10th NUS GRIP Lift-Off Day propels a new wave of deep tech entrepreneurs

The NUS Graduate Research Innovation Programme (GRIP) held its 10th Lift-Off Day (LOD) on 30 November 2023, with 14 teams presenting their deep tech start-up ideas to over 400 attendees, including corporate partners, investors, NUS alumni and guests.

GRIP, NUS Enterprise’s flagship venture creation programme, provides comprehensive step-by-step guidance to cultivate passionate, budding entrepreneurs that aim to translate the University’s world-class research in deep technology into impactful start-ups. The GRIP LOD then serves as a platform for these start-ups to secure funding and support, build their networks, and explore possibilities to collaborate.

In his opening remarks, NUS Deputy President (Innovation and Enterprise) Professor Chen Tsuhan emphasised NUS Enterprise’s commitment to advancing innovation and entrepreneurship at NUS and beyond, through diverse initiatives such as experiential learning under the NUS Overseas Colleges, groundbreaking research translation and commercialisation through the Technology Transfer and Innovation office and catalysing deep tech start-ups through GRIP. These initiatives, along with the recent opening of the BLOCK71 Silicon Valley office, reinforces NUS Enterprise's dedication to fostering transformative ideas globally.

Ms Caecilia Chu, Co-founder and CEO of YouTrip, gave an inspiring keynote address at the event. She shared her entrepreneurial journey, narrating the early days of the multi-currency mobile wallet app and the challenges faced in fundraising, and establishing a presence with over one million users against larger competitors.


Trailblazing start-ups: A glimpse into the future

Eight start-up teams from GRIP Run 10 and six GRIP alumni start-ups presented their visions and innovative solutions for the future at GRIP LOD.

Among the start-ups in the GRIP Run 10 cohort was Hi-Transfer, a team from the NUS College of Design and Engineering and the Singapore Hybrid-Integrated Next-Generation Microelectronics Centre. Guided by Professor Aaron Thean, Deputy President (Academic Affairs) and Provost, the team has developed a revolutionary micro-transfer technology, inspired by geckos, that addresses the growing demand for smaller, thinner and more fragile semiconductors.

One other start-up from the current cohort, Geocore, a dynamic team from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, is making waves with transformative solutions that align with Singapore's strategic initiatives on climate resilience. Its advanced techniques utilise state-of-the-art geotechnical engineering for non-destructive and efficient real-time monitoring of seawalls — a critical line of defence against rising sea levels. Guided by Assistant Professor Chew Soon Hoe, Geocore stands out not only for its innovative monitoring but also for achieving a significant cost reduction, making their solutions both impactful and economically viable.


The next chapter: an invitation to innovators

Marking GRIP’s five-year milestone, NUS Enterprise unveiled three exciting new initiatives aimed at increasing its impact.

The first is the extension of GRIP to over 350,000 NUS alumni. This allows NUS alumni to join a vibrant ecosystem to harness a diverse pool of NUS intellectual property as well as tap on the venture creation programmes and the start-up ecosystem and community that surrounds it.

Next year, NUS Enterprise will also launch a customised programme under GRIP PRIME with the NUS School of Computing. Rooted in the lean and agile methodology well-known in the software engineering industry, this programme offers a systematic framework for software teams to test and refine their business ideas where swift time-to-market is crucial.

The third is the introduction of the "Seed-to-A Acceleration" growth programme, a focused effort to help GRIP founders navigate the critical transition from seed round to Series A funding.

Reflecting on GRIP’s incredible five-year journey, Associate Professor Benjamin Tee, Associate Vice President, NUS Enterprise, said, “NUS GRIP has grown to become one of Asia’s leading deep tech incubators and our start-ups have gained high traction in the capital markets, raising more than S$50 million in external funding to power their growth. I’m excited for what lies ahead and for our vision to achieve impactful solutions for the world.”


By NUS Enterprise