Entrepreneurs on the rise at NUS

Entrepreneurs on the rise at NUS

Inside six two-storey bungalows in Kent Ridge, some 200 entrepreneurial students and alumni are busy developing start-ups in bedroom-sized incubators.

From perfecting wireless charging phone sleeves to providing a one-stop handyman service, these budding entrepreneurs at Prince George's Park are part of the National University of Singapore's push to become Asia's university hub for entrepreneurship.

Earlier this month, the university announced a series of initiatives, including investing an additional $10 million into the work of NUS Enterprise, the university's entrepreneurial arm.

NUS also intends to increase the number of student entrepreneurs - which includes those taking entrepreneurship modules or participating in similar activities - from the current 1,000 to 2,500.

It took time for the right components, such as the policies, facilities and funds, to be put in place, said Dr Lily Chan, chief executive officer of NUS Enterprise.

"We now have a base to build something sustainable and to offer more opportunities for students interested in entrepreneurship," she said.

The university also plans to increase its incubator capacity and is looking beyond Prince George's Park and other campus entrepreneurial facilities. Currently, these can accommodate some 50 start-ups and about 200 students and alumni.

In less than 10 years, the entrepreneurial community at NUS has created more than 350 start-up and spin-off companies, with nearly $120 million raised in the past five years from financial backers and venture capitalists.

And several student entrepreneurs have taken a year's leave to work on their start-ups.

"In Singapore, the fear of failure is ever so evident in our culture," said second-year business student Kenneth Lou, 22, a co-founder of Novelsys, a hardware consumer technology start-up.

"But since there are more platforms available for entrepreneurs, we should seize them. These don't come along often."

One of these is the NUS Overseas Colleges programme, which offers students the opportunity to intern with start-ups in cities around the world while taking classes at partner universities such as Stanford University in the United States.

The university is to expand the number of locations in the programme from six to eight and increase the number of students from 200 to 300 each year.

"The overseas colleges provide students with immense opportunities for learning, networking and exposure," said life sciences graduate Lyon Lim, 30, co-founder of PigeonLab, a start-up which provides interactive question-and-answer platforms at events.

"The entrepreneurial scene has grown so much over the years. There are definitely greater opportunities for student entrepreneurs now."

calyang@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Oct 27, 2014.
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