By the SMU Digital Marketing Team
Gone are the days when the only educational pathways for aspiring startup mavericks were theoretical lectures and case studies. While traditional methods of imparting entrepreneurial knowledge provide valuable insights, they often fail to capture the essence of real-world challenges and the practical skills required to navigate them.
To take the concept of entrepreneurship beyond theory, the Singapore Management University (SMU) has embraced a new approach: hands-on learning. This innovative method empowers individuals to apply their knowledge, take risks, and learn from their mistakes in a controlled yet authentic environment.
“Entrepreneurship is not just about starting a company,” says Professor David Gomulya, Academic Director of SMU’s newly revamped Master of Science in Entrepreneurship and Innovation (MEI).
“Entrepreneurship is not just about starting a company,”
“In fact, entrepreneurship and innovation can be considered two sides of the same coin, both of which are equally important. Entrepreneurship is needed to identify a problem for which you need an innovation or a solution.”
Increasingly, there are many budding ideas and technologies which, for a lack of solid leadership and business planning, fail to be commercialised. Revamped from the programme’s previous iteration, the Master of Science in Innovation, changes were made to the course structure to tackle the increasing importance of entrepreneurship.
In the upgraded course structure, there is now a greater emphasis of knowledge transfer into action. Within the programme structure exists two parallel tracks – the coursework and theory that are taught in the classroom, and the hands-on Venture Building Experience (VBE). And to give MEI students a wide range of opportunities to chart their learning journey, SMU has introduced two different partnerships that will offer ventures that students can consult for as part of VBE.
Filling a gap in entrepreneurial talent
One such partnership is with venture creation firm Origgin. Founded in 2017, Origgin has been working with universities and research institutes to turn various new technologies and patents into successful ventures. With an expertise spanning diverse tech domains like agri-food, advanced engineering, healthcare, sustainability, information and communication technologies, Origgin is able to provide valuable guidance to these ventures.
For each new technology and business idea, Origgin puts in the pre-seed investment and assembles an interim team of the firm’s venture creators, who are heavily involved in building these ideas from the ground up. The process is an intense one, with effective business leadership playing a crucial role in successfully developing and commercialising these technologies into viable businesses.
Through this collaboration with SMU’s MEI programme, Origgin hopes to provide aspiring entrepreneurs with learning opportunities, thus growing the talent pool. By consulting for these ventures in groups, students are empowered to gain first-hand experience that will fuel their growth.
“We feel that MEI is a good platform to bring in entrepreneurial talent that can lead a company. This collaboration is a win for both SMU and Origgin, because we can provide students with good tech startup opportunities, while the firm has a broader talent pool to dip into since Origgin is expanding into the region like Thailand, Malaysia and Japan to commercialise more technologies,” explains Lum Yi Chyi, one of Origgin’s venture creators.
“Students can study the different theories and concepts at SMU, but will likely find that the actual application is difficult. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for every venture, and we want to give MEI participants this real-life experience.”
Students who may be lacking in technical expertise for the domain of their chosen project will work closely with the technology inventors, who are the professors and researchers, with support from Origgin’s team.
Creating unique entrepreneurial experiences
Before being accepted for development, the Origgin team assesses tech ideas on their viability for business, technical innovation and research team — whether a patent, for example, solves a business pain point, its potential for commercialisation, how competitive the business can be, and how big the target market is. As such, students who take on these projects can be assured that these startups have what it takes to be commercialised.
There is also a unique experience to be had in embarking on a VBE with Origgin.
“What’s important is that you learn from your failures and never stop trying.”
“You will see a lot of interesting technologies that can make a difference in industries,” says Ms Lum.
“Big multi-national corporations sometimes cannot create these technologies, and these small ventures are the ones who end up bringing such technologies to market. The issue now is really that there is a lack in talent that can commercialise these patents, which is a gap we hope to bridge through this partnership.”
Advising aspiring entrepreneurs on what it means to be entrepreneurial, Ms Lum has this to say. “It can be hard to succeed on your first try — a lot of startups do fail. What’s important is that you learn from your failures and never stop trying.”
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.