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NUS LaunchPad for budding entrepreneurs

27 April 2012

The DOT Medical team members plan to commercialise their mammography device in India

Lively exchange between NUS budding entrepreneurs and investors

The first NUS Take-Off with LaunchPad event on 26 April saw eight start-ups comprising 45 NUS engineering and business students pitching their innovative projects to potential investors. The budding entrepreneurs represent the inaugural batch of the new LaunchPad programme which aims to teach students to search for maximum value creation as start-ups do in the real world.

Spearheaded by the Institute for Engineering Leadership (IEL), an institute set up as part of the NUS Faculty of Engineering, LaunchPad is mentored by head of IEL's Enterprise Development Lab Prof Luda Kopeikina, together with NUS advisors, industry experts and venture capitalists.

Prof Kopeikina, a US high-tech entrepreneur and angel investor, said: "Universities around the world encounter challenges in converting their research into marketable products with high potential. We call it an 'innovation gap'. The key to bridging this gap is finding first customers." She stressed that the course focuses on critical entrepreneurial skills such as customer development and validation, and teams are challenged to bring letters of intent from customers at the end of the programme.

The Take-Off with LaunchPad event was jointly organised by IEL together and Business Angel Network of Southeast Asia (BANSEA), with support from the Singapore Venture Capital and Private Equity Association as well as The Indus Entrepreneurs Singapore.

NUS MBA student Sarath Sasikumar said that start-up DOT Medical's DOT Scan is a non-ionising optical imaging solution that provides safer and more accurate breast cancer diagnosis. Invented by Assoc Prof Chen Nanguang of the NUS Department of Bioengineering, a prototype is currently being used in clinical trials at the National Cancer Centre. The team - comprising Sarath, postgraduates Mahesh Suravajjala, Ali Hasnain, Kalpesh Mehta and Abhilash Nair - plan to commercialise the mammography device in India.

Mr Theodore Tan, Director of The Biofactory Pte Ltd - a biomedical incubator that catalyses the commercialisation of innovative technologies - was among the 30 investors and representatives from funding agencies exploring early-stage funding opportunities. "Budding entrepreneurs need to be aware of the biomedical sector and what is needed in the medical scene," said Mr Tan, who is also an Executive Member of BANSEA. He advised the start-ups which pitched their ideas to improve their knowledge of the regulatory framework and foray into the market.

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