NUS Enterprise hosts first Youth Open Mic featuring student entrepreneurs at BLOCK71 Singapore's Open House

Bringing together aspiring student entrepreneurs, startup founders and professionals in the entrepreneurship field, the BLOCK71 Singapore Open House saw a juxtaposition of participants who gained an overview of the vibrant local tech start-up scene and an understanding of how BLOCK71 fosters innovation, collaboration and opportunities to support the growth of start-ups across Asia.

More than 300 students and staff from universities, polytechnics, and Institutes of Technical Education (ITE) attended the Open House, attesting to a growing interest by institutes of higher learning in promoting innovation and entrepreneurship; and integrating that as part of student life. Start-up founders and professionals in the community interested in learning more about BLOCK71 and the NUS Enterprise ecosystem made up the other significant group of attendees.  

Held on 24 August 2023, the one-day event provided students from institutes of higher learning in Singapore and aspiring entrepreneurs with diverse opportunities to network with industry experts, potential co-founders, and like-minded peers who share a passion for turning their ideas into innovations, with an eye on the Asian market.

In his opening speech at the event, NUS Associate Vice President (Enterprise) Associate Professor Benjamin Tee shared about the evolution of BLOCK71 since its inception in 2011, as well as his personal journey as a start-up founder. “The process of building a start-up will allow you to grow not only emotionally, personally but also professionally. I hope the startup founders and entrepreneurial peers you meet today will inspire you to advance your entrepreneurship journey,” he said, encouraging more youth to take on the challenges of building their own ventures.

BLOCK71 is an initiative by NUS Enterprise built on collaborative and strategic partnerships with established corporations and government agencies. Part of a global network of innovation and entrepreneurial gateways to and from NUS, it serves as an ecosystem builder with the aspiration of growing start-ups that can potentially become the next generation of impactful enterprises for Asia and the world.

Among the highlights of the event were a series of talks where start-up founders and industry experts shared valuable insights into the start-up ecosystem; a Youth Open Mic organised in collaboration with the Action Community for Entrepreneurship (ACE Singapore); a Start-ups Showcase, held in partnership with PIER71 and ICE71;  and a Career Fair that featured start-ups from the areas of AI, sustainability, Industry 4.0, cybersecurity, and maritime.

An inaugural Youth Open Mic, in collaboration with ACE Singapore

Youth leaders and entrepreneurs from five universities, a polytechnic, and the ITE shared their experiences of founding start-ups while studying. They also shared their aspirations for the future of entrepreneurship in Singapore, including their hopes of closer collaboration across faculties and institutions, and expressed their excitement about the potential to create an impact beyond Singapore’s shores through a better understanding of real-world problems.

Ask Me Anything with industry insiders

Participants also had the chance to hear from and network with mentors from NUS Enterprise and start-up founders from across the University’s start-up ecosystem. In particular, they highlighted the opportunity of founding a start-up in the areas of AI, healthcare, Industry 4.0 and sustainability. These industry insiders included:

  • Greg Blackwood Lee, Founder and Chairman of Genuine Interest Ltd
  • Kris Childress, CEO of a Singapore-based clean tech startup
  • Prusothman Raja, Co-Founder and CEO of Twoplus Fertility
  • Suwira Teo, Co-Founder of Aleph Digital
  • Rayner Loi, Founder of Lumitics
  • Aleks Farseev, Founder of SoMin.ai

Mr Rayner Loi reflected on his journey of building his company out of BLOCK71 Singapore beginning in 2017 as he shared about why he decided to found a start-up. “I want to build my team and my company with people who believe in the same mission”, Rayner explained, adding that he holds a deep-rooted belief that technology has an ability to bring about huge impact – and that power should be leveraged wisely.

Start-ups showcase and career fair

Founders from 16 start-ups also took the chance to exhibit and promote job opportunities in sectors ranging from cybersecurity to clean tech, AI and Industry 4.0, demonstrating the diversity of start-ups supported by BLOCK71 which leverages expertise from NUS’ 17 faculties and 37 research institutes.

The participating companies included Aires Applied Tech, Axis Now, Bytesforce, Clubsizy, Curated Culture, Doinn, Green Cop, Mi Cloud, MIMO Motor, Moonbeam, Nasho, Rescale Lab, Responsible Cyber, Somin.AI, Stratificare and Vibefam.


By NUS Enterprise