy



    Created an IoT smart feeding solution and leverages on data and its network to increase fisheries’ efficiency and profitability

    As a fish farmer-turned-agriculture tech entrepreneur, eFishery founder and CEO Gibran Huzaifah is revolutionizing the relatively untapped $9.4 billion-valued Indonesian aquaculture market. eFishery uses cloud-based smart-feeding technology in fish and shrimp farms across the vast archipelago, to ensure that fishes are healthy, and waste is minimized. The IoT startup doesn't just sell products, it also collects data from feeding, production, water quality and fish behavior to create predictive algorithm and value-chain services. The company uses the data platform to provide and connect farmers with services like financing, market access, and supply.


    About Gibran Huzaifah Asmi El Farizy

    Gibran completed his degree in Biological Science at Institut Teknologi Bandung. He started his own catfish farm while in college, which grew from a single pond to 76 ponds upon his graduation. In 2013, he found eFishery, a smart feeding technology that radically changed the way fish and shrimp farmers feed, helping them become more cost effective and environmentally sustainable. Since its commercialization, eFishery has been adopted by thousands of farmers across Indonesia. Gibran and his team expanded eFishery’s functionalities to credit scoring, predictive on-demand feed supply, and even a fish marketplace that uses the data from its IoT. His company now employs 164 people, with products deployed in Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, India, and Bangladesh. Gibran was in Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia in 2017 and Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year (Innovation Category).

  • Hao Guo


    The University of Hong Kong

    Created an electricity- and chemical- free filter for rapid water purification


    About Hao Guo

    Hao is now a Postdoc Fellow from Department of Civil Engineering at The University of Hong Kong (HKU). He received his B.Eng from Wuhan University of Technology at 2010, M.Eng from Huazhong University of Science & Technology at 2013, and Ph.D. from HKU at 2017. His research works mainly go to the fundamental mechanism investigation and novel materials development in advanced membrane-based water treatment and seawater desalination for sustainable water production.

  • Ka Yi Ling


    Shiok Meats

    Bringing delicious and healthy crustacean meat to consumers by harvesting cells instead of animals

    The way the world eats at present is unsustainable and unhealthy for the environment, animals and ourselves. It is impossible to produce the amount of seafood required to feed the growing population by 2050. Shiok Meats have created a solution by cultivating meat in the lab. By using stem cells and biotechnology, cultivated crustacean meats can be brought to your table, which are health-, animal- and environment-friendly. In this talk, Ka Yi will share the background and technology of cultivated crustacean meats and the journey of setting up Shiok Meats.


    About Ka Yi Ling

    Ka Yi is a developmental and stem cell biologist with over 10 years expertise in tracing and studying stem cells during development. Ka Yi received the prestigious A*STAR’s National Science Scholarship and graduated with a Bachelor’s and PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She worked closely with stem cell and developmental biology experts like James Thomson, Davor Solter and Barbara Knowles. Following graduation, Ka Yi did her postdoc at IMCB, A*STAR in Singapore. She is an active science communicator since her days in Madison; and frequently takes part in science outreach and speaks at food sustainability and career management events. She also did a podcast called “Science Now” and “Life after PhD” with fellow colleague/scholar. Ka Yi is passionate about marrying her experience in biotech research and her love for food to produce sustainable food products. In August 2018, she co-founded a cell-based crustaceans startup called Shiok Meats, along with Dr Sandhya Sriram.

  • Katherine A. Kim


    National Taiwan University

    Power Electronics to Maximize Solar Photovoltaic Power for Emerging Applications

    Solar photovoltaic energy is a viable source of clean, renewable power for applications like wearables, health-monitoring devices, drones, and electric vehicles. However, conventional power system designs drastically reduced power generation when the solar cells receive different amounts of light, as in these emerging applications. Katherine has created an innovative power electronics design, using a technique called differential power processing. This innovation minimizes power lost in the converters while individually maximizing each solar cell’s power. The power converters easily connect together for a modular design. Prototypes for wearables have been built and further development for various applications is in progress.


    About Katherine A. Kim

    Katherine is Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at National Taiwan University. She received the B.S. Degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, Needham, MA, in 2007, and the M.S. and Ph.D. Degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, IL, USA, in 2011 and 2014, respectively. From 2014 to 2018, she was an Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology, Ulsan, South Korea. Her research focuses on power electronics and control for photovoltaic systems and wearable applications.

