Building Innovative and Enterprising Industry-Academic Partnerships

18 Aug 2021

Entrepreneurs, academics and industry experts who convened at the Singapore University of Technology and Design’s (SUTD) FIRST Industry Workshop 2021, collectively recognised that the pandemic had pushed the frontiers of entrepreneurship to its limits, but also propelled us to create new realities that were previously unthinkable and impossible.
The annual flagship event, which took place virtually on 28 July 2021, was aimed at fostering collaborative research through the development and deepening of industry-academia ties. More than 1,000 registrants from 32 countries joined in to hear industry and academic experts share insights into successful entrepreneurship and innovation arising from industry-university collaborations.
“The pandemic has reset the world’s economy and this is the best time to start a new business. When academia and the industry work closely to fuse their complementary skills, knowledge and expertise, it will bring about a multiplier effect at a speed, scale and scope unlike anything that we have experienced before,” said Professor Yeo Kiat Seng, Associate Provost for Research and International Relations at SUTD, during the opening address at the workshop.

The FIRST Industry Workshop was opened by Prof Yeo Kiat Seng (Associate Provost for Research and International Relations, SUTD) and featured three keynote speakers, Mr Chaney Ho (Co-founder & Executive Director of Board of Advantech Co., Ltd.), Dr David Ong (Senior Partner, Naef Group Spiele AG and Chairman of SMC) and Assistant Prof Mohan Rajesh Elara (Engineering Product Development, SUTD).

Alongside Assistant Professor Mohan Rajesh Elara from SUTD’s Engineering Product Development pillar who shared his journey as both an academic researcher and entrepreneur, two other impactful keynote addresses were delivered by industry experts. Mr Chaney Ho, Co-founder & Executive Director of Board of Advantech Co., Ltd. and Advisor for the Singapore Mentorship Committee (SMC), spoke about ‘Building Supply Chain Management Resilience in the De-Globalisation Age’ while Dr David Ong, Senior Partner, Naef Group Spiele AG and Chairman of the Singapore Mentorship Committee (SMC) shared his insights on ‘Reimagining Unicorns of the Future’. 

Forum panel discussion on the topic ‘University-Industry Collaboration: Entrepreneurship and Innovation’.
Attendees were also treated to a thought-provoking forum panel discussion among industry experts on the topic ‘University-Industry Collaboration: Entrepreneurship and Innovation’.
Ms Celestine Khoo (Senior Director, Venture, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, SUTD), Mr Eugene Wee (Director, Enterprise Division, A*STAR), Mr Nicholas Ma (President of Huawei, Asia Pacific Enterprise Business Group), Mr Jeremy Sim (First Prototyper, Audacity & Creative Director, Mistletoe) and Ms Hemalatha Annamalai (Founder, Uni Connect and Investor & Mentor in Disruptive Startups) provided inspiring and diverse perspectives on possible collaboration frameworks and modalities relating to the topic, which included a discussion on cultivating a resilient talent pipeline that will power the future economy. The event wrapped up with showcases on our industry partners and SUTD’s research capabilities.

The next FIRST Industry Workshop has been scheduled for 27 July 2022. For updates and recordings from the previous event, please log on to