Newshub - NUS' News Portal
26 April 2012
Eight innovative start-ups - providing solutions from painless mammography to environmental products and next generation surgical microscopes - were presented to investors at the inaugural TAKE OFF! with LaunchPad event organised by the Institute for Engineering Leadership (IEL) at NUS
Eight start-ups involving 45 engineering and business students from the National University of Singapore (NUS) were given a chance to pitch their start-ups and seek funding from a panel of potential investors, as part of a course project. Mentored by Professor Luda Kopeikina, a U.S. high-tech entrepreneur and angel investor, as well as a visiting professor at NUS, together with industry experts and venture capitalists, these students are the inaugural batch of students from the new LaunchPad programme spearheaded by the Institute for Engineering Leadership (IEL), an institute established as part of the NUS Faculty of Engineering.
Comprising a public exhibition and a closed-door pitch session, the TAKEOFF! with LaunchPad event was organised jointly by NUS IEL with the Business Angel Network of Southeast Asia (BANSEA), and supported by the Singapore Venture Capital & Private Equity Association (SVCA) and The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) Singapore. Over 30 investors and representatives of funding agencies attended the closed door pitch session, keen to explore early-stage funding opportunities. Please refer to Annex A for more information about BANSEA.
Professor Luda Kopeikina, who heads the Enterprise Development Lab at IEL, 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. This course is focused on exactly that - customer development and validation. It is a critical skill for any entrepreneur. No customers... no company. Teams are challenged to bring letters of intent from customers at the end of the course. Our teams have risen to the challenge!"
LaunchPad - Where Technologies Create Impact
LaunchPad is a new and unique action learning programme which accelerates the formation of technology start-ups by bringing together cross-disciplinary teams of students from various faculties including Engineering and Business. Open to all NUS students, up to 40 students are selected per semester.
The objective of this one-semester programme is for students to learn how to search for the maximum value creation in an iterative manner as start-ups do in the real world. Each team works with a selected technology developed at NUS that has a potential to generate a large market impact. The distinguishing feature of LaunchPad is that these start-up teams spent 80 per cent of the time talking to customers to validate the value of their technologies and revenue-making potential.
Professor Luda Kopeikina, a U.S. high-tech entrepreneur and angel investor, leads the programme together with NUS advisors, industry experts and venture capitalists who were engaged to supervise each team.
Students are assessed based on their creativity, team work, progress made in developing their company, peer reviews and overall participation. Three months of hard work by the students culminated in the TAKEOFF! with LaunchPad event, where they presented their solutions and pitched their start-ups to seek for funding from potential investors.
Mr Sarath Sasikumar, an MBA student with the NUS Business School who is also a budding entrepreneur with one of the eight start-ups - DOT Medical, said: "Through the LaunchPad programme, I was able to practice ideas I had accumulated in the business school and learn what entrepreneurship is all about. I have learnt that assumptions we make about how a technology can be used are often wrong and customers see value differently. As a result, at the TAKEOFF event, our start-up team presented to investors the tremendous potential of our product based on the market feedback, not hypotheses. In my opinion, the LaunchPad programme is a must for any aspiring entrepreneur!"
Please refer to the Annex B for a list of the start-ups which had participated in the TAKEOFF! with LaunchPad event.
For more information on LaunchPad, please visit: http://www.eng.nus.edu.sg/IEL/EnterpriseDevelopmentLab.html