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Teng Fang Yih | Sept. 4, 2008
Awards and award programmes. You can live without them, but theyre everywhere.

Awards and award programmes. You can live without them, but theyre everywhere. Organisations from the public and private sectors, it seems, routinely give them away. We, here at FBM Asia, have many of them. We hand out IT Excellence Awards, under the auspices of MIS Asia, to enterprises that have derived exceedingly high operational efficiencies through the use of ICT for a given year. We confer CIO Awards each year to organisations that have deployed ICT to drive strategic growth, build new businesses, create new markets and transform industries. Computerworld Singapore and Computerworld Malaysia bestow special Customer Care Awards and Readers Choice Awards honours upon ICT vendors for treating their customers well and giving their customers great products, respectivelyevery year.

The local paper here in Singapore, The Business Times, has award programmes. I am sure the other local rag does, too. The government, of course, has its fair share of handouts for what is often packaged as innovation. Our tech-loving government eagerly dispenses awards to organisations and individuals working hard to create, grow or refresh some new, mature or old business model through the use of technology. Or the creation of new businesses in the tech industry.

And the educational institutions and their resident divisions do a great deal of back-patting, rewarding industrious students with national attention, international exposure and some money toowhen they win an award. Take for example the National University of Singapore (NUS) Entrepreneurship Centre, NUS Business School Alumni Association and NUS Entrepreneurship Society. Together, they put together what has been billed as the nation-wide business plan competitionStart-Up@Singapore.

Now, my question of the day, regarding a particular category in a specific award programme. The Open Category in the nine-year-old Start-Up@Singapore Competition 2008 was taken by a setup called Pic2Pic. You can read all about it on the Action Community for Entrepreneurship (ACE) site. Well, you can read all about Pic2Pic winning this award, and also a little about the winners of the other categories, past and present.

What you cannot find on the page is information on the other finalists who also had, what I think, more compelling cases for award-winning status. If my memory serves me right, the list of startups that went to the final round and lost out to Pic2Pic, included one that was working on technology for helping children deal with epilepsy, one eminently practical green solution that minimised either water or energy consumption on a grand scale, and one that catered to young parents in Asia.

Pic2Pic, as you will read on the ACE page linked above, is a service that leverages on [sic] a huge pool of online artists to edit, style and touch-up digital photos for free. Sean Seah, who leads Pic2Pic, is quoted saying more about his teams special service. (Suppose) youve got a photo that doesnt look nice, he started out. How do you put it on your blog? We have a service that can change your photo to (one that is) very retro-preppy and pop-art [sic] (so that) you can share it with your friends.


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