Protégé Ventures Launches S$500,000 Fund II to Fuel Early-Stage Technology Start-ups Led by Student Founders
SINGAPORE, 11 September 2023: Protégé Ventures (PV), a student-run venture fund programme set up by the Singapore Management University Institute of Innovation & Entrepreneurship (SMU IIE), has launched the Marina & David Su Protégé Ventures Fund II.
This $500,000 sector-agnostic fund marks a milestone in fostering innovation and entrepreneurship in tertiary institutions in Singapore, and will permit more investment in early-stage technology start-ups founded by students or recent graduates of Singapore’s polytechnics and universities which are seeking their pre-seed to seed funding.
This fund is made possible by the generosity of Mr David Su, founding managing partner of Matrix Partners China and a member of the SMU Enterprise Board. Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies, Mr Heng Swee Keat, witnessed the launch of the fund at the opening ceremony of the Finals Week of the 11th Lee Kuan Yew Global Business Plan Competition (LKYGBPC), a biennial university start-up challenge organised by SMU IIE.
The PV fund programme was formed in 2017 to facilitate connections between university innovations and venture capital funding, and to foster collaboration among students across different tertiary institutions. PV also extends an opportunity for students to gain practical insights into the complex venture investment landscape, nurturing the next generation of tech and entrepreneurial leaders.
In the seven years since its inception, PV has witnessed significant success. It has trained a total of 251 students, evaluated over 1,100 deals and invested S$265,000 in 10 student start-ups that have collectively raised over S$35 million from notable institutional investors to date.
Said Mr Su: “As a venture capitalist, I have witnessed how venture capital has effectively funded disruptive innovations that fundamentally change the way we work and live. For Singapore to successfully engage the challenges of tomorrow, we must cultivate a new generation of tech-savvy, agile and skilled decision-makers who can take the lead in navigating the turbulent and uncertain technological and economic landscape with sensitivity and wisdom.”
Mr Su noted PV’s strong track record since 2017, which makes PV a credible channel for investing in student start-ups. “Our student VCs, essentially the leaders of tomorrow, are choosing to fund the future they believe in,” he added. “To ensure the continual success of initiatives designed to develop youth innovation and entrepreneurship like PV and the LKYGBPC, I believe forward-thinking investors with the experience and acumen should support them. By launching this fund, I am ‘putting money where my mouth is,’ and I urge more investors of my generation to step forward to do likewise,” he concluded.
Key Highlights of BLAZE Opening Ceremony
With the theme 'Innovations Beyond Boundaries - Reimagining a Smart, Sustainable & Resilient Future’, 53 finalist teams (Revolutionary 50) are in Singapore from 11 to 15 September 2023 for the LKYGBPC’s Finals Week. The Revolutionary 50 (or RVLT50) will take part in BLAZE, the week-long immersion event that features live pitching, networking opportunities, panel discussions, site visits, mentorship sessions, and a social mixer that combine to form an environment that fosters learning, collaboration, and growth.
Launch of Book Featuring Inspiring Stories of the 10th LKYGBPC Finalists
The success of the 10th LKYGBPC held in 2021 spurred three faculty members from SMU’s Lee Kong Chian School of Business — Chiraphol N Chiyachantana, David K. Ding and Tamas Makany — to write a practitioner’s book in collaboration with SMU IIE. The book captures the inspiring founder stories of nine finalists as well as their entrepreneurial business models. Titled "Pioneering A Smart, Sustainable, and Resilient Future: Founder Stories and Business Models", the book offers new business strategies for the digital age, shares real-life case studies from innovative digital start-ups, and outlines applicable technologies for sustainable urban innovations.
Fireside Chat with DPM Heng Swee Keat and Mr David Su
The opening ceremony was followed by a dialogue featuring DPM Heng and Mr Su. Moderated by Professor Lim Sun Sun, SMU’s Vice President of Partnerships and Engagement, the session delved into the shaping of the next wave of the Southeast Asian tech start-up ecosystem in the post-COVID decade.
Key Highlights of BLAZE
On 13 September, the finalists will visit The GEAR Future City Festival (held in conjunction with the 11th LKYGBPC) at The GEAR, Kajima Corporation’s regional headquarters, overseas R&D centre and built environment innovation hub in Changi Business Park. They will attend the LKYGBPC Changemakers Conversations on ‘Constructing Climate-Resilient Cities of Tomorrow: The Essential Role of Innovation, Financial Sustainability, and Cross-Sector Collaborations in Built Environment’, a thought leadership panel discussion by industry experts, tech start-ups and academia.
Four finalists will also compete for the 11th LKYGBPC ‘Kajima Built Environment Innovation Prize’ Pitch Challenge, witness the launch of The GEAR Residency Programme and experience a building tour of The GEAR’s facilities.
