Here’s $240,000 for your new tech venture

NUS GRIP’s new executive programme hopes to unveil more winning start-ups like SinGrow, which boasts the first white strawberry variety developed in a tropical country 

Office workers will be able to try out their new tech business ideas without leaving the safety of their day jobs – and get investment funding of up to $240,000 to boot — thanks to a new tie-up.

A new six-month executive programme by venture capital firm Antler and NUS’ Graduate Research Innovation Programme (GRIP) will allow budding entrepreneurs to keep their current jobs while finding the right partners and launching their new ventures involved in “deep tech” — which refers to scientific discoveries or engineering breakthroughs with the potential to create profound impact.

Antler and NUS aim to enable and invest in around 30 deep tech start-ups annually, supporting four categories: bio and health-tech, sustainability and environment, industry 4.0, as well as artificial intelligence.

With Antler’s methodology, founders with software or deep tech skills will be matched to those with business background, to create a strong founding team. NUS will provide teams with access to its rich repository of research-based technologies and innovations, which the teams can tap on to formulate their start-ups. 

With a strong talent pool and substantial R&D investment, Singapore and NUS have the potential to build more and greater deep tech companies.

$240,000 funding over two phases

The programme will run in two phases for a total of six months. Under Phase 1, participants will form a team to identify and validate a business idea. At the end of Phase 1, teams will be evaluated for an investment of US$100,000 (about S$140,000) by Antler.

Companies selected by Antler for investment will enter Phase 2 to further develop their prototype and business case to be market-ready. At the end of Phase 2, companies will be evaluated for a further funding of S$100,000 by NUS. Total funding for the two phases adds up to about $240,000.

Talents reluctant to leave their day jobs

Mr Mike Nikou, Partner for Capital at Antler, said many entrepreneurial talents are tied by “golden handcuffs” to their jobs in leading corporates, late stage start-ups, or universities.

“They want to start their own companies but are unable to take the ‘leap of faith’ and quit their jobs; at least not before building their teams, validating their ideas and securing initial investments,” he added.

Professor Freddy Boey, NUS Deputy President (Innovation and Enterprise), noted that Singapore has committed more than $30 billion in the last decade to establish the country as a global research and development hub.

He said, “We also have a strong scientific base with more than 8,000 PhDs being trained locally every year. With a strong talent pool and substantial R&D investment, Singapore and NUS have the potential to build more and greater deep tech companies.”

Applications for the joint executive programme are open until 5 January 2020. Details are available in the press release.