  • Lukasz Orlowski



    Built a cloud-based supercomputing system emulation engine for supercomputing software development, testing and validation

    Archanan Development Cloud (DevCloud) is a supercomputing system emulation engine, which enables development, testing and validation of high-performance computing codes at the desired scale using a fully-featured, web-based Integrated Development Environment (IDE). Furthermore, it enables supercomputer pre-sizing and emulation to find the best system specifications for given workflows, making it an invaluable tool for both supercomputing centers and OEMs during tendering process.


    About Lukasz Orlowski

    Lukasz is a passionate software engineer and computational scientist with interest in large-scale computational software, supercomputing systems and distributed computing systems. He has over 8 years of experience in distributed and parallel software development. Having worked at Intel and A*STAR Computational Resource Center, Lukasz experienced first-hand the woes of a distributed software developer and decided to challenge how large-scale simulation software is developed. He cofounded Archanan – a startup developing innovative supercomputer emulation engine, for supercomputer software development, testing and validation.

  • Mohammad Hossein Davood Abadi Farahani



    Separating industrial chemical mixtures at a molecular level with minimal energy

    Chemical separation is imperative for industries ranging from food, pharmaceutical, and petrochemical. Not only are these processes operating at massive scales, but they also require immense amounts of energy-intensive distillation and evaporation separations. Dr. Farahani, cofounder and CEO of SEPPURE, invented chemical-resistant membranes with pores less than 1 nanometer, enabling chemical separations at a molecular level, without the traditional use of heat. SEPPURE’s sustainable alternative can reduce energy consumption by 90% and conserve billions of gallons of water and billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions from entering the atmosphere every single year.


    About Mohammad Hossein Davood Abadi Farahani

    Farahani is cofounder and CEO of SEPPURE. SEPPURE creates novel nano-filters to separate chemical mixtures at a molecular level with minimal energy use. Originally started as a project at the National University of Singapore (NUS) during Farahani’s Ph.D. program, SEPPURE has raised US$2.55M seed funding to commercialize the technology. He received his Ph.D. degree in Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering in 2018 from NUS as an A*Star SINGA awardee. His Ph.D. thesis (SEPPURE's core technology) also received global recognition in 2018 via the “Outstanding Postgraduate Research Thesis Award” from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.

  • Nazanin Saeidi


    Singapore ETH Centre

    MycoTimber; wood from no wood. A global paradigm shift in building industry.

    Future economic and ecological development worldwide is strongly connected to the question where our resources for future prosperity come from. As our mines are running dry, our forests are disappearing and CO2 levels are reaching alarming levels, we need to think radically different in all economic sectors. The building industry alone is responsible for 40% of our solid waste production, for 40% of the use of primary energy resources and for 40% of CO2 emissions worldwide. To address this issue, we need to build a sustainable environment using alternative construction materials and systems. In this regard, mycelium, the structural part of fungi which forms its vegetative growth and mass can revolutionize the construction sector. Mycelium forms a net like structure and works as a binder which gets denser during the cultivation process on plant-based waste products. New age green technology to upcycle, transform and repurpose organic waste into “wood from no wood” can address several environmental, economical and socio-cultural concerns over construction industry.


    About Nazanin Saeidi

    Nazanin is a postdoctoral researcher and project coordinator of Mycelium-based composite materials lab at Future Cities Laboratory, where she is working on upcycling plant-based waste products and turning them to ecological products with the aid of fungal mycelia as natural binder. Dr Nazanin Saeidi attained her BS degree in chemical engineering from Sharif University of Technology in Tehran, Iran in 2008. She received an A* Star scholarship and pursued her post-graduate studies in chemical and biomedical engineering at Nanyang Technological University, where she worked on engineering microbes to sense and eradicate a human pathogen. In 2013, she became a postdoctoral research fellow at the Singapore Membrane Technology Center where she studied the development of improved strategies to control Biofouling of membranes in water industry. In 2014, she joined the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at National University of Singapore to pursue a new research experience and focused on emerging microbial contaminants of concern in tropical urban catchments and the effect of diverse land use on the geospatial distribution of Emerging microbial contaminants of concern in tropical environments.

