Innovators Under 35 Asia Pacific


The 10 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 10 regional honourees will each present a three-minute elevator pitch at EmTech Asia on 22 - 23 January 2019. MIT Technology Review also showcases the honourees online.

  • Robert Bedington


    Centre for Quantum Technologies

    Delivering uncrackable encryption keys from space using quantum key distribution

    Powerful quantum computers will spur many technological breakthroughs, but will also enable our everyday encryption systems to be cracked. At NUS Centre for Quantum Technologies and our S15 Space Systems spin-out company, we are working to establish a constellation of satellites that can deliver encryption keys from orbit. These keys are derived from the randomised quantum states of photons transmitted from the satellite and measured in such a way that they cannot be covertly intercepted by an eavesdropper. This process, quantum key distribution, is thus computationally uncrackable and can secure our sensitive data in the coming age of quantum computers.


    About Robert Bedington

    Dr Robert Bedington leads a team of quantum satellite-builders at the Centre for Quantum Technologies at the National University of Singapore. In 2019, they will launch the nanosatellite SpooQy-1 to demonstrate quantum entanglement in space. In collaboration with the UK’s RAL Space, the team will advance to delivering quantum encryption keys from space. Robert is also CTO-designate at S15 Space Systems, a startup that aims to build a constellation of quantum key distributing satellites. Robert received his PhD from University College London and worked at the Japan aerospace exploration agency on space-weather instrumentation and elsewhere on instruments for astronomical telescopes.

  • Wenyue Zou


    Ian Potter NanoBioSensing Facility, RMIT University

    Low-cost personalised wearable UV sensor offering real-time sun exposure monitoring

    Over-exposure to ultra-violet radiation (UVR) in the sunlight is the major cause of skin cancer, while under-exposure may cause vitamin D deficiency. Therefore, precise monitoring the invisible UVR is an important challenge. We developed a photo-active ink that can generate a unique colour response to specific UV wavelengths. We use this ink to fabricate low-cost wearable sensors on a piece of paper that can provide naked-eye monitoring of UVR, even at very low doses typically encountered during solar exposure. As people with different skin colours have different UV tolerance, our UV sensors can be customised to meet the specific needs of different skin phototypes. These low-cost personalised wearable UV sensors offer remarkable potential in managing the impact of UVR in our day-to-day life.


    About Wenyue Zou

    Wenyue Zou is a postdoctoral researcher at RMIT University, Australia and a co-founder of NexGen NanoSensors Pty Ltd. Her research focuses on the innovative use of light-active materials to make colour-based sensors. She has developed and patented a personalised wearable UV sensor technology that allows real-time monitoring of sun exposure for people with different skin colours. This technology featured in more than 130 global media outlets, with a total audience of over 150 million worldwide. She is confident that her low-cost UV sensor will create a major social impact by addressing the UN Sustainable Development Goal of Good Health and Well Being for All.

  • Nana Liu


    John Hopcroft Center for Computer Science in Shanghai Jiao Tong University

    Making quantum computing more trustworthy in a future quantum internet

    Quantum computers are geared to change the world in remarkable ways, from breaking the world’s toughest encryption systems, simulating complex chemical reactions to speeding up machine learning algorithms. A network of communicating quantum computers, in a future quantum internet, is expected to be even more powerful and versatile. However, just like the internet today, security and reliability will be of paramount importance. At EmTech 2019, I will share with you some ideas about how we can ensure better trustworthiness for a network of quantum computers as well as leveraging quantum computing to help with security problems.


    About Nana Liu

    Nana Liu is currently an Assistant Professor at the John Hopcroft Center for Computer Science in Shanghai Jiao Tong University. She received her doctorate in 2016 from the University of Oxford as a Clarendon Scholar and was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Centre for Quantum Technologies in the National University of Singapore and the Singapore University for Technology and Design. Her focus is on employing quantum resources for both quantum computation and quantum sensing. Her research also lies at the interface between quantum computing, security and machine learning, which will be useful in building a future quantum internet.

  • Loi Luu


    Kyber Network

    Enabling a Decentralised and Transparent Economy with Blockchains

    Blockchains are shaping a new decentralised economy that offers several promising properties including trustless and transparency. This talk will give several examples of what developers around the world are building as the main building blocks for this decentralised economy. The talk will also discuss major challenges for this movement to take off.


