NRF awards S$4m to 16 Proof-of-Concept projects

Hot off the press – National Research Foundation (NRF) announces that it has awarded a total of S$4 million in Proof-of-Concept (POC) grants to 16 projects from the institutes of higher learning.

  • Total of 91 proposals received from local universities, polytechnics and UniSIM; 27 (29.6% of submitted proposals) were shortlisted for further review, out of which 16 (59.3% of shortlisted projects) received the award
  • 16 projects receive up to S$250,000 each in this second POC grant call
    • 2 projects came from the polytechnics
    • 9 were in engineering, 4 in infocomm and 3 in life sciences

Group photo of winners of NRF's 2nd POC grant call

According to the press release, a total of S$75 million has been set aside for NRF’s Proof-of-Concept Scheme.  Of the S$75 million, one-third (S$25 million) is being managed by SPRING Singapore as part of its Technology Enterprise Commercialisation Scheme (TECS).  NRF differentiates its POC awards from that of SPRING’s by focusing on supporting translational research towards commercialisation instead of innovation by small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs).  If you’re still confused, a quick visit to my previous post on SPRING’s TECS projects should give you a better overall picture.

NRF’s been on quite a roll recently, with new initiatives such as its Early Stage Venture Fund, University Innovation Fund and the upcoming Technology Incubation Scheme (TIS).  Kudos goes to the NRF team for being the guardian angel of the R&D and entrepreneurial ecosystem in Singapore!  While I’ve always felt that NRF’s efforts in promoting translational research wasn’t necessarily bang-for-the-buck, given the many instances I’ve come across where core technology was licensed from universities sans its inventors (who much preferred to stay in their research labs), NRF’s noble intentions are still worth lauding.  I’m personally a lot more psyched about TIS.  The immense leverage that the government is offering incubators means that Singapore may have a good chance at attracting smarter money to provide proper mentorship and investment, while possessing the necessary relationships and go-to-market linkages to help our start-ups scale – or instead of subsisting forever as ‘zombified start-ups’, fail – rapidly.

Quoteworthy

Dr Francis Yeoh, Chief Executive Officer of NRF, said: “The NRF has put in place a range of programmes and initiatives to advance research, innovation and enterprise in our institutes of higher learning. Besides POC, NRF has recently provided S$22 million to the 3 universities to encourage academic entrepreneurship2 and another S$25 million to fund translational research & development in the 5 polytechnics. We expect that the POC scheme will encourage many more researchers to take the step of developing their ideas beyond invention into useful applications for the market.”

Dr Lerwen Liu, a member of NRF’s POC evaluation panel said: “It was very encouraging to see a number of very interesting proposals this round. The POC scheme provides a great incentive to encourage academics to pursue industry application of their research. As for the private sector, POC provides a valuable bridge and reduce risk for investors. I am particularly pleased to see some of the proposals prepared by young scientists.”

Ms Eunice Goh Shing Mei, PhD student of the School of Electrical & Electronics Engineering at NTU, the Principal Investigator of the awarded project on “Low Cost High Performance Anti Reflective Coating based on Sinanocrystals Embedded in SiO2 Film”, said: “I feel honoured to be awarded this opportunity to further develop my project and hopefully, this shall be a stepping stone for me to embark on the path to discovering technology commercialisation.”

Press Release

Check out the official press release below for more details of the POC commercialisation projects.

About James Chan

James Chan is an entrepreneur, investor, geek, photographer and husband/father based out of Singapore. Apart from frequent travels to Vietnam, Myanmar and Indonesia for work, James can also be found online via his trusty 15" Retina MacBook Pro or iPhone 6+.