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SUTD Launches $3.2 Million Baby Shark Micro-innovation Fund for Its Students

23 Jan 2024

$6,000. That's what every student team in the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) stands to receive as part of a new initiative aimed at nurturing innovation.
 
Affectionately called the "Baby Shark Fund", the micro-innovation1 programme aims to bolster the university’s strong commitment to student-led innovation, design-thinking and risk-taking. It will complement the existing funding options that are already available to students who wish to pursue more advanced innovation projects which culminate in the formation of start-up companies. The programme, which got its name from the award-winning reality television series "Shark Tank", will encourage students to incubate new ideas, innovate through design and have the courage to venture into uncharted grounds beyond the classroom.
 
The ideology behind the Baby Shark Fund is to upend the way innovation has traditionally been viewed: grandiose, complex and unattainable.
 
SUTD President Chong Tow Chong explained: "Practically everyone is a micro-innovator. If you have ever created a better way of organising digital files in your office, you have already succeeded in micro-innovation. With the new Baby Shark Fund, we hope to provide every student with the opportunity to engage in bottom-up innovation by experimenting continuously. This will hopefully spur them to embark on a lifelong innovation journey of continuous experimentation and risk-taking, and in so doing, champion and lead innovation for society in years to come."
 
To qualify for the funds, SUTD students in either the undergraduate or masters programmes must form teams of at least two members and present their ideas and projects to a panel comprising faculty as well as industry. The projects will be evaluated based on the level of innovation and their potential to impact the world. There will be multiple submission windows throughout the year for students to submit their applications, ensuring that teams are given ample opportunities to seek funding for their projects.
 
The Baby Shark Fund will be administered by the SUTD Venture, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Office, which has been facilitating entrepreneurial efforts within the university. Project mentors will be appointed to each team, which will also receive venture support and resources as they progress in their innovation journey.
 
Underlying the micro-innovation programme, will be a roadmap for SUTD students to gain innovation tools and knowledge from every aspect of their time in the university – known as the SUTD Innovation Journey. Innovation is embedded in every part of SUTD DNA, but with SUTD Innovation Journey, students can elect to pursue innovation inside and outside their classes, exchange programmes, internships, student life activities and beyond. Innovation will not just be taught, it will be experienced throughout the innovation journey. Students choose where they want to be on the roadmap and how far they want to go in the innovation journey. Every student will have his or her unique journey.
 
"By encouraging all our students to pursue micro-innovation projects, we hope to instil greater confidence in them to challenge the status quo and bring their ideas into the real world. We train our students to be agile and resilient by ensuring that they never give up even if they encounter failure because the road to success is often fraught with challenges," said Prof Chong.
 
SUTD's Student Government Vice President, Mr Xie Jiacheng, is delighted with the news: "In our courses, we sometimes strike gold with our project ideas, and see potential as a real business. The Baby Shark Fund would enable us to earnestly pursue the critical first few months of development without fear of failure."
 
Another student who is looking forward to the launch of the Baby Shark Fund is Term 5 student Mr Dylan Raharja, who is pursuing a degree in Computer Science. He said: "I like how there are options for me to pitch innovative ideas based on the industry and domain of my interests – without having to tie them to any existing curriculum."

1 Micro-innovations are small but mighty changes which can stimulate profound change.