Top 10 Innovators Under 35 in Asia

Top 10 Innovators Under 35 in Asia

by November 21, 2017

MIT Technology Review announced the top 10 young Innovators under the age of 35 in the region.

The 10 ‘Innovators Under 35’ are given tribute annually at MIT Technology Review’s EmTech Asia conference. The list recognises the development of new technology or the creative application of existing technologies to solve global problems in industries such as biomedicine, computing, communications, energy, materials, web, and transportation.

EmTech Asia’s Disruptive Innovation Partner, SGInnovate, will once again host the ‘Innovators Under 35’ segment. Steve Leonard, Founding Chief Executive Officer says,

“We are thrilled to be supporting IU35 for the second consecutive year. At SGInnovate, we strongly believe that ‘deep-tech’ startups will be critical players in tackling global challenges in new ways. These young scientists are working in areas such as energy, transportation, artificial intelligence, and biomedicine. All of these are vital to the future of humanity. We want to encourage and help these amazing men and women to have the courage and confidence to bring their research work to the market – where millions of lives could potentially be transformed.”

Now in its fifth edition, the “Innovators Under 35 Asia” program received a total of 132 nominations from talented researchers, inventors and entrepreneurs from countries including Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand, for consideration for the 2018 list. This year, the list of 10 brilliant researchers and entrepreneurs come from Singapore, Australia and Taiwan. They are:

Ajay Prakash Kottapalli, Singapore
Singapore MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART)
Nature-inspired miniaturised sensors that create new standard of care in biomedical flow sensing.

In 2013, Ajay received his Ph.D from Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore, along with a Singapore-MIT Alliance Graduate fellowship. Between 2014-2016, he was a Postdoctoral Associate and as Research Scientist at SMART. In 2013, 2015 and 2017, Ajay was a visiting scholar at MIT. He is currently a Project Investigator (PI) for research projects funded by the SMART Innovation Center and the CENSAM Research Initiative.

His research focuses on nature-inspired sensor technologies, biomimetic materials, MEMS/NEMS, nanotechnology, biomedical devices etc. In 2016, Ajay founded a startup company called Sensornomics Pte Ltd which envisions to create new standards of care in biomedical devices. He is a young entrepreneur who leads a team of 4 researchers. He has published about 45 peer-reviewed papers, authored 1 book and held patents in sensor technology.



Anjali Jaiprakash, Australia
Queensland University of Technology
Light field retinal diagnostic system to decrease preventable blindness globally.

Dr Anjali Jaiprakash is an Advance QLD research fellow at the Australian Centre for Robotic Vision and Queensland University of Technology. She is a Robobiologist with a PhD in Applied Science and a Master’s degree in Biotechnology and Business. RoboHub announced Anjali as one of the world’s 25 Women in Robotics you should know about in 2017.

Anjali won a 2017 Tall Poppy Science Award aimed to recognise the achievements of Australia’s outstanding scientific researchers and communicators. Anjali was also a finalist at the top 5 under 40 in 2015 (A UNSW and ABC RN initiative) that recognized Australia’s next generation of scientific thinkers.

Anjali works at the intersection of medicine, engineering and design, with a transdisciplinary approach to develop medical devices that translate robotic vision into affordable systems that can be used to improve healthcare outcomes. This includes a light field retinal diagnostic system to replace the expensive and complex cameras currently used to detect abnormalities such as glaucoma or macular degeneration and decrease preventable blindness.


Khoo Bee Luan, Singapore
Singapore MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART)
Designing microfluidic models to deliver real-time therapeutic read-outs with direct translational relevance for cancer.

Dr Khoo Bee Luan is a biomedical scientist focused on innovating microfluidic devices for clinical utility. She leads a research team under the Young Investigator grant award by NMRC to utilise a microfluidic device for cancer management and evaluation, termed as the circulating tumour cell (CTC) Cluster Assay.

The CTC Cluster Assay aims to mimic parts of the tumour microenvironment in vitro by integrating a confined fluidic niche using microwells with hypoxia and tumour-associated immune cells. She has also developed microfluidic biochips for isolation of primary cancer cells, diseased blood cells or malaria-infected cells with relevance to early disease detection.


Jiashi Feng, Singapore
National University of Singapore
Enable computers to grow learning ability with dynamic neural networks.

Dr Jiashi Feng is currently an Assistant Professor with Department of ECE, National University of Singapore. He received his B.E. degree from USTC, China in 2007 and Ph.D. degree from NUS in 2014. He was a postdoctoral researcher at University of California, Berkeley from 2014 to 2015.

