Note: Images provided by Hope Technik.
Hope Technik is a 10-year old Singapore company, started by four engineering graduates from the National University of Singapore. It employs more than 110 employees, and has completed projects from 18 countries in the past decade.
I visited its offices a couple of weeks ago, right next to the Jurong river. Before we continue this story, I want to say something — and I admit I might just be speaking about my own prejudices here. For some reason Singaporeans don’t seem to give enough credit to Singaporeans. Over the years, I’ve come to recognize this odd doubt in myself, and overcome it through seeing the work done by local entrepreneurs and companies, companies like Hope Technik.
The first floor of Hope Technik’s offices houses a massive garage, where Isuzu D-Max tracks are stripped down to their bare bones, and then rebuilt into muscular Red Rhino fire trucks (officially ‘Light Fire Attack Vehicles’) for the Singapore Civil Defense Force.
To my ignorance, I had no idea that these Red Rhinos were designed engineered and built right here in Singapore, by a Singapore company. Hope Technik, working together with the SCDF, has been building the last four generations of Red Rhinos, which is now in its fifth incarnation.
The entire garage is an eye-opener, like one of those custom garages you’d see in a Fast and Furious movie. As we look at the molds for the custom fiberglass body panels, my host reveals something I’d wondered but never considered: Why does the SCDF have both the larger fire trucks and these Red Rhinos?
The answer is that the SCDF needs smaller fire trucks to maneuver through tight, urban areas like multistory carparks and small roads, which would be difficult for a large fire truck to squeeze into.
Next to the Red Rhinos is a massive Mass Decontamination Vehicle, also built in conjunction with the SCDF. The MDV serves as both a personnel carrier, as well as a decontamination center — like a big shower bus, almost, where chemical warfare victims can quickly wash themselves down.
I tour a drone lab, where Hope Technik is working on what they call the Water Spider, a drone that can take off and land on water. Developed in collaboration with the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), the Water Spider is co-funded by MPA’s Maritime Innovation & Technology (MINT) Fund.
We also talk about Hope Technik’s space plane demonstrator, a project in 2014 with the French Airbus Defence and Space company, in which a 4.6m space plane prototype was designed, built and launched 100km off the coast of Singapore, to test the flight conditions following a return from space.
A rehabilitation exoskeleton is in the works, which is being developed in collaboration with the National University of Singapore, which would be strapped to a patient’s limbs and can guide them to walk. Exoskeletons which would help users lift heavy weights with ease are being developed; think of them as proto-Iron Man suits.
I’ve visited several multi-national tech companies here in Singapore, which are selling but aren’t making product locally. It’s heartening to see that somewhere in Singapore, there are still local companies that are inventing, designing and engineering things, making the future and not just selling it.
Note: This article was first published on 18th August 2016.