Eyes on the Future: NUS Enterprise@Singapore Science Park - A Catalyst for Entrepreneurial Dreams
Eyes on the Future: NUS Enterprise@Singapore Science Park - A Catalyst for Entrepreneurial Dreams
Discover how NUS Enterprise@Singapore Science Park has nurtured Singrow and KosmodeHealth in their deep technology ecosystem
Step into a world where ideas soar, dreams ignite, and innovation thrives. NUS Enterprise, the entrepreneurial arm of the National University of Singapore (NUS), has been cultivating a vibrant ecosystem of innovation since 2001. Here, the brightest minds, from aspiring entrepreneurs to trailblazing researchers, come together. Fuelling their ambitions, NUS Enterprise’s programmes and ecosystem help start-ups to innovate and scale up.
Drawing on NUS’ research expertise and CapitaLand’s facilities and ecosystem offerings, NUS Enterprise@Singapore Science Park provides a platform for the development and commercialisation of deep technologies that are unique and hard to replicate. It focuses on developing deep technology under four key areas – future health, food-tech, sustainable solutions, and connected devices.
As a joint initiative, NUS Enterprise@Singapore Science Park nurtures a community of local tech entrepreneurs and start-ups in a strong and vibrant deep-tech ecosystem.
To date, NUS Enterprise has nurtured about 3,000 local start-ups, including successful brands, such as Alchemy Foodtech and KosmodeHealth. Notably, NUS Enterprise has also produced eleven unicorns such as the ever-popular mobile marketplace, Carousell, and local agri-tech company, Singrow.
With its slew of platforms and programmes, NUS Enterprise sees start-ups through from fledgling ideas to commercialisation. For example, it saw Singrow through three years of crossbreeding strawberries, over six generations, before they arrived at the world’s first tropical-resilient Crystal strawberry.
Under the NUS Graduate Research Innovation Programme (GRIP), Singrow spent twelve months developing their business under experienced mentors, with access to labs, research resources and investment funds. As one of the platforms for start-ups to grow and develop, GRIP further equips participants with skills and resources critical to their success.
Vivid, crimson strawberries dot the shelves of Singrow’s indoor vertical farm, defying pre-existing boundaries of crop cultivation in Southeast Asia’s tropical climate. Three years ago, growing sweet, juicy strawberries in Singapore would have been unthinkable. Now, Singrow has gone even further to explore cultivating high-value crops like ginseng and saffron, which typically grow in temperate climates, right here in Singapore. Ultimately, Singrow aims to cultivate crops that previously could only be imported, opening possibilities to local food self-sufficiency.
Through SyncGrow, a proprietary precision farming technique using their remote-control farm system and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) sensor, Singrow enables farming partners to manage environmental factors in the farm and produce unique crop varieties at higher efficiency and yield.
From a single control panel, farmers can control and adjust crops’ growing conditions, such as the exact temperatures, air moisture levels and lighting. This ensures that crops grow in optimal conditions, enhancing their growth and increasing efficiency. The results speak for themselves – Singrow’s strawberries mature in around 2.5 months, almost twice as fast as regular strawberries.
Singrow’s strawberries also use zero pesticides and leave a low carbon footprint, making them more sustainable than importing regular strawberries from traditional farms overseas. As a result, they come with a lower cost that promises to make them more accessible locally.
Singrow’s crop varieties and their SyncGrow farming protocol have been very well-received by their farm partners. In fact, the company recently announced partnerships with franchise farms in Malaysia and Thailand, and has plans to extend their solutions to growers across Asia.
Their technology presents a significant opportunity to transform the US$12 trillion agriculture industry as it can be applied to many staple crops that are facing supply challenges brought about by climate change.
Singapore is particularly vulnerable to supply shocks and disruptions as it imports more than 90 per cent of its food. For greater food resilience, the Government’s ‘30 by 30’ goal aims for Singapore to produce 30 per cent of our nutritional needs by 2030. This goal is not an easy feat, considering that less than 1 per cent of land is set aside for farming. Hence, by investing in technology and R&D, agri-tech companies like Singrow can sow the seeds of self-sufficiency for the future and greatly strengthen Singapore's food resilience by 2030.
