Forging connections through entrepreneurial programmes

Over two intensive weeks at the NUS Enterprise Summer Programme in Entrepreneurship 2022, more than 200 students from 13 countries gained insights and know-how in transforming an idea into a successful start-up while being introduced to the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystems in Singapore, Southeast Asia and beyond.

The programme welcomed students from countries including Brunei, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, the United Kingdom and Vietnam. Two classes were conducted concurrently over the same period, for undergraduates and postgraduates respectively.

This year, NUS was once again honoured to collaborate with its long-time partner, Temasek Foundation, to support the participation of 100 highly motivated and talented students from across Southeast Asia, represented by students from close to 20 universities.

In his welcome address at the opening ceremony, NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye highlighted the vast potential of Southeast Asia’s growing cities. Singapore, he noted, has established itself as a global innovation hub, offering business opportunities and comprehensive support for a growing pool of dynamic start-ups. He cited, for instance, the success of NUS-backed start-ups like Intellectual Property database provider PatSnap and online marketplace Carousell. “Start-ups based in Singapore are well-positioned to venture into the emerging opportunities of the large and growing Southeast Asian market. NUS is excited to be part of this growing ecosystem.”  

Attending the ceremony was also Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Temasek Foundation, Mr Ng Boon Heong. Mr Ng called upon participants to turn discussions into opportunities and translate them into meaningful actions.

With the support of Temasek Foundation and the unique focus on Southeast Asia, NUS has had the opportunity to serve as the regional hub for top universities, to jointly co-create an innovative, vibrant and enterprising ecosystem. The strong networks built through the NUS Enterprise Summer Programme will facilitate the flow of talent, ideas, and solutions for the benefit of the region.

Starting up the engine

Facilitated by lead instructor, Prof. Tom Kosnik – Partner at FoundersX Ventures – participants were introduced to concepts about entrepreneurship through lectures and workshops. They had the opportunity to learn from industry experts, who provided insights into their careers and respective industries through panel discussions and sharing sessions. Thanks to these sessions, participants gained a deeper understanding of the different facets of entrepreneurship such as technology entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship, and corporate intrapreneurship, as well as concepts such as pitching, branding and go-to-market strategies.

To learn how start-ups take off from an initial idea, participants visited incubation spaces such as THE HANGAR by NUS Enterprise, BLOCK71 Singapore, and NUS Enterprise@Singapore Science Park, and interacted with representatives from start-ups based in these locations. Participants also learned how start-ups are tackling social issues to create a better and more inclusive society through panel discussions and workshops featuring social enterprises like the Social Collider, Learning Vessels, Jaga-Me, Dignity Kitchen, Green Nudge and Kampung Kampus. Visits to companies such as Alibaba, Changi Airport Group, Grab and ShopBack enabled participants to gain deeper insights into innovations and cultures within fast-growing organisations.

Understanding Singapore and Southeast Asia

Through participation in language classes and cultural activities like making Indonesian Batik, playing the Indonesian Anklung ─ a traditional musical instrument ─ and learning the traditional Thai dance, participants were able to immerse themselves in learning about ASEAN cultures. Additionally, they attained tips about doing business in Southeast Asia through lectures and panel discussions.

Pitch perfect

During the two weeks, participants were asked to form teams, create a start-up idea and pitch to real-world investors at the end of the programme. Experienced start-up mentors were also invited to help guide and refine the teams’ pitches. Using the knowledge and skills they had gained, the teams honed and presented their pitches on demo day. The best pitches from each track were awarded prizes at the grand finale.  

Forming life-long friendships and connections

By the end of the programme, participants had formed great friendships with their international peers and connected with entrepreneurs and people from the entrepreneurship ecosystems. Through the ‘amazing race’ and heritage trail activities, international students got to experience the authentic Singaporean culture, led by their Singaporean student hosts. The newly formed friendships were put to the test when they pitted against each other during the dragon boat race at the Singapore River. Braving the waters, participants were pushed to be adaptable and learned the importance of teamwork in the entrepreneurship journey.

To new beginnings…

The NUS Enterprise Summer Programme culminated with a grand finale featuring performances by the local and international participants. Lots of laughter and smiles were exchanged and tears were seen as the participants bid farewell to their new friends. This finale marked the beginning of new friendships, new ideas and possibly new collaborations. NUS Enterprise looks forward to supporting these budding entrepreneurs in their growth journey.


By NUS Enterprise