An incubator is defined as a company that promotes entrepreneurship by nurturing startups through the provision of facilities, mentorship and sometimes investments. Budding Innovations, is an incubator that does that and so much more. Budding Innovations’ core focus is on technology, especially life science, healthcare, advanced material science and CleanTech. Besides incubation, Budding Innovation carries out product development execution throughout the entire product lifecycle.
I had a wonderful chat with Dr. Bert Grobben, CEO of Budding Innovations, alongside Dr. Reshmi Rajendran, Director of Life Science and Healthcare to find out more about Budding Innovations, as well as their insights on the startup scene in Singapore.
How is Budding Innovations Different?
When asked to describe Budding Innovations, Dr. Bert Grobben used a tagline “Your preferred solutions partner”, while Dr. Rajendran referred to Budding Innovations as an “end-to-end commercialization partner”. Budding Innovations provides a portfolio of opportunities through relationships, ranging from professors at universities to big multi-national companies. Incubatees can look forward to access to more ideas, technologies, capabilities and better services, increasing their work efficiency many fold as compared to setting up this ecosystem of connections alone. Furthermore, Dr. Grobben and his team participate in discussions with incubatees and take part in the execution process of commercialization, seeking the best possible solutions available.
The incubation efforts of Budding Innovations are already successful with its first incubatee already winning prizes ( “Hottest Opportunity” at InnovFest Unbound Event, 17-18 May, 2016, “Biggest Impact Potential”, 3-4 October, 2016)
Besides incubation, other activities of Budding Innovations include fund-raising for subsidiary start-ups, technology scouting and product execution for multinational clients, training young Singaporean talent via internships. In addition, Budding Innovations is now entering into partnerships with business schools and have signed agreements to work hand in hand with the Singapore ecosystem to nurture entrepreneurship.
Criteria for accepting incubatees
Some of the criteria that is taken into account before Budding Innovations accepts incubatees are :
Potential of the incubatee’s technology in the market and the additional capabilities Dr. Grobben and his team can supplement to make the final product commercially successful
Budding Innovations is able to imagine how the investor pitch deck of the incubatee will look like and be able to conceptualize answers to questions such as:
What is the potential of the technology and what is needed to make it work?
How do you translate the technology to its actual application?
What is the scalability?
Passion of the incubatee for their work and has done the due diligence of looking at the commercial landscape
Open mindset and willingness to explore different options
Starting An Incubator In Singapore
Dr. Grobben explained the reasons for starting Budding Innovations in Singapore, stating the strong intent from the Singapore government on the ecosystem to drive innovation in a very targeted way. The intentionality to create things with the purpose of commercialization enhances productivity. Moreover, Singapore is unique in bringing multi-national companies into the ecosystem and investing in fundamental research that leads to commercialization.
It’s not all a walk in the park as the startup ecosystem in Singapore is not fully mature. However, Dr. Grobben already has plans for Budding Innovations in the future. He hopes to give more young and aspiring entrepreneurs opportunities to do more entrepreneur-type internships and this will help grow a bigger entrepreneur base in Singapore. In addition to working with MBA programmes by giving guest lectures and by giving MBA students the opportunity to work on actual startup projects rather than theoretical case studies, it allows for a hands-on experience and accountability to drive a project forward. Since the interview, Budding Innovations has also partnered with SIM to be a partner in the Entrepreneur Centre opening early 2017.
Tips / Words of advice
“…Believe in yourself. Don’t underestimate your own potential and be stupid enough to believe you know all the answers…Entrepreneur life is high risk, with a million and one things that can go wrong but the biggest success driver is understanding that, every issue is an opportunity to go and create something. It doesn’t matter what sort of solutions they are…Jump off the cliff and figure the answer on the way down…You can make things happen if you don’t give up. Take up every opportunity as a chance to learn and be flexible. Things might not happen the way you thought they would but if you are happy to change, change direction, try something different, then you will always find an answer to your problem…Surround yourself with capable people. Don’t go into things on your own. Be smart to ask for help.” – Dr. Bert Grobben
“…Have a realistic evaluation about yourself. Fully understand what an entrepreneur does before diving head first into it…Listen to people who criticize because they will give you insights into what directions you should take your business into.” – Dr. Reshmi Rajendran