“Our journey started with NUS Enterprise, in the heart of Singapore Science Park… We wouldn’t have grown to where we are today without [its] support and the infrastructure,” Dr Bao Shengjie, Singrow’s Founder, CEO and CSO notes.
To date, Singrow has worked on more than 30 crop varieties, including cherry tomato, rice, saffron, grape, and blueberry. These crops form a majority of everyday diets in the region, highlighting Singrow’s commitment to local and global food security.
Unlocking the Potential of Nature's Food
Another company in the business of sustainable innovation for human nutrition and human health is KosmodeHealth. Propelled by an extraordinary mission to unlock the boundless potential of nature, KosmodeHealth has been making waves in Agri-food and biomedical industry.
Their approach of repurposing food processing wastes into functional ingredients to develop functional food for diabetic consumers have been recognised and included in the APEC Policy Partnership on Food Security Work Plan. KosmodeHealth’s work in repurposing food processing wastes into customisable 3D cell culture for biomedical applications is also another area driving future health in Tissue Engineering and Drug Discovery & Development.
With their core plant extraction technology, KosmodeHealth accesses quality plant extracts by extracting protein and fibre from food processing wastes. These food waste products are given a second life when their extracts are re-purposed for human nutrition. Such technology addresses the challenge of feeding a world population of ten billion without having to grow more crops and burden the earth further.
One of their latest innovations is W0W® Noodles, a high protein fibre noodle with barely any carbohydrates, clinically validated to have zero blood sugar response. This creates new possibilities for people with metabolic conditions, such as the growing aging and diabetic populations.
For example, diabetics tend to experience high blood sugar after eating, which can trigger complications if uncontrolled. The issue is further complicated by the typically starch-loaded quality of Asian staple foods, necessitating the prescription of restrictive diets for diabetes management. Such diets deprive patients of the joy of food. However, W0W® Noodles are specially formulated from protein and fibre extracted from spent barley grains, a by-product of beer and malt production. As a staple food with almost zero starch and zero blood sugar response, consumers can meet their nutritional needs without risking a blood sugar spike.
At NUS Enterprise@Singapore Science Park, such efforts in the biotechnology scene pave the way for a more sustainable and optimistic future. As Florence Leong, co-founder of KosmodeHealth, aptly puts it, “having technology alone without the supporting commercialisation ecosystem is akin to having a seed that is not put in a pot of soil, given fertilisers and watered regularly.”
She articulates how critical support by NUS Enterprise@Singapore Science Park is in helping local entrepreneurs to grow. Its ecosystem enables regular networking among occupants, creating a foundation for ideas and fostering collaborations.
KosmodeHealth believes in continually innovating and executing new ideas. In fact, they have started developing more functional foods from other waste streams such as wheat bran, from flour mill. As with the W0W® Noodles, they aim to create food that can meet the nutritional needs of the Asian aging and diabetic populations, empowering their health while bringing them the joy of food.
A Launchpad to the Future
As KosmodeHealth and Singrow can attest, NUS Enterprise@Singapore Science Park helps its entrepreneurs succeed by providing them with the vital infrastructure and resources. They offer an invaluable platform for local entrepreneurs to develop and scale up innovative solutions that promise to improve the lives of future generations.
According to Florence, the experience here is “enabling, empowering and nurturing.”
Being in Singapore Science Park as part of their partnership with CapitaLand has enabled NUS Enterprise to enrich their ecosystem with a spirit of discovery. Its close proximity to the park’s diverse mix of businesses provides unique opportunities for resident entrepreneurs to collaborate and exchange knowledge with other like-minded companies. This not only benefits individual entrepreneurs, but also contributes to the growth of their broader industries in the region.
As NUS Enterprise@Singapore Science Park cultivates its dynamic pool of talented innovators and entrepreneurs, it is poised to produce the ingenuity to solve the technological, health and sustainability concerns of the coming generations.
CapitaLand's Singapore Science Park is definitely where all science happens! The Eyes on the Future article series takes readers on a journey into the future by profiling CapitaLand tenants who are pioneering game-changing technologies and innovations. Join us as we dive into some of the brightest minds in life sciences and innovation.
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