NUS launches new undergraduate full-term scholarships with start-up seed funding option to boost innovation and entrepreneurship

The inaugural awards are made possible by a gift from Dr Stephen Riady 

The National University of Singapore (NUS) has introduced a new bond-free scholarship that is specially conceived to support outstanding students who aspire to be entrepreneurs and arekeen to develop their entrepreneurial skills. 

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Ms Kee Qian Ling (left) and Ms Lynette Lau, along with four other students, are the inaugural recipients of the Stephen Riady Young Entrepreneur Scholarship

NUS has played a significant role in building Singapore’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, while pioneering many entrepreneurship initiatives locally and overseas. Today, NUS students benefit from a holistic entrepreneurial education through initiatives such as the NUS Overseas Colleges Programme and the NUS Enterprise Summer Programme. The University has also established incubation spaces such as BLOCK71 and The Hangar at NUS Enterprise to create a dynamic environment for start-ups to grow and thrive.

This new scholarship and the recently announced Graduate Research Innovation Programme (GRIP), which promotes entrepreneurship amongst graduate students, post-doctoral researchers and staff, further demonstrate NUS’ commitment in developing the entrepreneurial community on campus.

Scholarship tailored for young entrepreneurs

To secure this unique scholarship, which offers access to mentorship and guidance from NUS Enterprise – the entrepreneurial arm of NUS – students need to demonstrate a keen interest in creating start-up companies, on top of academic excellence and outstanding leadership qualities. Scholars will be able to participate in the prestigious NUS Overseas Colleges Programme, during which they will study in partner universities and intern in start-ups in entrepreneurial hotspots overseas to gain entrepreneurial and international exposure. 

The new scholarship is open to freshmen from all disciplines and will cover the tuition fees and living allowances for four years of study at NUS. Upon graduation, scholarship recipients who are keen to start a new business venture can apply for seed funding of up to S$50,000. In 10 years, the University expects as many as 50 start-ups to be spawned by these scholars. These start-ups can go on to play a major role in advancing economic and social development in Singapore and the region.

Dr Stephen Riady, Executive Chairman of OUE Limited and renowned philanthropist, is the pioneer benefactor supporting this exciting initiative. He said, “Entrepreneurs are drivers of innovation, and they will play an increasingly significant role in Singapore’s economic progress, especially in the digital age. I am therefore pleased to support NUS with this gift, which recognises the challenges and impact of the entrepreneurial spirit, and also underscores my commitment to enable young entrepreneurial talent to develop their fullest potential. It is my hope that this new scholarship could cultivate the next wave of entrepreneurs who can help Singapore to stay ahead amid challenging times.”

NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye said, “We are deeply grateful to Dr Stephen Riady for his generous gift to nurture and support young, entrepreneurial students. We are heartened that he shares our vision to promote entrepreneurship and innovation among our undergraduates. The Stephen Riady Young Entrepreneur Scholarship encourages our bright students to think big and pursue their entrepreneurship ambitions, and it also resonates with our national efforts to grow the next generation of local champions.”

“Our new scholarship is dedicated towards nurturing entrepreneurial talent for Singapore. This initiative will also accelerate NUS’ continuous efforts in building a conducive and vibrant ecosystem that nurtures entrepreneurs and start-ups capable of creating and deploying powerful solutions to benefit businesses and communities in Singapore and beyond. We hope more donors will come forward to support us in this meaningful cause,” Prof Tan added.

In the new academic year that has commenced in August 2018, six freshmen received the inaugural awards of the prestigious scholarship. Awards made possible through Dr Riady’s gift will be known as the Stephen Riady Young Entrepreneur Scholarship.

Aspiring young entrepreneurs 

One of the recipients of the Stephen Riady Young Entrepreneur Scholarship is Kee Qian Ling, an NUS Faculty of Engineering undergraduate who is very passionate about entrepreneurship and technology. During her secondary school days, Qian Ling co-designed Barcode Alarm – a phone application that helps users conquer the snooze button as it forces them to scan the barcode of household items such as toothpaste tubes or cereal boxes to turn off the alarm. The app won the MIT App Inventor Most Innovative App of the Month Award in January 2016. 

Qian Ling participated in competitions, pitching innovative business ideas such as NeedQMeh – an app to tackle the issue of long physical queues at restaurants by allowing diners to queue through the app from the comfort of their homes, as well as Virtual Ready – a computer software program that trains healthcare workers to handle emergency situations through virtual reality simulations. The latter business pitch won the Best Social Impact award at the Youth Innovation Challenge 2017 that was organised by a local university.

Qian Ling views entrepreneurship as a way to address societal issues and bring about positive impact through out-of-the-box solutions. She said, “I am delighted to receive the Stephen Riady Young Entrepreneur Scholarship, and I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in the NUS Overseas Colleges Programme. The mentorship and guidance that will be offered by NUS Enterprise will be invaluable to my journey and growth as a young entrepreneur.” 

Another recipient of the Stephen Riady Young Entrepreneur Scholarship is Lynette Lau Ka Yee, who is studying Business Administration at NUS Business School. Lynette caught the entrepreneurial bug when she was young, selling snacks that her mother bought from overseas to her primary school classmates. She decided to study business in a polytechnic to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to start a business. While at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Lynette was the Vice President of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Club where she was involved in many innovation- and entrepreneurship-related activities. She even co-founded a small events planning business which operated for 10 months. 

She currently runs a start-up called PICXELS that provides instant photography services at corporate events. Lynette looks forward to applying for seed funding under the scholarship when she graduates. She shared, “Entrepreneurship is very exciting because I could create something from scratch. My current start-up has its limitations and I hope to start a scalable business in the future. If I can successfully secure seed funding under the scholarship, I could potentially turn this dream into a reality.”