Entrepreneurship at NUS
Last month, the Straits Times conducted a survey of about 500 people on the values that mattered most to them. Honesty, kindness and gratitude came up tops. Curiousity was ranked last; creativity and courage were not too far from the bottom. Perhaps the sample size is too small for us to have any conclusive sense. But a few were quick to jump in to say that this is why we do not have great inventions and Nobel laureates.
Do Singaporeans have what it takes to stay relevant, ahead and prosperous in the next 50 years? Singapore has done well in the past 47 years. We have first world infrastructure (some may not agree, with the recent MRT breakdowns), the rule of law, reliable regulatory frameworks, and a hardworking and resilient labour force. But, in this innovation-driven era, ideas, creativity and enterprise – these are what will shape and define our future. You may like to read this great article by Farhad Manjoo on the competition in the IT industry.
Last Friday, I was invited to be a judge for the inaugural NUSSU Test-Bed Programme, a joint initiative by NUSSU and NUS Enterprise. Our students and alumni submitted a total of 63 business proposals, of which 10 were shortlisted to pitch their business ideas to a panel of judges. The panel would select a few of the winning ideas which will be test-bedded in NUS. NUS, with its 45,000 staff and students, provides a ready ‘customer’ base to seed and spawn these ideas.
Entrepreneurship can be a daunting endeavour. It begins with curiosity, ideas and dreams, of a product, technology or service that could bring value to society. However, it does not stop there. The next step entails venturing into the unknown – attempting to translate this idea into fruition. Much work goes into sourcing for support and resources to develop and fine-tune the product or service. And finally, the greatest challenge beholds, to capture and harness the value created in the marketplace.
While we know that it is important to nurture entrepreneurial skills and mindsets, some would say that the Asian upbringing is not particularly conducive for this purpose. In our growing years, many of us try not to question or challenge our parents, elders or teachers too much, as we do not want to be misconstrued as being disrespectful. Many parents prefer their children to pursue tried and tested professional careers, rather than to venture into start-ups.
I am thus very heartened by Friday’s event. The ideas of the 10 shortlisted teams are testament that there are budding seeds of adventure and enterprise within our community. I applaud and commend each team for their efforts. In formulating the business proposals, these students have had to “think outside of the box”, and though the course, they would have developed a sense of opportunism and savvy. It is an experience that textbooks cannot impart, yet the wisdom and acumen gained will come in useful in their future endeavours.
Eventually, the panel of judges selected 4 proposals for test-bedding at NUS: SnapSell, Intraix, YourKaki and Munshi Labs. SnapSell is an app that will make selling and buying of second-hand items such a breeze and a delight. Intraix is an energy management system which incorporates an interesting gaming/challenge component. YourKaki is a refreshing one-stop community and directory for sport enthusiasts. And finally, Munshi Labs will facilitate researchers, consultancy firms and the like, with an easy database of respondents for research and surveys. There was a proposal (i.e., Clault which ensures security in cloud-based storage and applications) for which the judges thought was highly marketable, but unsuitable for test-bedding in NUS. Congratulations to all the teams for your fine participation.
I also wanted to also convey the message to our students that if you think you have an enterprising knack, or if you are curious about creativity and innovation, there are developmental avenues and opportunities in NUS you can explore. The NUS Entrepreneurship Centre has been actively supporting and encouraging entrepreneurship endeavours within the university community. The Centre provides physical incubation space to NUS startup companies, and mentoring, financial and marketing support, as well as business network access that is vital for small businesses to thrive and take off.
Or perhaps, you will relish a work-study stint in an entrepreneurial hub. Take a look at the NUS Overseas College Programme (NOC). NOC is a distinct flagship educational programme which gives students the opportunity to be immersed in leading entrepreneurial hubs, such as Silicon Valley, Philadelphia, Stockholm, China, India and Israel. NOC students spend a year in these hubs, working as full-time interns in high-tech start-ups or innovative companies; they learn directly from founders and entrepreneurs, and witness firsthand, the business and operating environment. At the same time, NOC students will read entrepreneurship-related or discipline-based courses at established NUS partner universities at these overseas locations.
Finally, may I share a quote from Samuel Ullman, an American poet. He once aptly described youth as a state of mind – it is a temper of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigour of the emotions, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over love of ease. This sums up the spirit of entrepreneurship that we hope will flourish in our community. Stay youthful, always!
|Print article||This entry was posted by Provost's Office on April 20, 2012 at 9:58 am, and is filed under Education, Uncategorized. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.|
No trackbacks yet.
about 3 days ago - No comments
The University is no longer a place just for purely academic pursuits – it must also equip its students with the necessary competencies (such as intellectual liveliness, inquisitiveness, inner resilience, etc.) to ensure that they are well prepared for the global community and workplace. This is the opportune time for me to welcome the ‘newest More >
about 1 month ago - 11 comments
Two years ago, I shared about the importance of career preparation workshops, and making them as accessible and convenient for students to attend them. I thought it would be good for me to give an update on how these workshops have been progressing. The NUS Career Centre (NCC) introduced the HeadStart Module in AY2012/13. More >
about 4 months ago - 38 comments
Thank you for your hearty responses to my earlier blog post on the proposed grade-free system for first year undergraduates. I have read through and given thought to each of them. Concurrently, we have had many constructive discussions with Deans, Vice Deans, Department Heads, faculty members, the Board of Undergraduate Studies, the University Committee More >
about 11 months ago - 6 comments
In my previous post, I shared about how student feedback on modules are important in shaping the way we teach and learn at NUS. Some time ago, the NUS Teaching Academy initiated a few projects to review existing processes pertaining to teaching and learning in the university. A sub-committee was convened to reflect on More >
about 1 year ago - 6 comments
Your Feedback Matters NUS gathers feedback from our 37,000-strong student population via the Online Student Feedback Exercise, which is carried out at the end of every semester. Why do we go through the Student Feedback Exercise, time and again, semester after semester? Simply put, we want to improve on the teaching and educational experience delivered. More >
about 1 year ago - 11 comments
The phenomenon of massive open online courses (MOOCs) has taken off rapidly. Many leading universities are exploring and leveraging on MOOC platforms. Coursera, an educational technology company based at Stanford University, is one of the major providers of free online learning. Formed in January 2012, Coursera has more than 3 million registered students, and has More >
about 1 year ago - 4 comments
King’s College London is one of the leading universities in the UK. In early April 2013, I was at King’s College London to sign an agreement on two concurrent degrees. With this new agreement, each year, six students will have the opportunity to participate in one of two concurrent degree programmes. The first is a More >
about 2 years ago - 38 comments
In 2008, Professor Andrew Ng of Stanford University started the Stanford Engineering Everywhere programme to distribute free online education. Last year, he taught a Machine Learning class with an enrolment of more than 100,000 students from all over the world. Subsequently, Coursera was born with the intention of bringing materials designed and taught by world-class More >
about 2 years ago - 82 comments
In an earlier blog post, I had mentioned that NUS has been progressively moving towards decreasing the weightage of final exams. I thought it might be interesting to share this table which shows the distribution of CA-weightage across modules offered in AY2010/11. One-third of the modules have 100% CA, and more than half our More >
about 2 years ago - 60 comments
The days following the release of the GCE ‘A’ Level Results mark the traditional peak season for university applications. I thought it is timely for me to convey some key attributes of the NUS’s policies on admission, and on the related issues of tuition fees and financial aid. Admissions Admission to the NUS More >