  • Ping Luo


    The University of Hong Kong

    Developing Computer Vision and AI technologies to understand human behaviors such as facial expressions, emotions, and social relationship

    Dr Luo’s research focuses on developing Computer Vision (CV) and AI technologies to understand human behaviors such as faces, emotions, actions and social relationships, in order to advance human-AI paired systems that outperform their singular counterparts. His groundbreaking researches included delving deeply into understanding the foundations of deep neural networks including autonomous deep learning, normalization, and optimization of deep neural networks. His work also enable many popular applications of AI and computer vision such as generating and editing high-fidelity images and videos, as well as understanding fashion trend by analyzing clothing images.


    About Ping Luo

    Ping is an Assistant Professor in Computer Science, the University of Hong Kong. He received his PhD degree in 2014 in the Chinese University of Hong Kong under the supervision of Xiaoou Tang (founder of SenseTime) and Xiaogang Wang. Previously a Director at SenseTime Research, Ping has published more than 70 top-tier conferences and journals such as TPAMI, ICML, ICLR, NeurIPS and CVPR, with 8500 citations in Google Scholar. He has won many awards such as the first runner-up in 2014 ImageNet ILSVRC Challenge and 2013 Microsoft Research Fellow Award.

  • Po-Yen Chen


    National University of Singapore

    Multifunctional Metallic Backbones for Next-Generation Soft Robotics

    Po-Yen's work focuses on the tight integration of actuation, sensing, and wireless communication capabilities into robotic bodies, enabling the development of new-generation soft robots with multiple built-in functionalities. The integration of functional nanomaterials (especially 2D materials) into soft matter allows for the fabrication of soft robotic materials with required multifunctionality and reconfigurability. Po-Yen and his lab have developed strategies to integrate a wide range of 2D materials with various soft matter, including a post-stabilization approach to produce reconfigurable and multifunctional metallic backbones (e.g., Pt-elastomer) for the fabrication of origami robots with built-in strain sensing and wireless communication capabilities. Compared with traditional robotic materials (papers and elastomers), the soft robots with Pt-based bodies demonstrated distinct capabilities without the needs of external electronics, such as built-in strain sensing, and wireless communication.


    About Po-Yen Chen

    Po-Yen is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at National University of Singapore. He completed his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was awarded a Hibbitt Independent Postdoctoral Fellowship at Brown University. He was also awarded AME Young Investigator Award at Singapore and AIChE-SLS Outstanding Young Principal Investigator Award 2019. He aims at building a multidisciplinary research group that focuses on the mechanically patterned 2D materials that are capable of undergoing large and reversible stretching and deformations for the fabrication of stretchable electronics and smart soft robotics.

  • Sadaf Monajemi


    See-Mode Technologies

    Helping doctors predict and prevent strokes using deep learning and computational modelling

    See-Mode is a medtech startup with a team of scientists, engineers, and clinicians tackling the 2nd leading cause of death in the world: stroke. Currently, prediction and treatment planning of stroke is based on the decades-old method of stenosis grading, i.e. measuring the extent of narrowing of blood vessels in the neck or in the brain. However, mounting clinical evidence has recently proven that the risk of stroke depends on other physiological biomarkers that are difficult to obtain in real clinical settings. At See-Mode, cutting-edge deep learning and computational modeling techniques are applied on medical images to helps doctors predict stroke and decide the optimal treatment for their patient. See-Mode has developed and validated its first product for AI-based analysis of vascular ultrasound images, has received regulatory approval from Health Sciences Authority in Singapore, and is awaiting CE approval.


    About Sadaf M0najemi

    Sadaf is the cofounder of See-Mode Technologies, a med-tech startup that empowers doctors to predict strokes without any additional test using deep learning and computational modelling. After finishing her PhD in National University of Singapore (NUS), which was focused on the applications of machine learning and AI in medicine, she cofounded See-Mode to apply her research skills on a real-world problem that has a significant impact on patients and the healthcare industry. Over the past 2 years, she has grown See-Mode to an interdisciplinary team of 13 engineers and scientists, making rapid progress in bringing latest stroke research into hospitals.

  • Stephanie Hui Kit Yap


    Nanyang Technological University

    Advanced hand-held microfiber-based sensor for water quality monitoring

    Water quality monitoring used to be is laborious, time-consuming, costly and in some rural areas, inaccessible. Stephanie developed a hand-held sensor that can detect various heavy metals such as cadmium and lead in five minutes, at a fraction of the cost of conventional measurement. It is also more affordable to public/private use, allowing for water quality monitoring to be conducted thoroughly and frequently. Using the developed sensing platform, Stephanie is currently working on extending the applicability of the sensor for other organic and biomolecule water contaminants as well as incorporating IoT for large-scale distributed sensing.


