Singapore Management University (SMU) Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (IIE) has accepted 43 early-stage start-ups into its bi-annual Business Innovations Generator (BIG) incubation programme.

The start-ups come from various sectors including food & beverage, e-commerce, logistics, urban wellness, sustainability, healthtech, edutech and spacetech. Some of these startups are social e-commerce platform GoHalfHalf, digital coaching platform WeLiveFit, innovation management software ThinkSpace.

BIG start-ups will receive benefits such as nine-month access to co-working space at IIE’s innovation facility The Greenhouse, access to SMU’s faculty expertise, opportunities to funding, grants and other resources.

They will also be coached by 36 mentors comprising business and public sector leaders, a former minister, CEOs, venture capitalists, tech drivers and more. Leveraging the expertise of these mentors, many start-ups who joined the programme earlier have been able to grow and thrive.

“Singapore's start-up system is continually growing, and we are honoured to be able to play our part through this programme in the advancement of the local start-up ecosystem. We are excited to be able to provide such a platform to groom the entrepreneurs of the future, giving them the resources and support that they need to thrive,” says Shirley Wong, Entrepreneur-in-Residence at SMU IIE.

First launched in 2009, the BIG incubation programme is an equity-free four-month long incubation programme for entrepreneurs and start-ups.

See also: Student-led Protege Ventures grooms future VC, start-up recruits

It is designed to provide valuable assistance for early-stage start-ups, across all industries, and their founders to validate their product and prepare for seed investment.

Applications were assessed based on the viability of their business models, validated market needs and potential, as well as the attributes of the founding team such as coachability, integrity, grit and community-orientation. 

They had to clear three stages in the application journey before pitching their business plans to a panel of evaluators made up of IIE’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence, mentors, venture capitalists and industry experts.

In addition to the 10 mentors who participated in the final interview, industry leaders and experts were invited as guest evaluators this year. Guest evaluators include John Cheng, SMU alumnus, director of Cheng Yew Heng Candy Factory and founder of Innovate360; and Jonathan Chang, head of Growth for Governments and Organizations at Shopify amongst other professionals. 

Photo caption: Founders from the 43 start-ups in the August 2021 cohort of the BIG programme
Credit: SMU IIE.