SINGAPORE, 2 March 2021 – Singapore Management University’s (SMU) Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (IIE) today announced the finals of the 10th edition of the Lee Kuan Yew Global Business Plan Competition (LKYGBPC), titled as BLAZE, will be held from 18 to 19 March. The competition has attracted over 850 entries from 650 universities across 60 countries.
Finance Minister Mr Heng Swee Keat’s address during the recent Budget 2021 emphasised the government’s aim to continue its support in fostering a strong spirit of innovation and enterprise to deepen Singapore’s position as a global-Asia node. In line with this, the 10th LKYGBPC will also witness the launch of the inaugural VC Office Hours (VCOH) on 18 March, a marquee industry event with participation from more than 30 senior partners at leading venture capital firms who manage assets totalling US$16 billion collectively. The start-up ecosystem across the world will be able to participate in a series of exciting virtual events to be held during BLAZE.
Hau Koh Foo, Director, Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (IIE) at SMU, said, “We are excited to be able to provide a platform to connect like-minded start-up founders with some of the most prominent VCs in Singapore and the region, especially amid today’s climate. Even during the pandemic, start-ups in Singapore and all over the globe have continued to present exemplary potential, catalysed by growing digital adoption. Today, Singapore is recognised as the leading hub for the start-up economy in this region, and serves as an ideal gateway for companies to tap into this region. We are glad to have had such a good response for the VC Office Hours, and we’re certain that our founders will walk away from their consultations with valuable insights and learnings on the ecosystem at large, and how it has progressed in the region.”
Singapore’s tech start-up ecosystem has seen a continuous growth in the last five years, having grown from about 1,000 tech-enabled start-ups in 2018 to over 4,000 in 2019, according to a recent report by PwC. In parallel, venture investments in Singapore have also continued to grow – a total amount of S$13.4 billion was invested in start-ups across 437 deals from January to September 2019, with early-stage funding almost doubling over the same period to S$886.1 million across 304 deals as reported by Enterprise Singapore (ESG).
Powered by Protégé Ventures, Southeast Asia’s first student-run venture fund, the VCOH provides a rare chance for founders – especially those from early-stage start-ups – to benefit from the experienced perspectives and insights by established investors on their business ideas, growth strategy, fundraising plans and other aspects of the start-up journey. These personalised consultations provide a significant advantage to the start-ups by directly addressing their existing concerns and introducing new ideas to bring their business forward, thereby placing them in the best possible position to achieve maximum growth.
The participation by the region’s most recognisable VCs in VCOH signifies their commitment and intent to assist start-ups in the regional innovation ecosystem by contributing their time and knowledge to groom new entrepreneurs. They include:
The full list of participating VCs can be found in the Annex and at smu.sg/VCOH.
As slots are limited, prospective participants are required to send in their applications which will be reviewed by an SMU-appointed panel. No fees or prerequisites are necessary. Selected applicants will be matched with a suitable venture capitalist based on their respective areas of interest and industry specialisations, then allocated a 30-minute one-to-one consultation slot for specialised, in-depth discussions on the event date itself.
Student VCs from Protégé Ventures will also be hosting the VCs during VCOH on 18 March. This provides a valuable opportunity for them to interact and learn first-hand from the respected panel of VCs.
“This rare opportunity to shadow some of Southeast Asia's most distinguished VCs will be an eye-opening experience for us. Not only will we be able to observe first-hand how top-tier VCs break down each founder’s pitch to provide actionable insights, we can also gain greater exposure to promising start-ups, innovation trends and investment patterns from around the region. Through the VC Office Hours, we get to further sharpen our analytical capabilities and be empowered on our journeys as we aspire to become the VCs and entrepreneurial leaders of tomorrow,” said Yong Hua Bing, Partner, Protégé Ventures, SUTD-SMU Dual Degree Programme Class of 2020.
On 19 March, the Changemakers Conversations will see like-minded entrepreneurs, advocates and disruptors come together to discuss ‘Growth in Asia’. The platform aims to enable them to share their thoughts and ideas, build deeper connections and spark collaborations. This will culminate in the Grand Finals Pitch on the same day, where the eight grand finalist teams will be competing for the top honours, where each category winner (0 to 1; and 1 to infinity) will walk away with a cash prize of S$100,000. Teams in the 0 to 1 category are start-ups that are at a pre-revenue stage with disruptive technology or business model innovations, whereas those in the 1 to infinity category are early-stage start-ups, up to Series A stage, who have started generating revenue.
The other accolades that will be conferred to the grand finalists include prizes such as the SMU Chancellor Cup that awards the most promising Singapore team, Sino-Singapore Nanjing Eco Hi-tech Island Investment Prize, Kajima Smart Construction Deployment Prize and People’s Choice Award, amongst other awards.
The VCOH will take place on the first day (18 March) of BLAZE, from 12:20pm to 4:00pm. To learn more about VCOH or LKYGBPC, please visit the official website at www.smu.edu.sg/lky/.
 Ministry of Finance (Singapore), https://www.mof.gov.sg/singaporebudget/budget-speech/c-emerging-stronger-with-skilled-workers-and-innovative-businesses
 PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), https://www.pwc.com/sg/en/financial-services/assets/tech-startup-funding-trends-and-outlook.pdf
 Enterprise Singapore (ESG), https://www.enterprisesg.gov.sg/media-centre/media-releases/2019/october/venture-investments-in-singapore-rise