    About Loi Luu

    Loi Luu is CEO and Cofounder of Kyber Network, a major decentralised on-chain liquidity protocol that powers different applications including decentralised exchanges, funds and other financial applications. He earned his PhD from National University of Singapore, where he worked to improve the base technical layers, namely decentralisation, scalability and security  for the public blockchain infrastructure. To date, there are 572 follow up papers cited his published academic work. Most importantly, more than 20 blockchain companies/ projects that benefit from his work and collectively these companies are worth more than tens of billions of US dollars.

  • Jonathan Hall


    Life Whisperer

    Life Whisperer: using AI and computer vision to identify healthy embryos in IVF, and improve pregnancy outcomes for couples

    Life Whisperer uses artificial intelligence to identify healthy embryos in IVF to improve pregnancy outcomes for couples wanting to have children. Clinicians can access Life Whisperer on-demand, where they can ‘drag-and-drop’ images of embryos onto a web browser and receive an instant viability report. Clinical trials showed Life Whisperer outperformed highly-skilled clinicians by over 30% in identifying viable embryos, and was also able to identify the Down Syndrome genetic disorder. Life Whisperer has won multiple awards including Top 5 in TechCrunch Battlefield Australia and TalentUnleashed ‘Global Winner One to Watch’ which was judged by Sir Richard Branson and Steve Wozniak.


    About Jonathan Hall

    Dr Jonathan Hall is Co-founder and Director of Life Whisperer, using deep-learning and computer-vision technology to identify viable human embryos in IVF to help couples have children. Trials showed selection performance improvement of 50%, and can identify genetic disorders such as Down Syndrome. Life Whisperer made the finals at TechCrunch Startup Battlefield Australia, and was awarded ‘Global Winner - One to Watch’ at TalentUnleashed, with judges Richard Branson and Steve Wozniak. Jonathan has PhDs in both theoretical physics and embryo nanotechnology, with awards in respective fields, and won First Prizes for both Medical Innovation and Research Commercialisation in Australian eChallenge.

  • Cathy N.P. Lui


    OPER Technology Limited

    Autologous neural stem cell harvest for an ultimate and novel cure of neurological diseases

    Neurodegenerative diseases are considered to be incurable at this moment. Unfortunately, no one can satisfy this unmet medical need now. To provide an ultimate solution to the diseases, “Autologous Neural Stem Cell (ANSc) Harvest Technology” can harvest adult neural stem cells from living brain without causing any damage to the patients and replace the degenerating and damaged neural cells for recovery. Our tailor-made magnetic nanoparticles are used for extracting active adult neural stem cells by recognizing the markers expressed on the cells. The risks of immune rejection, tumor formation and genetic instability can be minimized as the cells are originated from the patients themselves.


    About Cathy N.P. Lui

    Dr. Cathy N.P. LUI is the co-founder of OPER Technology Limited, a biotechnology start-up company spinned off from Hong Kong Baptist University. She is also the inventor of the patented technology, “Autologous neural stem cell harvest”. Dr. Lui graduated with her PhD in Neuroscience in Hong Kong Baptist University and she was granted a postdoctoral fellowship from American Parkinson’s Disease Association. Under the leadership of Dr. Lui, OPER Technology Limited has gained public-wide recognition and won more than 30 industrial and technological awards.

  • Ruibang Luo


    The University of Hong Kong, L3 Bioinformatics Limited

    Speed up precision medicine with algorithms and AI

    The genetic background is different between populations, the outcome of a genetic mutation can be very different between the Westerners and Easterners. Instead of repeating the experiments and clinical trials done on Westerners once again to the Easterners, we should increasingly rely on artificial intelligence to predict the possible outcomes leveraging the differences at multiple levels of omics. With the accumulated experience and data primarily from the Chinese market, Dr. Luo is currently working on extending the role of artificial intelligence in a Chinese version of precision medicine with high speed and accuracy.


