Spike in the number of social enterprises start-ups

The grand prize went to Avetics, a start-up that adapts military satellite technology for civilian purposes, such as surveillance of logging activities and disaster rescues

After months of business bootcamps, networking events and mentoring sessions, Start-Up@Singapore’s finest teams have finally pitched their way toward start-up success.

Start-up@Singapore said 275 teams submitted their business plans, a record in its 13-year history.

Pioneering this year is the social enterprise or co-operative category.

Director of NUS Entrepreneurship Centre, Professor Wong Poh Kam, said he was impressed with the spike in start-ups this year in the new category.

Professor Wong said: “This reflects a growing interest not just among the young who wants to make a good social impact, but also among some of the more senior members of the public. Some of them are senior executives who are semi-retired but feel that they want to give back to society and therefore want to start social enterprises and I really applaud their spirit.”

These budding social entrepreneurs want to tackle a range of issues like advocating volunteerism among Singaporeans to creating jobs in the food industry for low-income homemakers.

Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS), Chan Chun Sing said the government will continue to support the growth of social entrepreneurship in Singapore.

The Ministry will look into developing new programmes such as internships, training grants, mentorships and scholarships.

The grand prize of S$20,000 went to Avetics, a start-up that adapts military satellite technology for civilian purposes, such as surveillance of logging activities and disaster rescues.

Avetics founder Zheng Weiliang explained how Start-Up@Singapore helped him to realise his business idea.

Zheng said: “Start-Up@Singapore provides very good quality judges who give us very insightful comments and suggestions to our business plans. From there, our company has actually tweaked our business plan to be more robust.”

The runner-ups from all categories featured unique innovations, including environmentally-friendly silk and shopping trolleys made from bamboo.

The winners of the Youth Category received S$8,000 to take their business forward.

Team leader of GoldPlus, Wang Hao, said they would use the money to further improve their diesel prototype, which already boasted a 15 per cent improvement in fuel efficiency.

Running for its 13th year, over 70 successful startups have been created as a result of the competition.

This article was first published in CNA

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