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Business Advice

New task force to help start-ups market ideas

It will help them to network, seek investors and make funding pitch
The Straits Times - April 20, 2012
By: Grace Chng
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New task force to help start-ups market ideas Mr Teo Ser Luck at the opening of InnovFest 2012 at the Orchard Hotel yesterday, where the setting up of the ACE Tech Connect Task Force was announced. -- PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE has many good researchers but they need help to market their technologies, which is where a new initiative from the Action Community for Entrepreneurs (ACE) comes in.

It involves establishing a task force to help start-ups deal with issues like intellectual property and technology transfer.

The ACE Tech Connect Task Force will be jointly led by Mr Philip Lim, chief executive of Exploit Technologies, and Dr Steven Fang, deputy chairman of ACE and the founder and group chief executive of the just-listed firm Cordlife.

The initiative was announced at yesterday's opening of InnovFest 2012 at the Orchard Hotel.

The three-day event, now in its third year, is staged by the National University of Singapore's Entrepreneurship Centre to boost technology transfer and investment among Asia's business and academic communities.

This year, for the first time, InnovFest will feature a technology commercialisation forum. The Association of University Technology Managers Asia, which is taking part in InnovFest for the first time, will have speakers discussing trends in intellectual property and other issues.

Mr Teo Ser Luck, Minister of State for Trade and Industry and ACE chairman, said after the opening ceremony that the task force will make it easier for start-ups to network with other groups, share ideas, look for investors and pitch for funding.

'Start-ups may not know who are running the networks. We'll get the info and provide the link, create an informal environment for them so that they can find the information they need,' he said.

Mr Teo hopes entrepreneurs will emerge whose products and services are used on different continents and can be held up as role models in Singapore.

Such global champions need not be billion-dollar companies or hire many employees, but it will be important that they have a social purpose, he said.

For example, a local company that can provide protective clothing to aid the well-being of the elderly would be useful anywhere in the world.

Start-ups need not be all about high-tech products, Mr Teo said. Hawkers can be 'hawkerpreneurs' too. A special place could be allotted for them in a food centre to, for example, cook and try out new dishes.

The minister is particularly keen to catch budding entrepreneurs when they are in school. 'Entrepreneurship provides a lot of opportunities for character development; the schoolkids can experience the real world with all its ups and downs,' he said.

He believes it should not be taught by teachers but by entrepreneurs, supplemented by company visits. It should not be an examinable paper, nor an elective.

'I'm thinking about how to do this project,' he added.

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