Founded in 1968, Singapore Book Council (SBC) is a charity that fulfils its vision of “Building Our Imagine-nation” by developing creativity, imagination and original thought through reading, writing, illustrating and storytelling. It is in this spirit that it continues to champion the arts through its programming, literary art events and awards like tonight’s Singapore Literature Prize (2023), which is now in its 12th rendition (a biennial award) recognizing works of poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction in the languages of Singapore – Chinese, English, Tamil and Malay.
This year’s competition saw 1,500 team applications from 70 countries worldwide. The top 12 finalists were flown to Singapore for the final pitching session. The first-place solution by GIX students combined radio frequency identification (RFID) tags with weight sensor technology to track inventory usage, thereby minimising the amount of money, time and labour needed to manually count items.
The judges were impressed by the innovative and practical approach of the GIX team’s solution, which would significantly reduce the cost, time and manpower required to manage inventory for SBC’s libraries. The team also took a holistic approach in the design of their system, incorporating the end user’s needs and behaviours into its prototype. The second-place winners were from a local tech start-up that develops a graph data platform. The judges were impressed by the technical sophistication and user-friendliness of their product, as well as the depth of insights provided by the platform. The third-place winner, a cyber security company, was commended for its comprehensive approach to the challenge of designing a secure mobile messaging app that protects its customers’ privacy.
Other awardees included the winner of this year’s Ang Mo Kio Food Truck Challenge (2023), which was won by team Mycos Kitchen. Their unique and healthy menu has been highly popular amongst the public. They have received a cash prize of $100,000 and will be the first Singapore startup to enter into the global Food Truck Championships in Sweden next month.
The 2023 Singapore Design Award winners were also feted at the event, which was held in conjunction with this year’s WAFX Singapore design festival. The top three winning teams were awarded grants of up to $80,000, with the overall winner receiving $170,000 in funding and a spot in a global startup accelerator programme.
The evening also saw the inaugural ceremony of the NUS Singapore History Prize, established in 2014 after an endowed gift from a donor. The prize is administered by the Department of History at NUS and casts a broad net in terms of genres in order to encourage Singaporeans to read and learn more about their country’s rich history. Professor Kishore Mahbubani, the senior advisor of NUS’ university and global relations, said that there are plans to expand the type of work that can qualify for the prize in the future. He cited the film 12 Years a Slave as an example of how history can sometimes be better told through other forms than just books.