In a bid to raise the next generation of entrepreneurs, Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) has joined hands with UOB to launch AGILE, a campus incubator to drive innovation, learning and entrepreneurship. Launched today by Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung, AGILE will bring startups in close proximity to NP’s student body, where they can gain real-life experience of the startup world.
“By leveraging UOB’s fintech expertise and financial services, our incubatees will have more direct access to financing resources and consultations, and thus enable them to scale more quickly. At the same time, we hope that the space will encourage fintech innovation, and complement our efforts in seeding entrepreneurial ideas among our youths,” says NP Principal Clarence Ti.
AGILE - which stands for Accelerating Growth in Innovation, Learning and Entrepreneurship - takes up 10,000 sq ft at NP’s Block 58 and serves as an incubator for start-ups to grow their businesses. Managed by The Sandbox, NP’s innovation and entrepreneurship office, it will provide startups with resources like workspaces, mentoring by The Finlab - UOB’s innovation accelerator - support services and training programmes, as well as co-creation opportunities.
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So far, ten startups have joined AGILE. These come from diverse sectors ranging from events management to medical devices. These include peer-to-peer learning platform Kalpha, which has partnered with The Sandbox to develop an app to allow entrepreneurs to share trends shaping Singapore’s entrepreneurial landscape.
NP Students also stand to gain from AGILE-based internships with NP and UOB where they can learn about entrepreneurship and collaboration as they interact with these startups. This complements existing NP entrepreneurship initiatives like Start-up Talent Factory, which links polytechnic graduates to job opportunities in start-ups. Events such as financial literacy workshops and expert talks on innovation and career guidance will also be held at AGILE.
AGILE also features community spaces like [email protected], where students can gain hands-on experience running their own cafe on-premises. The space will be co-managed by student interns supervised and mentored by UOB employees. They will complete a 24-week stint where they will learn customer service, operational risk and compliance.
“[email protected], students will also learn how to anticipate customer needs, with the guidance from our UOB colleagues. These will be their real-life experiences that go beyond any textbook knowledge,” says Jacquelyn Tan, Head of Group Personal Financial Services at UOB.
Janet Young, Head of Group Channels and Digitalisation, UOB, hopes to link student entrepreneurs with regional startup opportunities. “Through our ecosystem partnerships, we can also provide students with access to coworking spaces in ASEAN and China, as well as opening doors for internship opportunities with tech start-ups across the region,” she proclaims.