Dated: 25 May 2007
The Interactive and Digital Media (IDM) Research and Development (R&D) Programme Office under the Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA) seeks to encourage a R&D culture in the IDM sector with a new grant. Young start-ups or individuals with exciting R&D ideas can now receive up to S$50,000 through the Microfunding Scheme to seed their ideas and get a chance to be entrepreneurs in the high-growth IDM space.
A budget of S$40 million has been set aside for this initiative, which is part of the S$500 million budget allocated by the National Research Foundation in 2006 to catalyse the growth of the IDM sector in the next five years.
“Through the Microfunding Scheme, MDA hopes to seed about 750 projects and create entrepreneurship opportunities for more than 2,000 individuals over the next five years,” said Dr Christopher Chia, Chief Executive Officer, MDA. “We are looking for projects that are rooted in innovative R&D, in an early stage of development but with the potential to create a sustainable edge, address a unique selling point in both the regional and international markets and possess defensible Intellectual Property rights. More importantly, the applicant must be passionate, demonstrate a clear vision of the project’s business potential and possess the capability to develop it.”
The Microfunding Scheme is a key component of the i.JAM (IDM Jump-start and Mentor) initiative, championed by the multi-agency IDM R&D Programme Office within MDA, which seeks to support individuals and start-ups with breakthrough ideas that can be developed into innovative products and services.
Mr Michael Yap, Executive Director of the IDM R&D Programme Office, said: “The i.JAM initiative is designed to stimulate innovation. Under the Microfunding Scheme, a network of mentors and technology advisors from the academia and industry will support the young start-ups, while an online ‘jamming’ platform is currently being built to match-make and promote innovations. We hope that both the Microfunding Scheme and the ‘jamming’ platform under the i.JAM initiative will serve as the ‘catch-all’ for potentially impactful ideas and serve as a breeding ground of ideas for innovative individuals.”
To date, three mentors have been appointed to the Microfunding Scheme and they are NUS Enterprise, Expara and Azione Capital Pte Ltd. The mentors will administer the grant on behalf of MDA and provide advice to start-ups on the uniqueness of their ideas, aggregate start-ups with similar ideas, offer networks, and provide guidance on securing additional funds and general business advice. MDA hopes to appoint 10 to 15 mentors. Each mentor is expected to incubate at least 10 projects a year. Mentors are also encouraged to invest in the projects.
Associate Professor Dr Wong Poh Kam, Director, NUS Entrepreneurship Centre, NUS Enterprise said: “NUS Enterprise has established a strong track record in mentoring many NUS spin-off companies over the last four years. In the process, we have built up a strong network of experienced mentors, including well-known entrepreneurs and angel investors from Silicon Valley. The Microfunding Scheme will enable us to do a lot more, including extending our mentoring to IDM projects originating outside NUS.”
Mr Douglas Abrams, founder of Expara said: “I have been deeply involved with investing, advising, training and mentoring entrepreneurs and start-up companies in Singapore for the past seven years. Since 2003, I have been focusing on IDM-related start-ups. The Microfunding Scheme will provide a tremendous opportunity for IDM entrepreneurs in Singapore. I am very excited to participate in this initiative and to be able to play a part in building a thriving IDM industry here.”
Mr Nicholas Chan, Executive Director, Azione Capital Pte Ltd said: “Azione Capital adopts a radically different approach to the present approach of ‘big money’ or ‘academics’ start-up incubation. By adopting the Open-source operating framework and bringing the principles of collaboration and open sharing within the Asian business community into the business incubation process, Project:Senso and Azione Capital amalgamate sound business sense and ‘free culture’ collaborative spirit in a dynamic working environment that catalyses the creation of new innovations in IDM technologies and applications. Start-ups under the stewardship of Azione Capital can tap on our in-house mentors as well as the collective expertise and support of over 1,000 Singapore entrepreneur volunteers from Project:Senso.”
To date, some 40 start-up proposals have been received by MDA. Of these, 25 per cent were from students while over half were from young entrepreneurs who have been in the workforce for a few years. The proposals span a wide spectrum, ranging from Web 2.0 sites to services in virtual worlds to mobile applications. Please refer to Annex A for examples of the proposals received.
Individuals or start-ups with innovative R&D ideas can submit their proposals through the mentors listed in Annex B, via the IDM Programme Office website www.idm.sg, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For media enquiries, please contact:
Chia Pei Siang (Ms)
Media Development Authority
Tel: 6837 9010
Gay Chwee Hwa (Ms)
Assistant Director, Communications
Media Development Authority
Tel: (65) 6837 9344
The Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA) was formed on 1 January 2003 to champion Media 21, a blueprint to transform Singapore into a global media city. Media 21 seeks to create a vibrant media environment by establishing Singapore as a media exchange, exporting Made-by- Singapore content, internationalising local media companies, nurturing local media talent and developing digital media. More information on MDA can be found on www.mda.gov.sg.
The development of the IDM sector requires the collaboration of a diverse range of public sector agencies, educational institutions, industry players and other stakeholders. To achieve this, the National Research Foundation has allocated $500 million over the next five years from 2006 to fund the development of a strategic IDM research programme and the set-up of a multi-agency IDM R&D
Programme Office within the Media Development Authority of Singapore to oversee R&D initiatives in the IDM space. This multi-agency team is accountable to the IDM Executive Committee and coordinates a cross-disciplinary effort to deepen Singapore’s research capacity in IDM.
About NUS Enterprise
NUS Enterprise (ETP) was established in 2001, as a University-level cluster to provide an entrepreneurial and innovative dimension to education and research. The ETP mission is to be an agent of change, to promote the spirit of innovation and enterprise within the NUS community, and to generate value from University resources through Experiential Education, Industry Engagement and Partnerships and Entrepreneurship Support.
Expara has been providing training and advisory services for entrepreneurs and start-up companies in Singapore since 2003. Douglas Abrams, the founder of Expara, has personally trained more than 1500 fledgling and current entrepreneurs. Expara focuses on IDM start-ups, conducts the highly successful “From Idea to Investment” workshop series, and has served as an advisor and trainer for more than 50 local early-stage IDM companies. Mr. Abrams has also founded several IDM start-ups in Singapore, is an Adjunct Associate Professor lecturing on entrepreneurship in the Business School at the National University of Singapore, is a partner in Parallax CaChairman of the Business Angel Network of Southeast Asia.
About Azione Capital Pte Ltd
Azione Capital Pte Ltd was incorporated in December 2006 as Asia’s first Community Driven Startup Accelerator. Working hand in hand with Project:Senso Limited and its pool of entrepreneur volunteers, Azione aids aspiring start-ups in building up their business acumen and soft skills, speeding up their development cycle, providing expert advisory, early stage funding, decentralized incubation facilities and opening of market access supported by the Asian business community-at-large.