    About Ruibang Luo

    Dr. Luo is an assistant professor in computer science at HKU. He received his B.E. degree in bio-engineering from the South China University of Technology in 2010 and his Ph.D. degree in computational biology from the University of Hong Kong in 2015. He was a postdoctoral fellow in the Center of Computational Biology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He works on bioinformatics and precision medicine. His interdisciplinary research results have been published in Nature, Nature Biotechnology, and Bioinformatics. His research covers a diversity of topics in computational biology, from technique-driven developments to hypothesis-driven investigations.

  • Katharina Richter


    University of Adelaide, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital

    New weapons against superbugs

    The rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, so called ‘superbugs’, is one of the greatest threats to human health. If we fail to rapidly create new ways to fight superbugs, 10 million people are projected to die every year by 2050. Dr. Katharina Richter developed several innovative treatments to fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Amongst them, shooting silver nano-bullets at bacteria and feeding them “toxic chocolate”. These innovations may become essential weapons for our arsenal against superbugs and therefore save lives.


    About Katharina Richter

    Dr Richter is an enthusiastic biomedical scientist, dedicated to improve therapies against antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Joining the war on superbugs she developed and patented 2 novel treatments and translated them from bench to bedside. With a background in pharmaceutical sciences and a PhD in medicine/applied microbiology, Dr Richter collaborates with scientists, clinicians and industry partners to ensure a real life impact of her work. She initiated 2 clinical trials in Adelaide, Australia, actively improving public healthcare. Dr Richter's excellence has been recognised by peers, the public and the media as evidenced by 29 awards/prizes, numerous public outreach activities and media engagements around the world.

  • Thanh Duc Nguyen


    University of Connecticut

    Smart Biodegradable Polymer for Medical Applicationss

    The ability to transform medical polymers, commonly used for resorbable surgical sutures, into desired 3D forms/shapes/structures at small-scales with “smart” functions, while sustaining the materials’ excellent biocompatibility and biodegradability, provides significant applications in different biomedical fields, ranging from tissue engineering and controlled drug-delivery to medical devices. Here, I will present my recent inventions to create 3D microstructures of biodegradable polymers for developing single-administered vaccines, and convert the biopolymers into “smart” piezoelectric materials, which can generate electricity under deformation and vice versa, offering a variety of exciting applications in biodegradable force sensors, tissue-engineering scaffolds and medical transducers.


    About Thanh Duc Nguyen

    Dr. Nguyen is an assistant professor in the Departments of Mechanical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering at University of Connecticut (UConn, USA). His research is highly interdisciplinary and at the interface of biomedicine, materials and nano/micro technology. He has invented a platform technology which can create 3D microstructures of biodegradable polymers for applications in vaccine/drug delivery and medical implants. Recently, he has worked on a novel biodegradable piezoelectric polymer which can be used for monitoring biophysiological pressures and stimulating tissue growth. Dr. Nguyen’s works have been published in prestigious journals (e.g. Science, PNAS etc.) and highlighted in major media (e.g. The NewYork Times, the Gaurdian, BBC News etc.). He received several prestigious awards including the NIH Trailblazer Award for Young and Early Investigators, and the SME Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineer Award.

  • Jason Gui


    Vigo Technologies Inc.

    Drowsiness detection technology to prevent fatigue-induced accidents

    Jason Gui is the creator of Vigo, a smart headset to track drowsiness. Originally started as a project at the University of Pennsylvania, Vigo has raised venture funding to commercialize the technology. Vigo’s patented technology tracks over a dozen parameters in the wearer's eyes and head motion for signs of drowsiness, and provides a stimulation when they are dozing off. Vigo helps drivers stay alert at the wheel to reduce accidents caused by fatigue, and is currently in use in over 40 countries. The company also launched Vue, a pair of bone conduction smart glasses, which raised $2.2 million on Kickstarter, becoming a top selling smart glasses brand.


    About Jason Gui

    Jason Gui is the cofounder of Vigo Technologies, known for its two products: Vigo, a Bluetooth headset that helps drivers stay alert while driving, and Vue, a pair of stylish smart glasses built for everyday use. Vigo allows fleets to track the status of their drivers to reduce drowsiness related accidents, and is used in over 40 countries around the world, while Vue is known for raising a $2.2 million Kickstarter and becoming the top selling smart glasses of all time. Jason holds degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania School of Engineering and Marketing and Operations Management from the Wharton School. In 2017 Jason was named on the Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia list.