A peek at investable tomorrow's human-technology interface, today.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Knowledge System - Health Informatics

I often imagine a Knowledge System sprawling across the diversity of Internet will become pervasive within the next 12 months... That is the time when we no longer need to define specifications to facilitate the interoperability of information and integration of content and services across and between vertical markets. That is where real people and virtual intelligent agents readily collaborate analysing data and solving complex problems in science, engineering, medicine, business, and other endeavors. With A.I., semantically tagged Web sites, wikis, and blogs, as well as social networks, vertical search engines crawl domain models, coordinate and trigger vast arrays of niche web services. Will that happen? In 12 months?

Maybe yes. I come across a budding company in Malaysia recently - The Amorphous Group ( No, CommerceNet has no investment into the company (yet). Interestingly, Amorphous owns a large Knowledge System in the dynamic field of Health Informatics. Health Informatics is increasingly recognised as an essential area of specialty. Some people like to define it, aptly as "applied information technology that involves the critical integration of medical sensitive information, resources via technology delivery to improve the quality of healthcare services". Why CommerceNet thinks Amorphous can be world class? Because it fits the four simple 'need' test below:

- One, create something really useful;
- Two, improve life of the people;
- Three, make right something that is wrong; and
- Four, keep something that is right.

Putting Amorphous' model to the test, we get:
- They are making the healthcare better by creating robust and accessible health Knowledge System;
- Secondly, the Knowledge System increases the service quality of healthcare and also the life of people;
- Thirdly, the system sets right what that is chaotic now, and put into system the knowledge of whereabout are the health resources; and
- Fourthly, the Knowledge System helps prevent the early demise of affordable healthcare!

Accuracy of healthcare information is highly critical. Yet, it is rather difficult to achieve an integrated, result oriented and effective interaction of the health and IT fields into a Knowledge System. Amorphous has carved a niche to become one of the foremost health informatics practitioners in the region. The company is still privately owned, run mostly by young medical doctors. They have made a dent in the Malaysian market and is now eyeing Singapore and the rest of ASEAN. Maybe, maybe... this is where CommerceNet can look into supporting seriously...

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Catalyst

I had joined CommerceNet Singapore more than 5 years now. To think about it, one of the best part of CommerceNet is that we played an active role in many risky but visionary ideas. After simple due diligence, we invest and also arrange for investments into many types of endeavours, often taking a strategic equity stake in companies in return for the resources we supply.

These catalyst investments allow "ignition starts", where the small amount of money and generous assistance help the entrepreneur move beyond the "budding idea" stage, to having a business plan, working prototype and viable team. Many times, we are not looking into immediate returns. Most of the ventures we get ourselves into need rather long maturity period. We usually take on a 60-months timeframe view for each initiative that we support.

Often, the biggest problem is the lack of ideas... yes. Really. Lack of good ideas. So, we have a unique situation where there are many who are willing part with their money, seeking good early investments - but sadly, lacking a match. And I am not talking about Singapore alone.

In the course of duty, I had to chase emerging new ideas from Egypt to Mauritius, from Pakistan to Korea. It not not so easy to organise resources from the industry, plans and executes key strategies all at the same time. The constant need to be actively on the look out for initiatives that pioneer and advance tomorrow's technology today is getting more difficult. This is especially when we also have to keep up a strategic role as a key influencer, encouraging innovation and driving progress not only within the business and research communities, but also with governments' officials in the region.

I am coming to terms that more and more, CommerceNet have to become a VC - the 'Vulture Capital' variant, looking at visionary but failing ventures that are already invested by someone else. The ability to turn them around, match them with other players in the ecosystem, recycle their IPs and creations back into the ecosystem is becoming really important. This simple move may be more important now than the original idea of jump starting new ventures. Now it is more about ongoing ventures needing a 'catalyst' to succeed. And we will be there.