His current research interest focusses on AI, machine learning and computer vision. He has published over 100 research papers in machine learning, deep learning, object recognition and big data analysis. He receives the winner prizes for ILSVRC2017 object localization, MS-Celeb-1M face recognition, and best paper award from TASK-CV with ICCV 2015.


Wesley Zheng Guangyuan, Singapore
Developing high energy density lithium batteries for automotive, aerial and renewable storage applications.

 Dr Zheng is currently a Scientist in A*STAR and an Adjunct Assistant Professor in NUS. He received his B.A. and M.A. degrees in Chemical Engineering from University of Cambridge, and did his PhD and Postdoc at Stanford University under the tutelage of Prof Yi Cui and Prof Steven Chu, respectively.

His research work focused on developing high capacity electrodes for the next-generation lithium batteries. Dr Zheng is a recipient of the Material Research Society Graduate Student Award, and the National Science Scholarship from A*STAR. Dr Zheng also co-founded a venture-backed startup (volans-i) to develop high-payload, long-range delivery drone.


Chun-Hao Huang, Taiwan
Merging functional genomics and artificial intelligence for disease detection and treatment.

Dr Huang is a Cancer Biologist, Genetic Engineer and AI Entrepreneur. He pioneered the establishment of fast and flexible genetically engineered mouse models using gene silencing and editing technologies, and led the discovery of therapeutic strategies for treating liver cancer and inflammatory bowel disease.

He also invented methods to identify disease biomarkers that predict drug responses, and applied machine learning to the study of genes. Dr Huang is UNLEASH Sustainable Development Goals Talent and Winner, Fellow of the 64th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, and received Google Scholarship to attend Singularity University in NASA and co-founded CLINICAI to early detect cancer.


Min Hao Wong, Singapore
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Developing unique nanosensor constructs for smart agriculture application.

Min Hao Wong is currently a Chemical Engineering graduate student at MIT. His PhD research involved the development of unique nanosensor applications for agriculture (Nat. Mater. 17)  His work has been featured in global media outlets such as FOX, Forbes, TIME, BBC, and CBS.

BostInno named his work as one of the top 7 inventions to come out of MIT in 2016. Min Hao is also currently actively running Plantea, a start-up company focused on agricultural nanosensors. He is also the co-president of the South-East Asia Club, vice president of the MIT energy club, and a guest lecturer for 10.585 Engineering Nanotechnology.


Qilin Wang, Australia
Griffith University
Transforming wastewater treatment plants into energy generating facilities using an on-site renewable chemical.

Dr Qilin Wang is an Australian Research Council (ARC) DECRA Research Fellow & Lecturer at Griffith University in Australia. He received his PhD from The University of Queensland (Dean’s Award) in Australia in 2014. Dr Wang’s research focuses on innovative biotechnologies for maximizing energy recovery/production from wastewater.

As a Principal Investigator (PI) or Co-PI, he has been awarded 7 competitive grants with a total research funding of ~$AUD 3.6 Million from Australian government, State government, industry and university. He has to date published ~ 80 fully refereed journal papers, most of which were published in Q1 Journals.


Weibo Gao, Singapore
Nanyang Technological University
Exploration of spin photon interface for the application in quantum network and quantum information processing.

Weibo Gao, graduated from University of science and technology of China as bachelor and PhD student. Then he worked in ETH Zurich as postdoc from 2010-2014. Currently, he is a Nanyang assistant professor in NTU.

His research in quantum information and quantum photonics is published in several world-class journals such as Nature, Nature Physics, Nature Photonics and Nature Communications. Previously he has won Marie-Curie Fellowship in European Union, the recipient of National 100 Excellent Doctoral Dissertation Award in China, and Singapore National Research Foundation fellowship awards.


Yok Hian Chionh, Singapore
Tychan Pte Ltd
Rapidly developing therapeutic solutions against deadly infections.

Yok Hian Chionh believes that the war against infections can be won if we proactively create systems that rapidly design cures, respond to, and treat patients during outbreaks. As a scientist, he discovered fundamental properties of genetic coding that enabled pathogens to survive hostile environments. As a drug developer, he helped bring an anti-Zika therapeutic from bench-to-bedside.

And as a maverick, he is exploring radically different science-based regulatory frameworks to expedite regulatory approvals of therapeutics while meeting safety and efficacy requirements. When he is not reading or writing scientific literature, he is probably drinking coffee, putting together balance sheets, or coming up with more crazy ideas.


Featured image via EmTechAsia Facebook page