NUS Enterprise and BoP Hub collaborate to boost social innovation

Social innovation in Singapore has been given an added boost with a new initiative by the NUS Enterprise and Base of Pyramid Hub (BoP Hub). The two parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on 26 Nov to collaborate on the Joint Initiative of Social System Innovation (JISSI).

Professor Freddy Boey, NUS Deputy President (Innovation & Enterprise) and Mr Jack Sim, Founder of BoP Hub, signed the MOU with Professor Chee Yeow Meng, NUS Associate Vice President (Innovation & Enterprise) and Ms Liu Yan, Project Lead of BoP Hub, as witnesses. The BoP Hub’s board members and NUS Enterprise staff were also at the ceremony which was held in The Hangar by NUS Enterprise, home to NUS start-ups and entrepreneurs on campus.

Harnessing the strengths of NUS Enterprise and BoP Hub

Conceptualised earlier this year, the joint initiative harnesses the strengths of NUS Enterprise and the BoP Hub. The former, the entrepreneurial arm of the University, supports and nurtures innovation and entrepreneurship in Singapore and beyond. The latter is a Singapore-based business accelerator platform with a mission to create an efficient marketplace for communities at the base of the pyramid by supporting entrepreneurship and connecting partners.

BoP Hub’s founder, Mr Jack Sim, is also the founder of the World Toilet Organization. He has worked for 20 years to raise awareness among entrepreneurs and involve them in solving problems faced by underserved and marginalised communities around the world.

Working with Mr Sim at BoP Hub is a team of advisors, mentors and volunteers who bring a wealth of connections and experience.

Through this collaboration, NUS Enterprise and BoP Hub will provide:

- Mentorship, incubation support and resources to scale and grow social projects and start-ups initiated or formed by members of the NUS community;

- Multidisciplinary programmes to help those from the NUS community take their first steps towards creating impact-driven enterprises;

- Support for corporates with social impact objectives and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) goals.

At the signing ceremony, Prof Chee expressed high hopes for this initiative. Prof Boey and himself had already seen the potential in working with the BoP Hub since last year, he said. He reaffirmed the abundant possibilities that this joint initiative could bring. For example, JISSI could provide mentorship and networking support for startups and innovation and entrepreneurial projects of NUS students to become full-fledged entities.

Mr Sim conveyed similar sentiments, sharing that the joint initiative could encourage the growth of entrepreneurial spirit with a social focus. It will benefit NUS students aspiring to enter the social innovation space and support budding start-ups and social entrepreneurial efforts.

Work for the joint initiative began in early Oct 2020. The team successfully organised an information session on 12 Nov that featured a panel of speakers from diverse portfolios sharing on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, multi-generational employment and jobs, AgriTech, renewable energy and water and sanitisation. Separately on 20 Nov, feasible social solutions were showcased via a virtual event quirkily titled ‘Jack and the Beanstalk: Rethinking Social Innovation for Optimal Impact’. These events reached out to the NUS community and provided them with a platform to connect with JISSI to develop their innovative ideas.

JISSI also offers mentorship in three sectors -- food and agriculture, renewable energy, water and sanitation -- to NUS graduates from 2018 to 2020 who are interested in participating in the NUS Resilience and Growth Innovation Challenge. BoP Hub has released five problem statements for participants to work on. All eligible NUS graduates are welcome and encouraged to work with the JISSI to submit group proposals. Groups that clinch the grant will receive up to S$50,000, with each member receiving a monthly stipend of S$1,200. Find out more about the JISSI here.

By NUS Enterprise