The Singapore government is determined to cultivate more entrepreneurial minds through its institutes of higher learning. During Switch 2017, Minister of Finance Heng Swee Keat announced two new initiatives for building the city-state’s “technopreneurial” talent.
First off, a nation-wide entrepreneurship training program called Lean LaunchPad will focus on helping research scientists and engineers learn about commercialization processes. The 10-week program is modeled after the US National Science Foundation’s I-Corps program, as well as US universities’ entrepreneurship programs.
Topics tackled include technology translation, development of proofs of concept, licensing, and starting a company.
The program is spearheaded by the National University of Singapore with offshoots into Nanyang Technological University, Singapore Management University, and the Singapore University of Technology and Design. It will be funded by the National Research Foundation (NRF) with US$6 million over the next five years.
The aim is to train more than 1,000 participants and increase the number of technologies that go to market by more than 300 in five years. 22 teams have been selected for the program’s first run, which started in August.
“By pushing researchers to get out of the lab and talk to potential users and customers, they will better understand users’ needs and think from customers’ perspective,” says professor Wong Poh Kam, director of NUS Entreprise and lead for the Lean LaunchPad program.
Professor Wong had previously highlighted the need for effective translation of research to commercial applications during Innovfest Unbound in May, where he unveiled a study on the Singapore startup ecosystem by NUS Enterprise.
The second initiative is Pollinate, an incubator that targets startups and university teams from Singapore’s polytechnics. Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Singapore Polytechnic, and Temasek Polytechnic will collaborate on Pollinate to build up growth-stage startups with ideas ready for commercialization.
The NRF will fund Pollinate with US$750,000 over the next three years. At the moment, there are 14 startups in Pollinate, with plans to grow to 30 in that time.
Pollinate will offer these startups access to the polytechnics’ students, alumni, and faculty, and help connect them to local and overseas industry partners. It will also get them to collaborate with small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) to address problems and encourage innovation in the SME sector.
Converted from Singapore dollars. US$1 = S$1.34