Coworking catchup with Leo Fan, ICON-recipient

We like to keep tabs on the superstar entrepreneurs who pass through the Canberra Innovation Network as they go from having an idea to changing the world. This week it was exceptionally easy, as one of our favourites is also a proud member of our Coworking family! Here’s our chat with Leo Fan, Director & Founder of SafeSynergy.

Tell us about your company and how it came to be.

SafeSynergy helps transport operators identify safety hazards. We use an AI-power engine to assess the workplace and send notifications to workers, which empowers them to prevent incidents.

I’m a professional workplace safety consultant by trade, so in 2021 when I founded SafeSynergy it was with a passion for using latest technologies to help people get home safely. I work with like-minded people from different backgrounds to develop our product and introduce it to the transport market.

What Canberra Innovation Network programs, connections and workshops have helped along the way?

The failure of my first ICON (Innovation Connect grant) application turned out to be a gift! I learned so much during the application process in 2020, from not even knowing what a pitch was to being unsure about the problem I was hoping to solve. In hindsight, my safety idea gained perspective and I realised I need to do more.

So, I took part in the Idea to Impact program. This helped me further developed my idea and pitch, and grew my network. This is also where I met my business mentors.

In June of 2021, I applied once again for ICON, and am humbled and excited to have been successful this time around. Being recognised amongst such strong competition is an honour, and I couldn’t have gotten to where I am now without the support of CBRIN and my mentors.

A special ‘thank you’ goes to Irene Zhen; she pushed me to apply to ICON again and helped me turn my unsuccessful application into my best failure!

Why is innovation important to you?

Innovation can save lives. Technologies and new ideas can help people do their jobs in safer ways. Technology, such as drones, allows workers to access dangerous areas that workers can’t (or shouldn’t) get into. New ideas, such as AI that detects fatigue, save lives (consider drivers, passengers and pedestrians).

Being a safety professional, I’m passionate about understanding the latest technology and applying it to real-world environments to protect people in the transport industry.

What did you see as the need in the market?

Workers don’t always report hazards. Companies need new ways to identify them. If hazards and incidents aren’t reported, being known and lessons learnt, they’ll continue to occur and safety culture doesn’t evolve.

What do you bring specifically to the industry?

Our AI-powered engine identifies hazards for the rail industry. It sends notifications to workers, allowing immediate actions and intervention.

What brought you to the CBRIN Coworking space, and what do you find most valuable about working here?

Working in the Coworking space allows me to meet other great entrepreneurs. I’m surrounded by people on the same journey, who share their wins, losses and strategies around obstacles. Hearing their successful stories motivates me to continue.

Do you have any advice for newbies to innovation?

“Clarity is power. The more clear you are about what you want, the more likely you are to achieve it.” – Billy Cox

Finally, what are your thoughts on Canberra?

It’s an entrepreneur-friendly city with great supports for innovation. Don’t be shy to reach out at CBRIN!

Thanks, Leo! We love working with you and know you’re going global.