The next generation of trailblazers will be unveiled at the Grand Finals on 14 September 2023. Open to the public, the event offers an opportunity for attendees to witness the talent, expertise and passion of finalists as they pitch to judges in real time to win prizes worth S$2.5 million. In the evening, SMU will host the LKYGBPC BLAZE Mixer Night, an event bringing together the LKYGBPC winners and finalists, innovation champions from corporates and government agencies, and Singapore’s vibrant youth entrepreneur communities. The grand winners of the competition and the winners for two other prizes will be announced at this event.
Prof Lim Sun Sun, SMU’s VP of Partnerships and Engagement (新加坡管理大学—合作与交流总监林珊珊教授) noted that universities are critical levers of change and societal progress. “In a world marked with significant societal challenges, universities are the wellsprings of innovation undergirded by academic rigour, interdisciplinary insights and entrepreneurial fervour. We can tap this innovative drive to help address or ameliorate critical issues such as climate change and social inequality,” she said.
“In this dynamic ecosystem, every idea has the potential to reshape industries, uplift communities, and forge a better tomorrow. The LKYGBPC plays a key role in shaping collaboration with industry and the launch of the Marina & David Su Protégé Ventures Fund II is one such step in that direction. I am certain that this new fund and the LKYGBPC will empower and nurture students by enabling opportunities for them to collaborate with industry at a deeper level,” Prof Lim added.
Singapore has been an attractive hub for international start-ups. It is home to nearly 4,800 tech start-ups, 252 incubators and accelerators, 529 investors, and 700 family offices (https://www.startupsg.gov.sg). According to the Global Start-up Ecosystem Report (GSER) 2023, the city-state rose an impressive ten places in the ranking from #18 to #8 in the GSER 2022 and is the second-highest ranked Asian ecosystem after Beijing.
Members of the public can register here to attend the Grand Finals of the LKYGBPC and the Mixer Night.
Annexe A: Detailed Programme for 11th LKYGBPC
Annexe B: List of 53 Finalist Teams (RVLT 50)
Annexe C: List of Supporters and Partners
About David Su (徐传陞):
David Su is a founding managing partner (创始管理合伙人) at Matrix Partners China (经纬创投), focused primarily on software, technology, and healthcare investments. Recognised as one of the top-ranked Singaporean venture capitalists in Forbes Midas 2023, David has been investing in China for the last two decades and some of his investments include Didi Chuxing (NSDQ:DIDI), Baidu (NSDQ:BIDU), Bona Film (NSDQ:BONA), Focus Media (NSDQ:FMCN), Kanghui Medical (NYSE:KH), Kingfriend Biochemical (SS:603707), China Youzan (8083.HK), AAC Technologies (2018.HK), Heptagon (SIX:AMS).
Before Matrix, David was a founding general partner of TDF Capital and KPCB China. Prior to joining the venture capital industry, David worked at Lotus Development, IBM Software Group for seven years and was last responsible for Lotus’ software and services business in Greater China region. David graduated with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Computer Engineering from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
David is a Fellow of the inaugural class of the China Fellowship Program and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network. He also co-founded San Si Institute, a community of high-achieving entrepreneurial leaders in China who are committed to tackle the big challenges of our society. Marina is David’s spouse.
About LKYGBPC (李光耀全球商业计划大赛):
Organised by Singapore Management University’s Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the Lee Kuan Yew Global Business Plan Competition (LKYGBPC) is a biennial university-led start-up challenge. One of the largest of such competitions in Asia, it derives its name from Singapore’s founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, who developed the country’s defining business plan that propelled Singapore onto the global stage. It is this spirit of entrepreneurship, innovation and ambition that the competition enshrines. LKYGBPC invites the brightest minds from the world’s most entrepreneurial universities to come together to address the challenges of the 21st century and reimagine the future. For more information: smu.sg/lkygbpc
About SMU IIE (新加坡管理大学创新与创业研究院):
The Singapore Management University’s Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (IIE) is a practice-oriented institute that nurtures changemakers and founders who aspire to make the world a better place. To achieve this mission, IIE focuses on its three areas of competencies which include customising training programmes, offering an equity-free incubation programme, and fostering a cohesive innovation and entrepreneurship community through activities such as its marquee event – the Lee Kuan Yew Global Business Plan Competition (LKYGBPC). For more information: https://iie.smu.edu.sg
About SMU (新加坡管理大学):
Singapore Management University (SMU) is internationally recognised for its world-class research and distinguished teaching. Established in 2000, SMU’s mission is to generate leading-edge research with global impact and to produce broad-based, creative, and entrepreneurial leaders for the knowledge-based economy. SMU faculty members collaborate with leading international researchers and universities around the world, as well as with partners in the business community and public sector. For more information: www.smu.edu.sg
For media inquiries, please contact:
June Seah/ Koh Joh Ting
juneseah [at] smu.edu.sg/ jtkoh [at] smu.edu.sg
stephanie [at] aprw.asia