[InnoVEX FORUM 2022] 5G and AI Led Digital Transformation Creates More Opportunities for Startups, Enterprises, and Governments

 2022-07-08 By: InnoVEX Team

Interest in 5G and AI applications have grown as new innovations are discovered alongside new business models utilizing the 2 technologies. As one of the key events in Asia’s startups ecosystems, InnoVEX has been, as Mr. Sudeepto Roy (Vice President of Engineering, Qualcomm Incorporated and Lead of Regional Strategy and Engagement for Qualcomm Technology Licensing (QTL)) said, a “platform for innovative companies to come together for a valuable exchange of ideas and experiences”. While the COVID-19 pandemic was ongoing during the onsite InnoVEX 2022, the hybrid event has allowed startups and enterprises alike to connect and share valuable insights.

Organized by Qualcomm and MOST, the forum titled “Opportunities in Digital Transformation with 5G & AI” focused on the 2 technologies as well as how intelligent connections made possible by 5G and AI will open new possibilities for startups to leverage their innovations. The forum introduced 6 startups from the Qualcomm Innovate in Taiwan Challenge (QITC) program who also shared their advanced solutions based on 5G and AI.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Sudeepto Roy stated that powerful technologies such as 5G and AI provide vital catalysts for technological breakthroughs in all industries regardless of sector and size. As we approach an intelligently connected world, 5G and AI will have a larger presence and become essential for industrial and societal digital transformations. This opens opportunities for startups to cooperate with enterprises who can share their foundational technologies as well as provide guidance and resources for startups.

Representing the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), Ms. Andrea Hsu, Director General of the Department of Academia-Industry Collaboration and Science Park Affairs, MOST shared that acceleration of digital transformation has brought new opportunities. With efforts from the local industries and support from international companies, Taiwan is able to face challenges in the post COVID era and continue to excel globally. As the coming of the 5G era is accelerated by the ongoing pandemic, cooperation between government agencies, startups, and enterprises has introduced innovations and sharing of key technology resources as well as helping all sides network and grow.

5G+AI: The Ingredients Fueling Tomorrow’s Innovations

The speakers in the first panel discussed how 5G and AI can be applied to develop new core businesses and implemented for digital transformation. The speaker was joined by Mack Chen, Senior Manager in Marketing of Qualcomm; Leo Guo, Founder & CEO of Nuwa Robotics; Jay Chen, CEO of Avalanche Computing Taiwan Inc.; and Frankie Chen, CMO of Spatial Topology Technology.

Nuwa Robotics won first place in QITC 2021 with products ranging from AI companions, education robots, family robots, professional robots, etc. Nuwa Robotics also provides platforms for developing robots; supplying not only the robots’ software development kit (SDK) while developing their robotics platforms and robots as a service. Avalanche Computing is specialized in AI model training; lowering the threshold for AI talent transformation and digital transformation. They focus on developing the optimization for AI systems to accelerate AI model training & deployment by providing a concise computing architecture and accelerate AI deployment in every industry. Spatial Topology assists enterprises to improve digital transformation through indoor positioning equipment and optimizes enterprises’ operational efficiency. Their solution enhances virtual event experience by facilitating a more natural interaction through 3D reconstruction and digital avatars.

AI will require a large amount of data transfer from training to deployment and the high speed, low latency, large bandwidth offered by 5G; whether Sub-6 or mmWave will be necessary. 5G will also be the backbone of new computing infrastructure as it makes large scale data transmission possible; such as for distributed computing on the edge devices. AI can process data more efficiently and operate based on their training model to make predictions. While developers might have had to make sacrifices on their AI models due to insufficient data transfer, this problem will no longer be an issue with 5G. Implementing AI with a smart system such as robots with the high speed connection made possible by 5G will increase the smart system’s reach and serve more customers at the same time.

The main draw of 5G and AI is how it can reduce time needed and cost requirements. When integrated with other forms of computing, the high processing power of AI and fast data transmission made possible by 5G will be able to open more possibilities such as remote computing, acceleration, etc. At the same time, companies aiming to develop their own AI might benefit greatly from low code AI tools or even no-code development tools. In addition, 5G and AI can also benefit user experience as remote or no-contact interactions were needed to control the spread of communicable diseases.

