NTU and SPRING Singapore to announce winner of inaugural ideas.inc. Business Challenge
After 12 months of intense competition, the winning team of the first ideas.inc. Business Challenge will be announced today at the grand finals at the Suntec City Convention Centre. The winner will receive the top prize of $15,000 cash from Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports, who is the Guest-of-Honour for the event.
Launched in August last year, the competition is a new initiative by Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and SPRING Singapore to nurture young creative and entrepreneurial leaders and create a platform for their ideas to flourish into viable businesses. In all, the competition attracted 200 teams.
Unlike conventional business plan competitions which usually end with teams pitching their product idea and business models, the ideas.inc Business Challenge takes the process further by providing funding support and expert mentorship for the aspiring entrepreneurs to develop and commercialise their innovative business ideas.
Associate Professor Hooi Den Huan, Director, NTU’s Nanyang Technopreneurship Center, which spearheaded the competition said, “Entrepreneurship is one of the most important resources that we have to build up Singapore’s global competitiveness in the 21st century and at NTU, we believe in giving our students a head start with an environment that nurtures innovation and creativity. Through initiatives like the ideas.inc. Business Challenge, we hope to drive and empower entrepreneurship not only among NTU students but also all young people in Singapore. By investing in our talented youths with early-stage capital and professional advice, we can help to nurture the potential of their new ventures.”
Added Ms Chew Mok Lee, Group Director, Entrepreneurship & Innovation, SPRING Singapore, “A key focus of SPRING’s entrepreneurship development strategy is to cultivate a spirit of enterprise among our youths and raise our next generation of entrepreneurs. Hence, we have programmes to encourage youths to turn their innovative ideas into businesses. ideas.inc. is one such developmental platform where they can get funding support and mentoring from entrepreneurs to try out their ideas. Through this experience, we hope that these enterprising youths will one day start a viable business and eventually take it beyond Singapore”.
Fifteen teams that made it to the semi-finals were each awarded up to $15,000 to build their prototypes and explore the commercial feasibility of their ideas. They also benefited from mentorship by a select group of Singapore-based entrepreneurs, NTU professors and alumni, as well as industry partners. The six finalist teams received additional funding of up to $50,000 under SPRING’s Young Entrepreneurs Scheme for Startups (YES! Startups).
The quality of the submissions, which cover a broad array of business ideas ranging from lifestyle and technical products to services and social enterprises, attracted interest from private investors. Invention Capital LLP, a local boutique fund that invests in technology companies and focuses on creating and commercialising patentable inventions, is offering a Top Incubation Award of $100,000 per team, to three selected proposals.
Mr Vishnu Mahesh, 22, from Care Inc., one of the finalists of the competition and a final-year student in the Masters programme in Technopreneurship at NTU, said, “The ideas.inc. experience has been truly life-changing. After hearing about the competition, we started brainstorming on the proposal for our Care mobile clinical assistant - a handheld device that allows clinicians to access and document patient care records in real time, thus helping to improve patient safety and hospital productivity.”
His team came up with the idea after speaking to a doctor in India who related the healthcare errors he had witnessed. Mr Vishnu also experienced this problem first hand when his grandmother was admitted into intensive care from the general ward, after receiving the wrong dosage of a drug. This motivated him to look for a solution.
Another finalist team, Soyato, developed a frozen dessert made from soy milk. One of the team members, Ms Verleen Goh, who is taking a degree in Applied Science in Food Science and Technology attended a professional ice cream technical workshop and did an internship with an ice cream guru, to better understand how to create the product.
Mr Alan Phua, 26, another team member of Soyato said, “The best part of this challenge has been the networking opportunities. The ideas.inc. platform gave us the right contacts and linkages to grow our business faster and smarter.” One of these contacts was their mentor, Mr Douglas Foo, Chairman & CEO of Sakae Holdings Ltd. He provided Soyato with industry insights, which has helped to shape their concept.
Riding on the success of the inaugural competition, registration for the next ideas.inc. Business Challenge has already commenced. Youths between the ages of 18 and 26 can submit their new business ideas and particulars at: www.ntu.edu.sg/ideasinc.
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