Collaborating for Success: SMU and TLA Partnership Offers Entrepreneurship Students Real-World Experience

By the SMU Digital Marketing Team 

Deep domain knowledge is undoubtedly crucial for imparting solid foundational skills and knowledge, but is by no means the only component to nurturing future-ready graduates. A wealth of real-world experience is also of paramount importance in preparing students for success, especially in the dynamic and multi-faceted field of entrepreneurship and innovation.

To cultivate in students an even more robust learning experience, SMU’s newly revamped Master of Science in Entrepreneurship and Innovation (MEI) programme integrates coursework with an experiential component – Venture Building Experience (VBE). These parallel tracks will run simultaneously, allowing students to immediately put to practice what they have learnt in the classroom as they pursue a venture idea of their own creation, or engage as a consultant to help build and grow an existing start-up.

For students who choose to consult for an existing start-up, SMU has introduced collaborations with the bio-agri-tech incubator Temasek Lifesciences Accelerator (TLA).

Through venture building with TLA projects, students will have the opportunity to develop innovative solutions, and gain invaluable hands-on experience in a safe environment. This venture-building track of the programme aims to see students walk away with a more nuanced understanding of the intricacies of entrepreneurial enterprise.



Helping meaningful life science ventures take flight

As one of Singapore’s first bio-agri-tech incubators, TLA aims to incubate, nurture and grow life sciences innovations into early-stage companies that create a positive impact on the economy, environment, and society.

“Life science innovations have tremendous potential to address global challenges in food security, sustainability and well-being,” explains ShuQi Liu, Project Management and Communications Manager at TLA.

“The problem lies in the support needed to get them off the ground, tackling vast issues related to climate change, food and nutrition. These emerging trends in biotech and agriscience need a unique resource allocation approach to bring about positive impact on our economy, environment and community.”


Creating a path to sustainable entrepreneurship

According to Ms Liu, TLA has a proven track record in pioneering high-impact for-profit ventures in the areas of agri-food technology, industrial and synthetic biology, as well as human and veterinary sciences. Through their expertise, industry insights, and strategic guidance, TLA has catalysed the development of innovative startups that address global challenges, improve lives, and create sustainable value in these crucial domains.



“We believe that this collaboration can catalyse sustainable entrepreneurship in Asia, and create that spark that’s missing between academic research and commercialisation in the life sciences industry,” she says, touching on the benefits that MEI students have in collaborating with TLA for their VBE.

As long as students have a progressive mindset that is committed to delivering tangible solutions, TLA’s projects offer the unique opportunity to design well-executed business strategies that will contribute to meaningful change within Singapore, and beyond.



Having said that, students are not expected to have any life sciences expertise. Rather, MEI participants will be exposed to TLA’s preeminent life sciences network led by a panel of experts. These experts will provide a credible platform where discussions can take place, and aid in MEI participants’ understanding of the technical aspects of the venture that they are building.

Explaining the opportunities TLA hopes to provide, Ms Liu says, “This will be a rare opportunity for MEI participants to work with a diverse group of professionals with different perspectives and allow them to be exposed to novel ideas from deep technology domains. We hope to bring the best of business and life sciences talents together, to exploit early-stage potential and nurture an ecosystem of life sciences innovation.”



Looking to acquire entrepreneurial and innovation skills for tomorrow’s workplace? Apply now to the SMU Master of Science in Entrepreneurship and Innovation (MEI) programme