Discovering and nurturing entrepreneurs through SMU Innovation Awards
· A total of 30 teams submitted their business proposals, which ranged from social networking, mobile applications, crowd-sourcing platforms, to e-commerce and digital devices.
· 10 finalist teams competed for grants of $10,000 to prototype and commercialise their innovative ideas, as well as a place in the IIE Incubation Programme.
· Five teams emerged as winners, two of which comprised of students from different schools across SMU.
An air of anticipation, tension and excitement was palpable as the 10 teams from SMU took turns to present their ideas to a panel of judges at the finals of the 4th SMU Innovation Awards held on 14 November 2014.
At stake were grants of $10,000 to prototype and commercialise their innovative ideas, as well as a place in the IIE Incubation Programme. To be eligible for the grant, the winning teams will need to form a registered company and have well defined milestones for taking the idea to market.
Organised by the SMU Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (IIE), the competition was launched in August and is open to SMU students, faculty, staff and alumni. A total of 30 teams submitted their business proposals, which ranged from social networking, mobile applications, crowd-sourcing platforms, to e-commerce and digital devices.
The judges for the finals were mentors from IIE and the Action Community for Entrepreneurship (ACE) Ms Genevieve Heng, Mr Uday Deshpande, Mr Lim Song Joo, as well as faculty member Assistant Professor Terence Fan from SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business (LKCSB).
[Photo: Members of the judging panel listened intently to and asked probing questions of the 10 finalist teams.]
The teams were judged on the innovativeness of the business idea, commercial feasibility of the business model, potential market opportunity, execution capability, and IP strategy.
Five teams eventually won the hearts of the judges. They were:
·Dean’s List: by Chew Swee Hau (LKCSB), Sherman Tan Si Xian (School of Information Systems, SIS) and Chen Guorui (SIS). They created a platform where students are given opportunities to sell their skills and earn hands-on experience through working on real jobs.
·Leggo: by Edric Subur (SIS) who developed a mobile application for making gatherings happen without chats and rewards users by polling and voting.
·Protégé: by Sharon Yeo Qian Ling (LKCSB), Stephenie Pang Yuan Hong (LKCSB) and Joel Tang Wei Liang (School of Accountancy, SOA) who conceptualized a mentoring programme administrator that matches and tracks mentors and mentees progress.
·Spotted!: by Tan Ying Chun (SOA) who created a profit-sharing system through games that promises advertisers a minimum of 30 seconds view time per user.
·Tech Society: by Jackson Kwa Jian Hui (SIS) who developed a solution to resolve the problems of long queues, taxi shortages and traffic congestion.
SMU President Professor Arnoud De Meyer graced the finals and presented the Certificate of Achievement to the winning teams.
[Photo: Jackson Kwa of Tech Society explaining how his solution could help resolve the problems of long queues, taxi shortages and traffic congestion.]
Jackson Kwa of Tech Society, a winner of SMU Innovation Awards, said, “The competition is a great platform to help students bring their ideas to fruition, network and interact with other teams from diverse background, and receive valuable feedback on areas the improve from the judging panel. It has also been very helpful in providing me with access to knowledge, expertise and mentorship.”
On his advice to budding entrepreneurs, Jackson said “First, I think being willing to learn from other people is one of the most important skills needed to be an entrepreneur. You have to be constantly learning from people who are better than you. Be always willing to try out new things and to take that first step towards putting ideas into action. Ideas are everywhere, but very few can persevere to the end.
“Second, not giving up despite countless failures, and no matter how tough and hopeless one might feel at times. If you try and work hard enough, one day you will reach your goal. The key is to start taking small steps to make a difference in the future today.”
[Featured photo: SMU President Professor Arnoud De Meyer, (back row, 3rd from left) IIE Associate Director Mr Krishna Kumar, members of the judging panel (back row, 4th and 5th from left) Ms Genevieve Heng, Mr Uday Deshpande and (back row, 3rd from right) Mr Lim Song Joo, with the five winning teams of SMU Innovation Awards 2014.]