Singapore private university, SIM to invest US$35.1 million to support entrepreneurs in Platform E

Singapore private university, SIM to invest US$35.1 million to support entrepreneurs in Platform E

A major Singapore private university, Singapore Institute of Management (SIM) is investing S$50 million (about US$35.1 million) into an initiative to nurture future entrepreneurs and help scale startups and SMEs.

The programme for aspiring entrepreneurs which turns ideas into businesses is known as Platform E. It will be operating at a 25,000 square feet co-working space at the SIM Management House in Namly Avenue. The place will also be rented out as a commercial co-working space for non-programme participants.

The industry-agnostic programme will seek to train and equip entrepreneurs with the necessary skill sets, incubate business ideas and help startups develop their go-to-market strategies as well as identifying their product market fit. Professional corporate services, peers, investors, mentors will also be brought on board to facilitate the programme.

“SIM will adopt a multi-pronged approach to eventually includes initiatives to facilitate business startups, help small businesses scale up as well as fund promising ventures,” said a spokesperson from SIM.

Heading Platform E is Mr. Alan Wong and Professor Virginia Cha, who are the chief executive and lead programme developer respectively. Alan Wong is a veteran business advisor who has 20 years of handling both entrepreneurial startups and C-level experience in large organisations such as Cable & Wireless and Huawei Devices. While Professor Virginia Cha is an active researcher, educator, mentor and angel investor in Singapore’s entrepreneurship ecosystem with 32 years of an executive management role in technology companies.

“We believe that any good entrepreneurship programme must help the individual acquire deep business and leadership skills, and more importantly, inculcate in him the fortitude to take on and sustain a long and challenging journey,” says Mr. Alan Wong, “Platform E will equip the entrepreneur not just to run his own businesses but to also take on the role of an intrapreneur within an organisation.”

Platform E will launch in April 2017 and the entrepreneurship programme is not only open to fresh graduates, but also to professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) who are seeking a career switch. Existing entrepreneurs who meet with roadblocks are also eligible to apply.

The SIM-initiative will feature two entrepreneurship tracks – IntenseE Track and IncubatE Track which are a 12-months and 4-months programme respectively.

The longer programme is aimed at fresh graduates who are new to entrepreneurship or people looking for a career switch, equipping them with the essential know-hows to ideate, start, operate and sustain a business. The programme offers a full suite of solid grounding and will end with a pitch day where participants can showcase their startups.

On the contrary, the four-months programme is designed for mid-journey entrepreneurs who are stuck at roadblocks or have the intention to scale up their businesses. This programmes is made to impart in-depth industry knowledge and practices and will customize electives according to specific needs.

Commenting on Platform E, the Chairman of its Board of Directors and Member of SIM’s Governing Council, Mr. Tan Choon Seng says, “As we move into a future of ever greater market disruptions, entrepreneurship and innovation will be a key engine of economic growth. Platform E is SIM’s first move to support Singapore’s push in the new economy.”

Besides Platform E, SIM’s S$50 million investment will also go towards supporting promising start-ups mainly at pre-seed and seed stage.

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By Vivian Foo, Unicorn Media

NetEase, one of China’s biggest game companies is expanding into the Pork business

NetEase, one of China's biggest game companies is expanding into the Pork business

Chinese internet giant, NetEase (NASDAQ:NTES) which operates Blizzard’s World of Warcraft in China, on top of running a highly trafficked internet news portal is also now expanding into the business of raising organic free-range pigs, after its debut with the auction of three Jeju Black Pigs which are said to have a unique flavor.

NetEase auctioned the three black pigs over the weekend. The bidding for the first pig started at one yuan on November 25 but was in the end auctioned off at an astonishing price of 110, 000 yuan (about US$15,900). The second one fetched an even higher price of 160,000 yuan (about US$ 23,150).

The last one – a 42 kg black pig reared by NetEase was auctioned at a recorded 277,000 yuan (about US$ 40,000) on November 27, heralding the company’s seven-year experiment of rearing quality have finally validated the online gaming giant’s position in the commercial pig farm business.

Looking at this, the animal which weighed more than 42 kg, including shoulder, streaky pork, legs, etc. sees each kilogram worth more than 2,600 yuan (about US$377), which equates or even topped the price to Kobe beef, a famous Japanese delicacy.

However, for NetEase founder and CEO, Ding Lei, producing black pork is more of a public relation effort or social service rather than a profitable business. As the NetEase’s pig farm revenue with its limited production is minuscule compared to its core internet game business.

But if black pork becomes popular in China and NetEase’s pig-rearing business maintains reasonable profits, NetEase may still get a slice of China’s pork market which is worth 1.4 trillion yuan (about US$ 203 billion).

Nevertheless, CEO Ding Lei ultimate aim is not in revenue but rather to revive Chinese livestock-rearing methods and to win the government and consumer goodwill for NetEase. Proposing a science-based production of safe, healthy meat, the company will upload its model and process on the Internet.

NetEase also promises its black pork to be safe and delicious while the rearing process is environment-friendly. The black pigs at the base are fed only natural food, raised for 300 days, kept in green bamboos with smart monitoring.

It is also worth noting that the pigs learn to use the toilet and keep themselves healthy.

“Pigs at our production base use the toilets, sleep in apartments. They never take injections and medicines. In other words, their living habits are healthier than many people,” Ding Lei said, “Besides, they enjoy exclusive feed, which is provided by nutrition experts from home and abroad. I can say that the pigs are happier than pandas except for the fact that they will be eaten by people.”

This would be a long-term investment for Ding Lei, as confident of his pork quality, the NetEase CEO is also planning to establish a gourmet pork restaurant – highlighting his livestock early next year in Zhejiang Province.

Besides, 20,000 black pigs will also go on sale in December and the price will not be as expensive as in the auction, “It will costs roughly between 30 yuan and 40 yuan, depending on the parts of pigs. The price is a bit higher than the price in farmers’ markets and cheaper than the price in specialty supermarkets,” Ding Lei said.

By Vivian Foo, Unicorn Media