Ecosystem Builder Feature — Ning From PIER71

  1. Who are you and what do you do?

I am Ning, the programme manager for PIER71. That is short for Port Innovation Ecosystem Reimagined at BLOCK71. As the name suggests, it’s something to do with the maritime industry. What PIER71 wants to do is to create a vibrant maritime innovation ecosystem for Singapore. Being a programme manager, what I do is mainly manage the different kind of programmes and initiatives that come under PIER71. Currently, we’ve just concluded the call for submissions for the Smart Port Challenge this year and we’re in the midst of reviewing the applications and we’ll be revealing the top 30 very soon. Do stay in touch with us for all kinds of programmes and initiatives that we have to offer in the next couple of months!

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Ning From PIER71 at BLOCK71 Singapore

2. What are the main aspects of your role?

The mandate for PIER71 is to increase the vibrancy of the maritime innovation ecosystem. My role is to help bring together the various stakeholders into PIER71. The stakeholders we’re looking at are: entrepreneurs, start-ups, investors, corporates that should be, if not already, excited about the various kinds of innovations that exist within maritime. All the events and programmes we do is a platform for people to come together for them to educate one another or get excited about all the technologies that happen all around and can be adapted by the corporates in the maritime industry.

3. What are some of the skills you need as a programme manager?

It’s not really a skill, but it’s more of having the kind of curiosity in you. The maritime industry is very new to me, with my background primarily in life sciences. I think what helps me pull through is having the curiosity to learn more about the maritime industry, to be excited about different kinds of things that happen, be it technology-wise, be it the new happenings, even being excited around the people that are within the industry. What I have experienced in the past 6 months is that everyone that walks through the doors to my events, they teach me a lot of things every day. That’s something I feel has helped me to grow and to do whatever I am doing for PIER71.

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A visit to PSA Living Lab Gallery

4. What is work-life balance to you?

Me being a digital native, I think it’s a bit hard to delineate work and life. Right now we work on our phones, we work on our laptops, we work on WhatsApp. In fact, I’m working with my intern over WhatsApp right now. It’s a bit hard to say there’s a distinctive boundary between work and life. What I try to do whenever I’m working is to make sure you’re there 100%. When you’re having fun, make sure you’re having fun 100%. Having said that, the way we work nowadays, it makes work more fun as well because there are so many things you inject into your work so I would say there isn’t a strong line between work and life. At the end of the day as long as you don’t feel burnt out, I think it’s fine.

5. What is it like trying to build a community from scratch?

I’m not quite sure if we’re really building a community from scratch. It’s true that there isn’t a very strong maritime innovation ecosystem but it doesn’t mean that there aren’t any communities out there. Our role is to identify where they are and pull them together. For example, even within our own NUS backyards, we have a very huge ecosystem of maritime experts comprising of your PIs and people with domain experts. There’s also a huge community of maritime corporates out there. There are also people interested in the maritime industry it just depends on how far and how deep we look. I think we’re very privileged, being in NUS Enterprise. We have our network of communities, we’re always leveraging BLOCK71 or our BLOCK71 gateways in San Francisco, Jakarta, and everywhere. That helps us in identifying the kind of communities that we want to, to get our voices out there and to let people know that there is a PIER71 that exists.

6. How can we help?

PIER71 is looking for people who are interested to help accelerate technology adoption within the maritime industry. If you think you have a technology or product to offer where you can reimagine its application for the maritime industry, do feel free to join us, we are very happy to have you on board. You can find out more about our programmes and initiatives and events we have at

Watch the full video interview with Ning here:

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NUS Enterprise nurtures entrepreneurial talents with global mindsets, while advancing innovation and entrepreneurship at Asia’s leading university.

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