Innovating with impact: Supporting breakthroughs in health, beauty and fashion

9 April 2024 | 5 minutes

The landscape of innovation continues to evolve as we advance through 2024, pushing boundaries and redefining what is possible in both the technology and sustainability sectors. In this article, we highlight recent breakthroughs that exhibit this ongoing transformation. These endeavours in medical technology, beauty and sustainable fashion not only mark significant advancements in their respective fields but also underscore a global shift towards responsible and inclusive innovation. 

SynPhNe: a leap forward in neurological rehabilitation

The journey of SynPhNe, a medical technology enterprise emerging from Singapore, epitomizes the pinnacle of innovation in healthcare. With a mission to revolutionize the rehabilitation of stroke and neurological conditions, SynPhNe has introduced a wearable device that is a beacon of hope for many. This device harnesses the power of neural feedback and gamification, integrated with advanced data analytics, to offer a personalized rehabilitation experience. Patients can now partake in their recovery journey in both clinical settings and the comfort of their homes, a flexibility that was once beyond reach.

SynPhNe's origins can be traced back to the innovative ecosystem of the Nanyang Technological University of Singapore (NTU), where it was nurtured under the NTUitive program and supported by stalwarts like the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology Centre. Its recent Series A funding round, led by Event Horizon, marks a significant milestone, securing $5 million to broaden its impact across the United States, alongside its existing markets in Singapore and India.

Allies of Skin: redefining skincare through science

Allies of Skin, a premium skincare brand born in Singapore, stands at the forefront of the beauty industry's evolution towards science-backed, sustainable products. Its recent Series A funding, a monumental $20 million aimed at propelling the brand's expansion into the US market, signifies a new era for skincare enthusiasts and investors alike. This strategic infusion of capital will bolster marketing efforts, spur new product development, and facilitate the formation of a US-based team.

Founded by Nicolas Travis in 2016, Allies of Skin quickly distinguished itself with formulations that combine dermatologist-approved ingredients like retinoids and antioxidants. Its commitment to efficacy and sustainability has attracted a discerning customer base, including celebrities and influencers who champion the brand's ethos. With an growing list of bestsellers in the market, Allies of Skin is poised for international acclaim, already available across 36 countries and partnering with over 40 retailers globally.

SukkhaCitta: ground-breaking sustainable innovation

Denica Riadini-Flesch founder of SukkhaCitta (center), with members of her team, celebrating their Rolex Award for Enterprise

Innovation's reach extends beyond technological advancements, encompassing initiatives that promote sustainable practices, challenging traditional industry norms. Denica Riadini-Flesch, the visionary founder of the ethical fashion house SukkhaCitta, has been celebrated for her profound impact on the fashion industry with the prestigious Rolex Award for Enterprise. This honour is a part of the Perpetual Planet Initiative, recognizing her efforts to create one of the world’s first regenerative farm-to-closet supply chains in Indonesia, emphasizing environmental restoration and social empowerment. 

Supported by Joel Shen, Corporate Partner and Head of Withers Tech Asia and the Indonesia practice at Withers, Denica's work through SukkhaCitta has significantly impacted over 1,400 people. This includes farmers to master weavers and seamstresses, with plans to reach 10,000 people by 2030. Her efforts to regenerate 1,000 hectares of degraded soil further exemplify her commitment to environmental sustainability.

SukkhaCitta’s ground-breaking work has also attracted the support of the Ant International Foundation (AIF), a notable ally in the cause of sustainable development. AIF was set up by the Ant Group under the guidance of Stacy Choong, Private Client and Tax Partner at Withers, introduced by Joel who is a long-time advisor to the group. The grant awarded to SukkhaCitta marked AIF’s inaugural project in Southeast Asia, showcasing a strong commitment to fostering sustainable initiatives within the region. The collaboration between SukkhaCitta and AIF came about through a strategic introduction made by Joel and Stacy, reflecting the power of network and partnership in amplifying the reach and impact of sustainable practices. 

SukkhaCitta, translating to "happiness," has been instrumental in creating hundreds of jobs with fair wages for those who craft high-end clothing using traditional and sustainable techniques. By integrating traditional agricultural and textile production techniques with business skills, SukkhaCitta has enabled rural artisans to monetize their work effectively, connecting them with customers across 32 countries. 

This project has shown me what you can achieve when you put women and nature at the heart of your decisions

"This project has shown me what you can achieve when you put women and nature at the heart of your decisions,"  reflects Denica, underscoring the transformative power of sustainable innovation.

Denica is just one of the many trailblazers making waves in Indonesia. Withers' association with KARNA Partnership, a dynamic and multi-service law firm based in Indonesia, brings a wealth of local expertise and knowledge that complements our international reach. 

The path forward

"The vision and technology behind SynPhNe are not just about advancing medical technology; they're about reshaping how we approach rehabilitation globally. This investment is a pivotal moment for the sector, demonstrating the scalability of impactful healthcare innovations," Joel notes, underscoring the critical role of innovations in healthcare. His expertise and strategic guidance were instrumental in navigating the complexities of this investment, spotlighting the potential of Singapore's burgeoning life sciences sector.

Allies of Skin's journey is a beacon for the beauty industry, illuminating the path towards integrating science with sustainability.

Similarly, Joel's role in facilitating Allies of Skin's latest funding round is a testament to his vision for the future of beauty - one that is rooted in scientific integrity and ethical practices. "Allies of Skin's journey is a beacon for the beauty industry, illuminating the path towards integrating science with sustainability.  This funding is not merely a financial achievement but a significant leap towards transforming how we conceive and consume skincare products," Joel expands.

The stories of SynPhNe, Allies of Skin, and Sukkhacitta are emblematic of the broader shift towards innovation that is not only technologically advanced but also socially responsible and environmentally sustainable. As Joel Shen aptly puts it, "These milestones reflect a growing understanding within the investment community and beyond that innovation must go hand in hand with sustainability and social responsibility."

As we continue to chart the path of innovation, the achievements of these leaders and their projects are a source of hope and inspiration. They exemplify how creativity, when aligned with ethical considerations and sustainability, can lead to significant improvements in health, beauty, and societal well-being, setting the stage for a future where innovation and responsibility coexist harmoniously.

This document (and any information accessed through links in this document) is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from any action as a result of the contents of this document.


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