Three steps to capture value

HOPE Technik, the makers of the Singapore Civil Defence Force’s Red Rhino and other cutting-edge technology, share their philosophy towards innovation.
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May 2006: Four locally trained engineers decided not to take the traditional career path of going from a technical role into management. They wanted to remain in their profession – safety boots, pencil sketches on napkins and all – and HOPE-fully come up with innovative solutions that would challenge the best incumbents in the industries they ventured into. HOPE Technik was thus born.

Ten years later, we have grown into an award-winning group of companies with over 130 teammates specialising in robotics, vehicles and defence. In Singapore, you would know us as the creators of the Red Rhino and the Mass Decontamination Vehicle used by the Singapore Civil Defence Force. We have also developed a space plane demonstrator for Airbus Defence and Space, among more than 300 contracts delivered in over a dozen countries.

At HOPE Technik, our opinion is that the hyper-connected world means that if you are not better than the competition, you will have no reason to exist as a company. The only way is to provide the best solution for the client. Where a solution is the sum of its constituents, it is how we take the same ingredients and brew it slightly differently to deliver something that will allow our clients a better win. That is how we define innovation.

Our philosophy of pushing the norm risks that the final “brew” does not taste anything like what we were hoping for. When that happens, we turn to one of our guiding principles: “Our best intentions and efforts are put into production, and if there are any problems no blame goes to anyone, we will all fix it.” Innovation needs an environment that allows its players to make mistakes.

While innovation is the big buzzword, just being different does not equate to creating a better solution. The goal of innovation is to develop a new solution that creates tangible gains for the user.

To achieve this, we see innovation in three phases of value capture.

Innovation starts with a problem statement that needs a solution.


Innovation does not start with finding applications for new technology; instead, it starts with a problem statement that needs a solution. For this, the best voices to hear from are the subject matter experts: the people who have worked the ground for decades, who intimately know where and what the pain points are.

From here, exploratory development needs to be done: prototypes, test bedding and experimentation happens here. If it works, we go to the next step, but if it fails, that is in itself a success: in innovation, failure is a valid result in the discovery stage.


The step that has the greatest impact is taking the “discovery” and making it mainstream. This completes the product evolution cycle and delivers real-world benefits. Adoption is much harder than it seems; it requires a paradigm change in processes, policies and job scopes. It is only when the entire organisation embraces this change that the adoption will reach full implementation.


This is the rarefied opportunity. Innovation is a global movement that has never stopped. Much of the world struggles with discovery, and the masses enjoy the adoption.

After much resources are ploughed into an innovation, a larger opportunity is to take the solutions and export them. In doing so, new local industries and companies can be created and scaled outside our borders.

Few challenges are truly unique to a country. Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative is world leading, and with the solutions that we create in this national effort, we can also take and export them to the corners of the world, letting them know what “Made in Singapore” is all about.

The author, Mr Peter Ho, is CEO of HOPE Technik, a home-grown engineering company that presented at the PS21 ExCEL Convention in November.

    Nov 1, 2016
    Mr Peter Ho
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