NUS Enterprise, the entrepreneurial arm of the National University of Singapore (NUS), has on Monday launched SGD 20 million ($7.48 million) fund to grow Singapore’s deep tech innovation and venture ecosystem.

NUS Enterprise said in a statement that it has launched the SGD 10 million ($7.48 million) Innovation Fellowship and Venture Creation Awards on at the NUS Deep Tech Venture Showcase.

According to the statement, the awards will boost the translation of cutting-edge research and innovation achieved by NUS faculty and researchers into impactful solutions.

The university is also committing SGD 10 million ($7.48 million) to provide more pre-seed funding to successful teams under the NUS Graduate Research Innovation Program (GRIP) through the enhanced GRIP 2.0.

“Research, Innovation, and Enterprise is an integral part of our mission to foster a dynamic, lifelong learning environment within NUS,” said Professor Chen Tsuhan, Deputy President (Innovation and Enterprise), 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,” he added.

According to the statement, the newly launched Innovation Fellowship and Venture Creation Awards is designed to spur NUS faculty and researchers – many of whom have a strong track record in deep tech – to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset as they pursue their research.

The awards recognize and incentivize these innovators who are at varying stages of their academic careers, with the aim of motivating them to commercialize their research into tangible solutions.

Awardees will receive a two-year grant and guidance from NUS Enterprise to support them in their research commercialization 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.

It is noted that there are three categories for the Innovation Fellowship and Venture Creation Awards – Innovation Fellow, Provost’s Innovation Chair Professor, and President’s Venture Creation Chair Professor.

Launched in 2018, the year-long flagship venture creation GRIP guides NUS post-graduate students, researchers, and alumni to grow into deep tech entrepreneurs, nurturing early-stage ventures from research commercialisation.

Since its inception, GRIP has nurtured and provided funding support to more than 430 aspiring founders who formed close to 160 teams.

These aspiring founders and teams have since raised over SGD 55 million ($41.11 million) in external investments.

To further accelerate the translation of innovations into impactful real-world solutions, the program has evolved to GRIP 2.0.

Successful GRIP teams will receive up to SGD 250,000 ($186,878) in pre-seed funding, which is 2.5 times more than the funding for earlier teams.

It is noted that NUS has set aside SGD 10 million ($7.48 million) for this initiative.

Beyond initial seed capital, NUS Enterprise has also established strategic collaborations with three prominent venture capital firms to-date: Legend Capital, SOSV Investments LLC and Vertex Holdings, which collectively manage more than $10 billion in assets.

NUS Enterprise is exploring more of such collaborations to provide coaching for GRIP start-ups and support them in increasing their investment readiness, specialized market access and deep industry expertise.

The venture capital firms will provide practical and network expertise through direct engagement with individual start-ups facilitated by the GRIP program.

This provides GRIP start-ups with access to an extensive network of resources – including tailored guidance – to help them advance to the next phase of development.

“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,” said Associate Professor Benjamin Tee, Associate Vice President, NUS Enterprise.

“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 the access to a supportive ecosystem for the greatest chance at success,” he added.

Frank Hong, Managing Director of Legend Capital, said that NUS has been leading in investing talent development and advanced research in innovative areas including biotechnology and healthcare.

“Through Legend Capital’s in-depth understanding and extensive network in the deep tech and healthcare industry over the decades, we are excited to collaborate with NUS Enterprise by bridging the sources of innovation in the portfolio of Legend Capital to Singapore for synergy and positive effect,” he added.

Cyril Ebersweiler, General Partner at SOSV Investments LLC and Founder of HAX, said that in bridging the realms of academia and industry, their strategic partnership is fueled by a shared commitment to nurturing the next generation of entrepreneurs in deep tech.

“Our combined expertise will help GRIP start-ups iterate rapidly and scale effectively,” he added.

Chow Shang Wei, Managing Director of Vertex Holdings, said that their partnership with NUS Enterprise on its GRIP 2.0 program signifies their commitment in contributing to Singapore’s tech ecosystem.

“We are witnessing promising technologies emerging from the program,

“Correspondingly, we aspire to support these start-ups in navigating the complexities of entrepreneurship to unlock their full potential and chart a path to success,” he added.

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