Philip Yeo Initiative celebrates fifth anniversary

28 March 2019 | Entrepreneurship
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Saurus Crane, one of the artworks auctioned off to raise funds for the Philip Yeo Initiative Endowment Fund

The Philip Yeo Initiative (PYI) commemorated its fifth year with an anniversary and fund-raising dinner for more than 200 guests at the NUSS Kent Ridge Guild House on 22 March. The event was to celebrate the growth and achievements of the more than 100 individuals who have benefited from PYI’s programmes.

Named for Mr Philip Yeo, a distinguished bureaucrat with 40 years of public service particularly in the economic and defence sectors, the initiative is the brainchild of several of his protégés who hoped to groom a new generation of leaders embodying Mr Yeo’s passion and commitment. Since its inception, the initiative, which is administered by NUS Enterprise, has benefited 18 individuals through the Philip Yeo Innovation Fellows Programme and more than 100 students through the Philip Yeo Grant.

The Philip Yeo Innovation Fellows Programme supports passionate individuals in pursuing the causes they wholeheartedly believe in with funding of up to $20,000, mentorship and guidance from Mr Yeo and his accomplished protégés, as well as networking opportunities with relevant contacts. The Philip Yeo Grant awards bursaries to students in the NUS Overseas Colleges programme, giving talented entrepreneurs-to-be a chance to intern at start-ups at entrepreneurial hotspots around the world without having to worry about living costs.

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Guests viewing an exhibition to learn more about the unique features of PYI, such as its focus on people rather than on projects and the individualised support offered to its beneficiaries, and the PYI's Fellows, Associates and Grant awardees' motivations and dreams for SG100

In her opening address at the anniversary dinner, PYI Committee Chairman and National Gallery CEO Ms Chong Siak Ching said, “While we had set up the Philip Yeo Initiative to support and develop change-makers of tomorrow, we in turn, find ourselves energised and inspired by the PYI Innovation Associates and Fellows. They are taking the road less travelled. We are heartened by the different ways they want to make Singapore and our world better.”

Dr Lily Chan, CEO of NUS Enterprise, urged guests, many of whom have experienced Mr Yeo’s style of leadership, to step up as mentors or resource persons for the current and future batches of the PYI.

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NUS President Prof Tan Eng Chye (far left) receiving a cheque for the Philip Yeo Initiative Endowment Fund from Ms Chong (2nd from right) and Mr Yeo (far right)

Fund-raising efforts at the event included a live auction of three artworks, as well as sponsorships for seven special programmes such as providing enrichment workshops to children from low income families and empowering unemployed youth with digital literacy skills. At the end of the evening, NUS was presented with a cheque of over $500,000 raised for the Philip Yeo Initiative Endowment Fund. The funds will be put towards the grooming of the next generation of leaders, to grow the spirit of MAD COW (Make A Difference, Change Our World) through the Philip Yeo Innovation Fellows Programme and Philip Yeo Grant.

In a video screened at the event, Mr Yeo said, “The key to any successful organisation, any country — is talent. Their background does not matter. Some people bloom later. If you are willing to sweat it out, you can rise. I believe in nurturing people. Talent can be groomed.”