The NUS Enterprise Summer Programme from 9 to 20 July brought together 100 entrepreneurially minded students from 28 universities in 21 countries to discover the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem in Singapore and the region. Started in 2006 by NUS Enterprise, the University’s entrepreneurial arm, the programme extends NUS’ entrepreneurship education mission beyond Singapore to students from around the world.
In his opening address, NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye highlighted the programme’s focus this year on entrepreneurial opportunities in Southeast Asia, saying, “Southeast Asia is one of the fastest growing consumer markets in the world, and it is poised to grow even further. The region abounds with ever-growing demand and new opportunities for entrepreneurs who are able to strike when the iron is hot…This is a wonderful opportunity for all of you to gain ideas and perspectives, and to forge lifelong friendships and networks.”
This year, NUS Enterprise partnered Temasek Foundation International to incorporate the TF International-NUS STEP Entrepreneurship Initiative 2018, giving 60 youth leaders from Southeast Asia the opportunity to benefit from the programme. Said Nattapon Srichan, Year 5 geography student at Chulalongkorn University, Thailand, “When I came here, I had no knowledge on entrepreneurship. In two weeks, I’ve gone from nothing to having a big idea of how to make changes in society. I’m excited to bring back the lessons I’ve learned and solve the problems in my country.”
The students participated in lectures, talks and networking sessions with professors, start-up founders and thought leaders. Among the speakers were Mr Rishi Israni, co-founder of Zimplistic and inventor of Rotimatic, a machine for creating flatbread; Consulting Professor for NUS Overseas Colleges and seasoned venture capitalist Mr Tom Kosnik who conducted a boot camp on New Venture Creation; and Mr Isaac Tay, NUS alumnus and co-founder of honestbee who shared his journey to becoming an entrepreneur.
Experiential learning took place outside the classroom, with visits to DBS Asia X, A*START Central and BLOCK71 at Singapore’s start-up hub Launchpad@one-north, as well as local start-ups and social enterprises Shopee, Dignity Kitchen and Mangrove Learning. Society Staples, a local social enterprise that promotes social inclusion for Persons with Disabilities through sports, led a unique dragonboating experience, showing how sports can be made accessible to the deaf and visually impaired communities.
To cap off the programme, students were divided into teams of five to come up with their own innovative start-up idea, which they then pitched to a panel of judges on ”Demo Day”. Among the many projects, one that stood out and received top marks from the judges was a gamification mobile app to explore a new city and meet like-minded travellers.
Hana Farhana, a Year 4 Geography and Development student at the Universiti Brunei Darussalam, Brunei, shared her key takeaways. “The programme didn’t just teach me the 101 on how to be an entrepreneur; it also taught me soft skills like communicating with people from different nationalities, and how to think critically and improvise when things don’t go your way. As the vice-president of a non-governmental organisation in Brunei that helps to empower underprivileged families, I want to apply what I’ve learnt from the programme to improve the financial sustainability of my organisation.”
NUS students who participated in the programme also gained valuable insights. Tan Qing Lin, a Year 1 student at NUS Business, said “The NUS Enterprise Summer Programme brought together like-minded peers from around the world who want to be entrepreneurs to learn and work with one another. It allowed me to learn more about what others are doing. I realised that there are people who are younger than me who are doing a lot already, and that motivates and inspires me to do more.”
By NUS Enterprise