    About Stephanie Hui Kit Yap

    Stephanie received her B.Eng. in Electrical-Telecommunication (1st Class) from Universiti Teknologi Malaysia and is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in School of Electrical Electronic Engineering in Nanyang Technological University. Her invention of a handheld water quality monitoring sensor for heavy metal detection has received recognition from international exhibitions such as the 46th International Exhibition of Invention Geneva 2018 (AFJ Gold medal) and International Trade Fair Invention 2018 (Gold medal). Stephanie is currently working on extending the applicability of the invention for other organic and biomolecule water contaminants as well as incorporating IoT for large-scale distributed sensing.

  • Wei Ru Wong


    University of Malaya

    Using light to rapidly detect dengue

    Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral disease which has more than 390 million infections worldwide every year. Wei Ru’s research is focused on the development of a rapid dengue detection technology to expedite the detection of the dengue infection in blood. The detection can be done within 30 minutes as compared to the current, week-long laboratory diagnosis. The rapid sensing technology is based around the interaction between light with the chemical dynamics that take place when a virus is captured by the antibodies specific to the said virus. Both the sensor chips and the assessment modules are currently in the pre-commercialization phase.


    About Wei Ru Wong

    Wei Ru received her B.Eng. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Malaya, where she is now a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Electrical Engineering. During her PhD, she was a visiting student at University of Ottawa, Canada for two years. Her research focuses on the development of a rapid dengue detection technology to expedite the detection of the dengue infection in blood. She was the recipient of Malaysia Toray Science Foundation (MTSF) Science and Technology Award in 2017 and University of Malaya’s Excellent Service Certificate (SPC) in 2018.

  • Yvonne Gao


    Institute for Materials Research and Engineering


    Building modular hardware for quantum computers

    Quantum computers offer a powerful new paradigm of information processing that harnesses the unique features of quantum mechanics. A robust quantum computer has far-reaching impacts, capable of transforming a wide range of industries from every facet of life, from drug discoveries to logistics optimisations. Yconne will talk about the key modular quantum hardware she built using electrical circuits, which are cooled below a fraction of a degree to capture their quantum behaviour. These circuits can be manipulated to reliably store, process, and transfer quantum information. They offer a promising platform for realising robust large-scale computation.


    About Yvonne Gao

    Yvonne is a quantum physicist focusing on developing crucial hardware building blocks for quantum computers. She holds a B.A. from the University of Oxford and Ph.D. in Physics from Yale University. Yvonne is now working on establishing a new research initiative in Singapore, specialising in manipulating electrical circuits to store and process quantum information. Outside the lab, Yvonne plays an active role in building a vibrant quantum ecosystem in Singapore through public talks, panel discussions, and popular science writings.

  • Ziyan Guo


    The University of Hong Kong

    Developing the world’s first intraoperative Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)-guided robot for bilateral stereotactic neurosurgery

    Stereotactic neurosurgery involves a technique that can locate surgical targets using an external positioning system. It is one of the treatments to a variety of movement and neuropsychiatric disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease and essential tremor. Ziyan has developed a robot that is incorporated with magnetic resonance-safe actuation, wireless tracking technique and intraoperative magnetic resonance imaging for bilateral neuro-stereotaxy. It allows for shorter procedural time and optimized workflow, as surgeons could accurately control and evaluate the stereotactic manipulation bilaterally to the left and right brain targets in real-time.


    About Ziyan Guo

    Ziyan is a robotics scientist focused on innovating robotic devices for interventions requiring magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) guidance, e.g. stereotactic neurosurgery, and cardiac catheterization. She received B.Eng in vehicle engineering from Tsinghua University and pursued PhD in surgical robotics in IRIS group under the supervision of Dr. Ka-Wai Kwok at The University of Hong Kong. Her work was recognised in several prestigious awards, including Best Conference Paper Award in ICRA’18 (the largest robotics conference), First Place Prize Paper Award in TPEL 2017, and Best Live Demonstration Prize in Surgical Robot Challenge 2016.