by Quek Rong Xuan, English Literature and Art History
8 May 2018
The NTC-Boston Entrepreneurship Forum 2018, organised in conjunction with the Master of Science Technopreneurship & Innovation Programme’s (MSc TIP) Overseas Immersion Programme, took place on 8 May 2018 at Cambridge Innovation Center, Boston. With the focus on the topic of “Entrepreneurial Positioning based on Innovation”, the forum concentrates on effective positioning of product or services by differentiating itself from its competitors. Effective positioning helps to propel the success of many entrepreneurial ventures; hence entrepreneurs are encouraged to embrace the latest technology available in the market to create opportunities and platforms for effective positioning.
The 2.5 hours forum included speeches and panels from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore’s (NTU Singapore) faculty members and industry experts. Speakers and moderator includes the following:
Professor Kam Chan Hin, Deputy Provost of NTU Singapore, attended the forum and delivered the opening speech as a representative of the University. As the Deputy Provost (Education), Prof Kam is responsible for the strategic oversight of all aspect of undergraduate and graduate education, ensuring academic quality assurance and governance processes.
Professor Wen Yonggang, Director of Nanyang Technopreneurship Center, opened the forum with a welcome speech to all attendees. Prof Wen is an Associate Professor at School of Computer Science and Engineering (SCSE) at NTU Singapore. He also serves as the Associate Dean (Research) at the College of Engineering.
José J. Estabil, the moderator of the Panel, is the Co-Founder & CEO of Stealth-mode Biotechnology Startup and has over 20 years of experience in translating technology into high growth business. He also serves as the Trustee of the Brown Corporation Governance Committee.
Eric Swanson, Director of Acacia Communications, was the keynote speaker. He serves in a variety of technical and managerial roles in academic, entrepreneurial industrial and non-profit organisations. He has co-authored and contributed to 78 journals articles. Of the five companies he founded or co-founded, Sycamore Networks (1999) and Acacia Communication (2016) were successfully listed on the Nasdaq. Through his speech, Swanson shared his personal experience related to entrepreneurship. He highlighted the importance of perseverance when faced with uncertainties. He reminded the attendees that entrepreneur should dare to innovate, be bold in action, and persevere in face of failure. He quoted Darwin’s evolution theory, where only the most adaptable species can survive in life evolution. He reminded the attendee not to use wealth or profit as an indicator of success, but instead, the influence they have on society through their innovation.
Hsi Xiaolu, is a Senior Dual Speciality Psychologist in Mental Health and Counselling Services at MIT. She is also a clinical supervisor at the Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School. She has been consultant in mental health issues in both higher education and corporates. Her area of expertise includes consulting and training in career development. In the panel, she introduced the biopsychosocial model, a model in psychiatry. She uses the model to remind entrepreneurs to self-reflect as a fledging entrepreneur to attain optimal positioning through understanding one’s goal. Self-awareness is the key to making changes, taking control by making decision based on the current situation with the help of past influence.
Marie-José Montpetit is a consultant with Triangle Video and a world-renowned Internet researcher and innovator. She is also an advisor to many Boston based start-up companies and large organizations in the area of multimedia enhancements and virtual reality. During the forum, Professor Montpetit advocates that innovation needs context. It is important that the context of innovation includes scope and applicability as well as its importance. With in-depth understanding on the required context, it helps to establish a better understanding on what innovation meant and its positive influence.
Eugene A. Fitzgerald is the Merton C. Flemings-SMA Professor of Materials Engineering at MIT and the Lead Principal Investigator of the Low Energy Electronic Systems (LEES) center of the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART). He founded and co-founded seven new enterprises as well as creating over 100 world-wide patents and more than 400 publications. At the panel, Fitzgerald gave an overview of the innovation process, showing how innovation and innovators function. By explaining the various components such as research, development and productization, Fitzgerald explained that innovation is not a linear process but a highly iterative process where one cycle is repeated through various factors such as, Technology, Market, and Implementation, until the right components come together.
Stanley P. Sakai is the Managing Principal of EMS Capital with more than 30 years of experience in technology, investment in the Pacific Rim. He is the co-founder of two technology companies – BRAC Net and EN Technologies. Currently, Mr. Sakai holds the position of co-founder, investor and US Advisor of TUS Green Innovation Fund. Mr. Sakai shared with the panel from an investor’s perspective on ways to discover potential technology projects and investment opportunities in clean technology, as well as the key elements in gaining investor’s interest and trust.
Attendees of the forum included the students from NTC’s MSc TIP, undergraduates exchange students from Nanyang Technological University at MIT, Singapore students studying for doctoral degrees in the United States, as well as local entrepreneurs from Boston. With the speakers’ vast experience and knowledge, the NTC-Boston Entrepreneurship Forum, provided a platform for the exchange of views and helped attendees develop a sound understanding and insights on effective entrepreneurial positioning based on innovation.