Global start-up generator and early-stage venture capital firm Antler and the National University of Singapore (NUS), via the Graduate Research Innovation Programme (GRIP), has launched an Executive Programme to enable more entrepreneurs to build successful deep tech start-ups. The bespoke six-month part-time programme will combine the best of both organisations including platforms, funding and ecosystems.
Antler and NUS aim to enable and invest in around 30 deep tech start-ups annually through this joint initiative. They will provide founders with the support to form the right team, investment funding of up to S$240,000 each, and access to their combined global advisory networks.
This unique programme allows talents to keep their current jobs, while they explore finding the right partners and launching their new ventures. With Antler’s methodology, founders with software or deep tech skills will be matched to those with a business background, to create a strong founding team. NUS will provide teams with access to its rich repository of research-based technologies and innovations, which the teams can tap on to formulate their start-ups.
The programme will run in two phases for a total of six months. Under Phase 1, participants will form a team to identify and validate a business idea. At the end of Phase 1, teams will be evaluated for a US$100,000 investment by Antler. Companies selected by Antler for investment that are eligible will enter Phase 2 to further develop their prototype and business case to be market-ready. At the end of Phase 2, companies will be evaluated for a further funding of S$100,000 by NUS.
“We see a lot of entrepreneurial talents tied by “golden handcuffs” to their jobs in leading corporates, late stage start-ups, universities, etc. They are highly capable and experienced, have deep domain expertise, and intrapreneurial experiences, such as launching new products and developing new markets. They want to start their own companies but are unable to take the “leap of faith” and quit their jobs; at least not before building their teams, validating their ideas and securing initial investments,” said Mr Mike Nikou, Partner, Capital, Antler.
“Research, innovation and enterprise are the cornerstones of Singapore’s national strategy to develop a knowledge-based innovation-driven economy and society. Our country has committed more than S$30 billion in the last decade to establish Singapore as a global research and development hub. We also have a strong scientific base with more than 8,000 PhDs being trained locally every year. With a strong talent pool and substantial R&D investment, Singapore and NUS has the potential to build more and greater deep tech companies,” said Professor Freddy Boey, NUS Deputy President (Innovation and Enterprise).
The partnership between Antler and NUS will kick-off in a pilot in the first quarter of 2020 with an expected intake of more than 60 commercial and tech founders. Participants will be selected based on their expertise (business or technical), entrepreneurial amplitude, and commitment to starting up if their project is funded. For a start, the programme will support start-ups across four categories: bio & health-tech, sustainability & environment, industry 4.0, and artificial intelligence.
“This joint programme brings together the best of NUS’ tech talents, cutting edge IP, tech advisors and facilities, and the Antler’s global network of advisors and investors, to help start-ups be competitive at a global level from the onset,” said Ms Irene Cheong, Director, NUS Industry Liaison Office.
“Our programme will help commercial founders pair up with software and deep tech founders, and form scalable and defensible start-ups. Both NUS and Antler are bringing our validated methodologies in successful start-up generation to create international deep tech champions,” said Mr Dimitri Maroulis, Senior Director, Program, Antler.
Applications for the joint executive programme are open from now until 5 January 2020. Representatives from Antler and NUS will be present at the upcoming Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology (SWITCH) event, from 11 to 13 November 2019, to share more about this new programme with interested attendees at their respective booths. Business and tech candidates (NUS and non-NUS) can apply at www.executivedeeptech.com.