S$20 million boost to supercharge deep tech innovations and venture creations at NUS


The National University of Singapore (NUS) launched two initiatives at the NUS Deep Tech Venture Showcase on 18 March 2024, to propel deep tech innovation and enhance the entrepreneurial ecosystem at the University. The initiatives include the S$10 million Innovation Fellowship and Venture Creation Awards to boost the translation of cutting-edge research and innovation by NUS faculty and researchers into impactful solutions; and the enhanced Graduate Research Innovation Programme (GRIP 2.0) where the university has committed S$10 million to provide more pre-seed funding to successful teams.

In his welcome remarks, NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye emphasised the University's strong commitment to actively addressing some of the world’s most pressing challenges from climate change to urbanisation pressures, and the critical need for clean water and sustainable energy solutions, through impactful education, research, and enterprise. He said, “This new funding commitment of S$20 million will serve as an impetus for our researchers to be bolder and quicker in exploring and realising the translational potential of their research.”

Speaking at the event, Guest-of-Honour Mr Heng Swee Keat, Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies, stressed the significance of deep tech in tackling today’s global challenges, as well as the importance of mobilising different players and adopting an intentional and proactive approach to venture building.

Sharing how the new initiatives will build on the innovation and entrepreneurship momentum and align with Singapore’s current Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship 2025 plan, NUS Deputy President (Innovation and Enterprise), Professor Chen Tsuhan said, “Research, Innovation, and Enterprise is an integral part of our mission to foster a dynamic, lifelong learning environment within NUS. We nurture curiosity and the entrepreneurial spirit while providing the support to bring ambitious impactful ideas to life. Through these efforts, we shape the future and contribute to Singapore's strong position as a leading Global-Asia node for technology, innovation, and enterprise."

Encouraging deep tech entrepreneurship with the Innovation Fellowship and Venture Creation Awards

The Innovation Fellowship and Venture Creation Awards will spur NUS faculty and researchers to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset as they pursue their research. The awards recognise and incentivise these innovators who are at varying stages of their academic careers, to commercialise their research into tangible solutions.  

Awardees will receive a two-year grant and guidance from NUS Enterprise to support them in their research commercialisation journey. This initiative aims to enrich the pipeline for new venture creation from Singapore’s deep tech innovations. Successful awardees could be further supported via GRIP in the next phase of their deep tech venture journey.

GRIP 2.0: Accelerating deep tech innovation through enhanced funding and support

Over the past five years, GRIP has nurtured and provided funding support to more than 430 aspiring founders. Building on the programme’s success, NUS has set aside S$10 million for GRIP 2.0, providing successful teams up to S$250,000 in funding, which is 2.5 times more funding than the initial S$100,000.

As part of GRIP 2.0, NUS Enterprise has also formed strategic partnerships with three leading venture capital firms. This includes Legend Capital, SOSV Investments LLC, and Vertex Holdings, which collectively manage more than US$10 billion in assets. The collaboration with the venture capital firms extends beyond financial support to include coaching for GRIP start-ups and support in increasing their investment readiness, specialised market access and deep industry expertise. Through direct engagement facilitated by GRIP, these venture capital firms will offer practical expertise and networking opportunities, equipping start-ups with tailored guidance to propel them forward in their venture creation journey.

Summing up the benefits and value the newly introduced initiatives bring to our start-ups, faculty, researchers and NUS alumni, NUS Associate Vice President (NUS Enterprise) Associate Professor Benjamin Tee said, “At NUS Enterprise, we are uniquely placed to have access to the latest frontier research and breakthroughs at one of the top universities in the region, while providing access to a global start-up ecosystem. The new Innovation Fellowship and Venture Creation Awards and GRIP 2.0 are concerted, complementary efforts to accelerate deep tech innovation and venture creation for maximum impact. These initiatives will provide academics, researchers as well as NUS alumni access to a supportive ecosystem for the greatest chance at success.”

Labs to lives: Shaping our future with deep tech innovations

At the NUS Deep Tech Venture Showcase, eight deep tech innovations, ranging from autonomous cleaning robots and membrane technology to edible fruit coatings that extend the shelf-life of tropical fruit, also took the spotlight.

The showcase was attended by over 160 guests including NUS start-ups, venture capitalists, government officials and NUS faculty and researchers who had the opportunity to network and interact with the start-ups exhibiting their deep tech ventures.

The event’s keynote speaker, Dr Wen Hsieh, Founding Managing Partner, Matter Venture Partners, shared his insights into the intricacies of creating a deep tech start-up ecosystem. He began by defining deep tech and highlighting its distinctive features and possibilities. Dr Wen also elaborated on the importance of leveraging deep tech.

The keynote address was followed by a fireside chat with GRIP alumni and NUS start-up founders on the topic of "Labs to Lives: Pushing the Boundaries, Shaping our Future with Deep Tech Innovations". The panel, moderated by Mr Sam Tsui, Venture Architect, GRIP, featured Dr Viknish Krishnan-Kutty, CEO and Founder of Cellivate Technologies, Mr Rishab Patwati, CEO and Co-Founder of Hivebotics, and Mr Wan Chunfeng, CEO of Solv8. These founders shared their entrepreneurial journeys, illustrating how their deep tech innovations progressed from laboratory prototypes to the creation of real-world practical solutions, making significant impacts across various industries and addressing critical societal challenges to enhance lives. The fireside chat concluded with the start-up founders sharing their plans and highlighting their next entrepreneurial endeavours.


By NUS Enterprise