The latest BLOCKbuster fostering innovation and collaboration in China
As one of the fastest growing cities in China, Chongqing is strategically located as a gateway to China’s west. Now, it looks set to host more connections through NUS with the establishment of BLOCK71 Chongqing, the eighth and latest location within NUS Enterprise’s global network of overseas hubs.
BLOCK71 is an ecosystem builder and global connector that helps start-ups from NUS and Singapore scale to a new level through its wide network of innovation and entrepreneurial connections. It also allows these start-ups to leverage on NUS’ expertise in academia, research, talent cultivation, tech transfer and commercialisation to expand into new markets.
“The establishment of BLOCK71 Chongqing will continue to strengthen NUS' engagements and activities across China to create more cross-border business collaboration and opportunities for start-ups in both Singapore and Chongqing. We look forward to help these start-ups spur their growth and scale internationally in industries aligned with each city’s strategic focus," said Professor Freddy Boey, NUS Deputy President (Innovation & Enterprise)
Opening doors for an inaugural batch of start-ups
BLOCK71 Chongqing aims to enable a two-way flow of NUS start-ups and technologies to new markets, as well as to promote access to education and innovation programmes in NUS for Chongqing students and entrepreneurs.
Located in the Chongqing Liangjiang New Area, which is positioned as a new focus area for technology and entrepreneurship, BLOCK71 Chongqing focuses on four scientific research areas aligned to Chongqing’s economic and industrial background: advanced materials and manufacturing, intelligent sensing and artificial intelligence, modern logistics, and finance and financial risk management.
Its inaugural batch of six start-ups is currently receiving comprehensive incubation support in areas such as technology commercialisation, dedicated mentorship, access to networks, investment and financing. They are:
1. Airuisi (Chongqing) AI Technology: a start-up that uses AI technology to improve efficiency in detecting different diseases. Its core product SELENA+, jointly developed by the Singapore Eye Research Institute (SERI) and NUS, can efficiently identify image data to accurately detect diseases such as diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration.
2. Chongqing Zhongchenhuiyu Technology: an edutech start-up that uses Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) technologies to combine teaching content and innovate traditional teaching methodology for schools and education institutes. Through the integration of AR/VR, cloud computing and big data, students can acquire knowledge through an immersive learning journey.
3. Chongqing Yuechenshuzhi Technology: a joint venture by Singapore company Aptiv8 IT Solutions and a local partner from Chongqing to accelerate the development of green buildings and smart construction in Chongqing.
4. Chongqing Gushengyuan Technology: a start-up focusing on the research and development of new material. Founded by NUS alumnus Dr Yan Binggong, the start-up has plans to develop battery-related materials and devices, as well as collaborate with industry players on new energy vehicle manufacturing and production in Chongqing.
5. Beiweiyidu (Chongqing) Technology: a start-up focusing on the research and development, and production of health products and supplements in Chongqing. Founded by NUS alumnus Dr Yang Xi, the start-up plans to explore local market resources and integrate agricultural materials from rural areas of Chongqing, such as peanut shells, straw, mulberry and oregano, and work towards the production of supplements to decrease blood sugar through different food processing methods.
6. Chongqing Shanghezhushu Technology Partnership: a start-up providing solutions in the areas of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and dedicated to using AI to identify potential risks in operations and management. Leveraging its core technology on the Digital twin and D+ platform (an industrial AI solution platform), Shanghezhushu helps companies in traditional industries to monitor, diagnose and analyse their current operating system as well as predict potential risks or problems.
Sam Tay, founder of Chongqing Yuechenshuzhi Technology, who has set foot in Chongqing from Singapore, shared he is confident that his start-up will be able to penetrate the market with lesser obstacles as Chongqing is a strategic city with a direct Government-to-Government partnership with Singapore.
“The facility is currently led by an experienced and dedicated team who knows what a company needs to break new ground into new market and is able to provide ample assistance that we require locally. We are grateful for BLOCK71 Chongqing’s support to expand our operations to a new country,” he said.
Additionally, BLOCK71 Chongqing supports start-ups through initiatives like the IMDA-NUS Enterprise-BLOCK71 Chongqing Immersion Programme. An intense, customised week-long programme held in August 2021, it helped accelerate Singapore companies’ entry into the Chongqing market. Despite travel restrictions, nine participating start-ups were presented with opportunities to exhibit virtually at the annual Smart China Expo 2021, a national tech fair supported by both the Chinese government and the Singapore Ministry of Trade and Industry. It has connected start-ups with industry-leading players, corporations and relevant government agencies in Chongqing to help them get a headstart in the city.
Various immersion and networking opportunities were facilitated as part of the programme. These included meetings with the local government leaders for an overview of the economy, industry and significant government initiatives; as well as online demos and tours to local industrial parks to understand market trends and relevant local dynamics, such as business environment and market demands. There were also one-to-one business matching sessions to meet with potential in-market partners to seek customers and collaboration.
Entrepreneurs who are keen to kickstart their journey can look forward to similar initiatives in the year ahead. More information is available on www.block71.co.
By NUS Enterprise