NUS Enterprise, the entrepreneurial arm of the National University of Singapore, and Stellar Lifestyle, a business arm of SMRT Corporation Ltd, have today entered into a corporate partnership that will kickstart its innovation programme aimed at supporting and rejuvenating its retailers located within SMRT- operated train station premises. Stellar Lifestyle is the largest managing agent of retail and advertising spaces in Singapore’s rail network.
NUS Enterprise and Stellar Lifestyle will identify and support high-potential start-ups from NUS Enterprise’s entrepreneurial eco-system that have innovative technologies and solutions to assist Stellar Lifestyle’s business partners achieve their goals.
“Our 600 retailers in the transit retail network are mostly Small and Medium Businesses. We want to help them emerge stronger and better from the pandemic by building an innovative ecosystem that has the right resources and solutions to address their challenges, and to scale up their businesses. By partnering NUS Enterprise, we tap on their start-up ecosystem to bridge the digital gap of our retailers while accelerating the connection between retailers and commuters. For the high potential start-ups, we can support them to bring their solutions to market and expand their businesses overseas,” said Mr Seah Moon Ming, Chairman, SMRT Corporation.
The collaboration agreement was signed by Professor Freddy Boey, Deputy President (Innovation & Enterprise), NUS, and Mr Tony Heng, President, Stellar Lifestyle, at InnovFest 2022, Asia’s leading innovation conference organised by NUS Enterprise, and the official start-up event of Asia Tech X Singapore.
Said Mr Tony Heng, President, Stellar Lifestyle. “We look forward to working with start- ups that can support our retailers and commuters, helping them become more resilient in the face of an uncertain business environment, by improving their operational effectiveness, uplifting their technical capabilities and technology awareness, and providing new experiences that our commuters can enjoy.
We welcome forward-looking SMB retailers to join our digital platform eco-system, so that we can collaboratively create new revenue opportunities and help them scale their business across our network.”
Launch of the New Technology Access Programme
Central to this corporate partnership is NUS’ Technology Access Programme (TAP). Launched by NUS Enterprise in May 2022, TAP is a new experiential innovation programme that aims to help corporates harness innovation opportunities, capture new business opportunities, and address business challenges. By leveraging its entrepreneurial ecosystem, NUS Enterprise will source and curate suitable technologies or start-ups with potential solutions to address its corporate partner’s needs. (See Annex 1 for the programme details.)
Stellar Lifestyle, the corporate partner for the inaugural TAP, has identified several business needs for its retail partners. They are specifically looking for innovative solutions and technologies that can:
- Improve retailers’ operational efficiency
- Uplift retailers’ technology awareness and expertise
- Assist retailers in delivering new retail experiences and conveniences that meet Singapore commuters’ lifestyle preferences and interests
A call for proposal has resulted in 30 start-ups applying to join the TAP. NUS Enterprise and Stellar Lifestyle shortlisted 14 start-ups to come onboard the programme. Of interest are these two start-ups – Waffle Technologies, which is developing a point-of-sale (POS) and customer loyalty platform for food and beverage (F&B) outlets, and Reachbots Automation, which is developing reliable robotic systems to handle manual labour in hazardous or hard-to-access places. (See Annex 2 for details of these two start-ups.)
Over the next three months, these 14 start-ups will be given the mandate to develop a scalable business model, create a technology commercialisation strategy that addresses Stellar Lifestyle’s business needs and build a minimum viable product (MVP). Throughout their TAP journey, the start-ups will receive advice and guidance from mentors who are industry experts and seasoned entrepreneurs, as well as attend feedback sessions with Stellar Lifestyle’s business units. The Technology Access Programme – a new way of corporate innovation Through the TAP, corporates and participants gain access to four unique elements:
- NUS’ world-class intellectual property (including some 670 patented technologies)
- NUS’ proprietary methodology for launching deep technology start-ups
- NUS Enterprise’s holistic support for start-up incubation and acceleration
- NUS’ entrepreneurial ecosystem, including BLOCK71 global locations, corporate networks such as ICE71 and PIER71 programmes and over 1,000 start-ups within the community
“The NUS Technology Access Programme is a new model of corporate partnership. What makes it unique is that it addresses two key innovation challenges: corporate innovation, where companies find it difficult to innovate and develop disruptive solutions for business success; and helping start-ups with novel solutions cross the chasm and reach the next stage of growth, where they can sell their disruptive products to mainstream customers,” explained Professor Freddy Boey, Deputy President (Innovation & Enterprise), NUS. “Through TAP, corporates can shortlist the best solutions and work closely with teams to refine their solutions according to their business needs. Simultaneously, start-ups in our ecosystem will have the opportunity to pilot their solutions that address real world problems and collaborate with a corporate partner to bring them to market.”
Supporting start-ups to solve real world problems
Stellar Lifestyle has set aside $100,000 to support successful teams to build their MVPs during the TAP programme. Support for the teams continues beyond the TAP, in recognition of the high likelihood that start-ups’ solutions can be commercially deployed. Teams that are selected to join the Proof-of-Concept stage will spend the next six months fine-tuning and test-bedding their MVP on site, within SMRT-operated train stations with business end-users. NUS Enterprise will continue to provide teams with acceleration support, through regular pulse checks with mentors and Stellar Lifestyle.
In early 2023, teams will make their final pitch at Demo Day. This will allow Stellar Lifestyle to decide if it wishes to scale-up the start-ups’ solutions post Proof-of-Concept stage with an additional $200,000 set aside for this purpose.
About NUS Enterprise
NUS Enterprise, the entrepreneurial arm of NUS, plays a pivotal role in advancing innovation and entrepreneurship at NUS and beyond. It actively promotes entrepreneurship and cultivates global mind-sets and talents through the synergies of experiential entrepreneurial education, active industry partnerships, holistic entrepreneurship support and catalytic entrepreneurship outreach. Its initiatives and global connections support a range of entrepreneurial journeys and foster ecosystem building in new markets. These initiatives augment and complement the University’s academic programmes and act as a unique bridge to industry well beyond Singapore’s shores. For more information, please visit https://enterprise.nus.edu.sg.
About Stellar Lifestyle
Stellar Lifestyle, a business arm of SMRT Corporation Limited, has expertise in property and retail management, media and digital advertising solutions. We create vibrant transit destinations and lifestyle experiences to make our everyday touchpoints better. Our growing portfolio includes mall management and outdoor media & digital engagement platforms. We are also the largest managing agent of retail and advertising spaces in Singapore’s rail network.