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The world is an entrepreneur’s oyster

09 November 2012

(From left) Mr Singer; Dr Chan; Mr Michael Yap, Deputy CEO of the Media Development Authority of Singapore; and Mr Edgar Hardless, CEO of Singtel Innov8 launching the Block Party

Mr Singer, co-author of best-selling book Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle

One of the exciting things about start-ups and start-up communities is their similarities in terms of vibe and energy. In Singapore, it is thrilling to see the start-up eco-system forming with its own subculture of trying things and having a big entrepreneurship support group.

Mr Saul Singer, co-author of the book titled Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle, highlighted these points at the NUS Enterprise Global Entrepreneurial Leadership (GEL) Speaker Series on 6 November. The talk was held as part of a Block Party to celebrate innovation and entrepreneurship by NUS Enterprise.

Speaking to a crowd of some 400, Mr Singer shared that Israel has the highest number of start-ups outside of Silicon Valley. For a country to be a “start-up nation”, it has to exhibit the characteristics of being driven and a willingness to take risks.

However, “we should stop thinking of ourselves as being Silicon Valley”, said Mr Singer. He noted that entrepreneurship is about seeing a problem and turning it into an opportunity. As there are places around the world with bigger issues, entrepreneurs should venture into such areas with potential.

He drew similarities between Singapore and Israel, noting that both countries are small nations with limited resources. He lauded Singapore’s rapid development and said that the country is innovative, being “driven to create industry after industry”.

Mr Singer was also impressed by Plug-In@Blk71, an extension of NUS Enterprise’s incubation programme beyond the University campus. He singled out tenant Zimplistic Inventions Pte Ltd, a start-up that invented “Rotimatic”. The automated roti (South Asian bread) maker was developed by NUS Engineering graduate Ms Pranoti Nagarkar.

At the Block Party, Dr Lily Chan, Chief Executive Office of NUS Enterprise, said that she hopes Plug-In@Blk71 will be the “start-up scene in Singapore”. “We will continue to develop new initiatives and activities in order to be able to groom our start-ups into the next game-changing company and translate our University technologies into world-class products and services,” she noted.  

Besides the Speaker Series, Mr Singer also met with alumni from the NUS Overseas Colleges programme and NUS Enterprise incubatee companies. He also spoke on the topic of the future for the Start-Up Nation at the NUS Business School.