National University of Singapore commits $18m to launch 250 deep-tech startups

Pedestrians walk past an office tower in the central business district in Singapore, on Friday, April 27, 2018. Photographer: Paul Miller/Bloomberg

The National University of Singapore (NUS) is committing $18.18 million (S$25 million) over five years to launch 250 deep-tech startups.

The funds will be channelled via an initiative called the NUS Graduate Research Innovation Programme (GRIP) which taps on the university’s graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and research staff to build these startups.

NUS GRIP intends to award up to 50 projects every year. Successful candidates will go through an intensive three-month venture creation programme, involving company veterans and mentors to help the teams identify first markets and build prototypes. Successful teams will be eligible for two $50,000  tranches of investment that will be awarded on merit.

The inaugural batch of 25 NUS GRIP students will be selected by October 2018.

NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye said, “Mentorship and funding are crucial for early-stage start-ups. NUS GRIP aims to guide and support our talented graduate students and researchers as they kick-start their ventures. We hope to create a strong pipeline of research-based technology companies that will introduce innovative applications and technologies to Singapore and the global markets. Each of these tech-based start-ups would create innovation-based jobs, benefitting the Singapore economy in the long run.”

The Singapore government has been driving a strong emphasis on developing talent in artificial intelligence (AI) and deep tech, as part of its Smart Nation initiative.

Last week, AI Singapore launched AI for Industry (AI4I) and AI for Everyone (AI4E), two initiatives aimed at training 12,000 Singaporeans in AI skills over the next three years. The subsidised training courses include content sponsored by Microsoft, Intel and Datacamp.

Last November, AI Singapore also unveiled a three nine-month apprenticeship initiative called AI Apprenticeship Programme (AIAP) aimed at training up to 200 AI professionals by 2020.