NOC Leaves Positive Impact on Tech Ecosystem, Survey Findings Show

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NOC alumni start-ups showcasing opportunities during the NOCfest 2018 — an annual event for students to learn more the programme, mingle with NOC alumni and an internship fair

You may be familiar with names like Carousell, Shopback, Moneysmart, e27, Zopim and 99.co. Did you also know that the founders of many of these start-ups hail from the NUS Overseas Colleges (NOC) programme? We have known for a while now that NOC has created a positive impact in the tech start-up ecosystem, but to what extent is the influence of the programme on an entire nation’s tech start-up scene?

NOC offers experiential entrepreneurship education to university students in their second and third year. Having started in Silicon Valley in 2002, NOC has expanded to more than ten locations globally. The programme has seen more than 2,800 students (up till end 2018) interning in more than 1,300 companies all over the world to gain first-hand experience in start-ups. Forty percent of these companies are in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry.

To assess the impact of the programme and progress of its alumni, the NUS Entrepreneurship Centre (NEC) conducted its first survey on 984 NOC alumni in July last year.

The survey traced the career paths of NOC alumni after they graduated from NUS. The analysis revealed that the overwhelming majority (79%) of alumni had at some point after graduation been involved in the start-up ecosystem in some capacity. This translates to around 1,900 alumni who have founded start-ups, worked in start-ups or worked in organisations that support start-up activities.

The effect of the programme has gone far beyond the nurturing of entrepreneurs, to support the growth of the Singapore tech ecosystem.

  1. NOC alumni have what it takes to be entrepreneurs, with one-third of the alumni surveyed having founded their own companies. Out of this one-third, half of them are currently active as entrepreneurs.
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2. NOC alumni have founded 665 technology-based businesses, of which 335 are still in operation. Of those businesses in operation, 287 are based in Singapore, while the rest are based overseas.

3. NOC alumni are 10 times more likely than other NUS graduates to have gone on to start a business within half a year of graduation.

4. