IIE celebrates five years of nurturing innovators and entrepreneurs
Business leaders, mentors, investors, founders of SMU incubated companies past and present came together on 4 September 2014 evening to celebrate SMU Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s (IIE) five years of achievements.
Amid the warm camaraderie, good food and sparkling wine, participants swopped war stories, celebrated success, identified challenges, exchanged ideas, and expressed their appreciation and aspirations.
IIE was launched in 2009 to foster a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in SMU, and contribute to the entrepreneurial scene in Singapore.
In his opening remarks, Mr Patrick Lim, Deputy Director, Infrastructure and Partner Management (Innovation & Start-ups Group) at SPRING Singapore said, “In just five years, IIE has made a significant difference to aspiring entrepreneurs and budding start-ups by providing the necessary infrastructure and support that encourages and nurtures entrepreneurship.
“Through the efforts of IIE, we are now seeing more SMU students develop a stronger interest in entrepreneurship and trying their hand at starting new ventures. They can do so with confidence with the strong support from IIE, receiving easy access to critical resources like mentorship, funding; customers, and overseas market opportunities.
“The accomplishments and efforts of IIE cannot be underestimated. I would like to congratulate SMU’s efforts in innovation and entrepreneurship. They strongly complement SPRING’s efforts in enhancing the local entrepreneurship landscape. SMU IIE is a key valued partner in nurturing and growing innovative start-ups and I look forward to working more closely with them in the years ahead.”
SMU President Professor Arnoud De Meyer delivered the keynote address. He shared IIE has to-date created 110 innovative companies and helped them raise $4.8 million in government grants and around $10 million in investments. IIE was instrumental in driving SMU’s Area of Excellence in Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
President De Meyer went on to recount the various achievements of IIE which are to interest, educate, train, guide and help budding innovators and entrepreneurs. These include organising the IIE Distinguished Speaker Series, monthly Entrepreneurs Corner, conferences and workshops; incubating new companies and providing training to the start-ups and SMEs; holding competitions such as the biennial Lee Kuan Yew Global Business Plan Competition; building ties with the industries through the establishment of the Innovation Club; producing several original and proprietary innovation methodologies for incremental, disruptive and service innovations; designed five courses for the Technopreneurship track at SMU School of Information Systems; invited by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development to share its innovative entrepreneurial education programme with the representatives of over 60 countries in Geneva.
“Having made quite an impression in SMU, Singapore and even the international arena over the last five years, IIE is not about to rest on its laurels. Over the next few years, it plans to expand the i-Club, engage the SMEs more intensely with the help of the Singapore Manufacturing Federation, and increase the quality and quantity of start-ups from SMU,” added President De Meyer.
One of the highlights of the evening was the presentation of the Gary Kunis Scholarship in Entrepreneurship and Technopreneurship to Gerald Ong Lin Teck from the School of Economics, and to Jackson Kwa Jian Hui from the School of Information Systems.
Gerald Ong has launched a peer-to-peer ride sharing and matching service at SMU called CARGO. “This scholarship is a great help to me. The money will be channeled into CARGO in the form of development and marketing. This scholarship allows me to pursue my dreams as well as do something beneficial to the SMU population.”
Jackson Kwa runs TechSociety Private Limited which is incubated at IIE. It was recently awarded a $50,000 grant by the Action Community for Entrepreneurship. Jackson has co-developed an app called Taxi Kaki with the National Taxi Association, a geolocation crowdsourcing app that allows users to share real-time social traffic data through TechSociety’s interactive geosocial networking technology and special push notification capabilities. “This scholarship is an encouragement for me to continue to excel in my studies and being an entrepreneur. I would like to encourage SMU students to consider becoming entrepreneurs, because based on my personal experience so far, the journey has been really worthwhile!”
Another highlight was the sharing of their entrepreneurship journey by six companies which have graduated from IIE’s incubator. They include Rainmaker Labs, Red Dot Payments, Bandwagon, Pytheas, Gametize, and Tyler Projects.
Professor Desai Arcot Narasimhalu, Director of IIE, said “IIE is, in several ways, also a start-up. When we began five years ago, we had to employ our entrepreneurial skills to enable this baby to grow healthily. We learned, adapted, and tested out new ideas. There were bumps along the way, we had our share of hits and misses, but lessons were learned, triumphs celebrated, and new grounds broken. What IIE has achieved so far is the result of the hard work and dedication of my team. We will continue to scale new heights and set new milestones, so that SMU and the Innovation & Entrepreneurship community will have more to celebrate come the 10th anniversary.”