Singapore: Student-run VC fund Protege makes debut investment in Nurture.AI

Lujie Chen, Head of Protege Ventures

Protege Ventures, Southeast Asia’s first student venture fund, has announced its first investment in Nurture.AI, a Singapore-based platform for the global Artificial Intelligence (AI) community.

As part of the funding, the startup received S$25,000 from Protege Ventures in the form of convertible notes, sponsored by Wavemaker Partners and Jeff Chi from Vickers Venture Partners, Protege said in a statement on Thursday.

Co-founded in August 2017 by Jia Qing Yap and Kim Meng Tan, Nurture.AI is a platform dedicated to helping the AI community worldwide to discover, evaluate and implement the latest research more efficiently. Yap has put his university studies on hold to concentrate on building the business.

In a statement, Nurture.AI pointed out that a major problem faced by the AI community is that around half of the AI research papers today do not come with available code implementations. The startup works to encourage reproducibility of the papers’ results and facilitate peer-to-peer accountability in flagging out and discussing such issues.

Sharing his experience of working with VCs who are student peers, Yap said, “As a founder, I can attest to how professional and helpful the Protege Ventures Student VCs are. Many of them also have entrepreneurship experience.”

Last December, Nurture.AI organised the Global Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS) Paper Implementation Challenge which attracted more than 1,000 participants globally and resulted in 46 successful open-source code implementations of research papers from the world’s most prestigious AI conference.

Established by Kairos ASEAN and the Institute of Innovation & Entrepreneurship (IIE) at Singapore Management University (SMU), Protégé Ventures aims to provide undergraduate and postgraduate students from Singapore-based universities with the opportunities to embrace practical, real-life venture capital experience in sourcing, analysing and investing in technology-enabled ASEAN startups which must have at least one student or recent graduate as its founder.

“We believe that students can sometimes identify market opportunities that others miss and we want to encourage and foster entrepreneurship. Protege Ventures shows us the potential these student founders have, and we are happy and excited to support and nurture them,” said Wavemaker Partners managing partner Paul Santos.

The first cohort of 17 student VCs was selected from seven universities.

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.