For startups, one of the more important aspects is software development as well as talent training that have become more important to make sure the startups retain their unique selling proposition (USP). Cooperation with other companies and other startups should be able to supplement a startups’ lack of resources as it develops its own capabilities. Startups will also need funding and capital just as much as they need to solve problems currently in the market; whether by offering equivalent services at a lower price or by offering better services and solutions. In addition, startups will also need to find the right talents, the right resources, as well as the right clients to help founders focus more on the developing businesses without worries on their continued operations. On the other hand, startups will also need to be able to wisely utilize the resources, talents, and funding available to them while finding more of what they need.

Digital Transformation Fueling Growth Opportunities Across Industries

The second panel discussion featured Yvie Tai, Director of Business Development at Qualcomm & Program Manager of Qualcomm Innovate in Taiwan Challenge (QITC); Kim Chang, Founder & CEO of Smart Tag; Aryan Hung, Founder & CEO of iHH; and Matt Lai, Founder & CEO of LINGBO. Titled “Digital Transformation Fueling Growth Opportunities Across Industries”, the panel focused on new solutions made possible by using 5G and AI innovations. Today, 5G and AI have attracted global attention and when combined, they become key factors in fueling digital transformation, bringing real transformation to all industries and society. The change in society has shifted the patterns of global industries and lifestyle; especially as innovation can be used to connect cities and every industry to promote sustainability and digital equality for modern services and infrastructure.

Smart Tag focuses on smart manufacturing through AI and data analysis with the lowest learning cost and high return on investment. They help clients to upgrade their machines and production line with their plug-and-play Smart Manufacturing AIoT solution for cross-machine, cross-platform data collection, and analysis. iHH’s end-to-end encrypted transmission technology makes the transmission routes of all smart terminals more direct and simpler with higher protection & confidentiality. Their innovation lowers costs and can be applied for remote communications such as remote working, learning, and living. LINGBO launched a platform for smart gas management that can upgrade traditional gas shops into the cloud for digitization using IoT; Their solution monitors gas usage in households and automatically informs shops for direct delivery.

Digital transformation today happens faster as urgency and necessity for digital transformation in various industries become apparent. The 5G era now enables a brand new era of edge computing and startups are often ahead of the times with their dreams and visions. However, it is also important to note that digital transformation requires time and preparation; even when it is in the execution phase. As such, it is important to find ways and pursue methods that can offer simple and painless upgrading methods. When the upgrade process requires installation of hardware or software, clients might have some reservations when the process takes too long or disturbs their operations for too long.

The pandemic has further increased the need for digital transformation as various businesses have to adjust their operations for safety and health purposes. Most of the businesses and industries that had to adapt to the new operations method will have had no experience in the new methods and they would face various issues that may actually deter them from going forward with their digital transformation efforts. These pain points would be opportunities for the enterprising startup as solving them would be a lucrative opportunity indeed.

Certain traditional businesses and industries might not be interested in digital transformation as they do not see the need to change and are content in their comfort zone. Clients often have their own concerns such as unwillingness to change and concerns on safety or privacy which makes certain types of workarounds necessary to achieve the original purpose as well as to address the clients’ concerns. New business models and digital transformation need additional safety measures or contingencies which may make certain news functions necessary. Generally, innovation in traditional industries will require destructive innovations or only superficial changes would be made. One important idea for startups to remember is that their solution should focus on solving the needs of their customers and if the solutions are offered to B2B clients; then the needs of the customers’ clients would also need to be considered.

Digital transformation is an arduous process that startups in the field might face difficulties not only in acquiring the technologies needed for their proposed solutions, but also to secure funds or a robust enough network that they can rely on for expansion or even operations. While startups can attempt to go at it alone, it would be best for them to cooperate with large companies when needed and if appropriate. However, finding partners can be difficult, especially ones who can help with proof of concept or certification. The good news is, once the solution has been proven to function as intended, the knowledge, technology, and innovation can be applied to different industries that need similar solutions. It is also important to remember that clients or users can also help startups enter the global markets as a way to go international with their products and their clients.

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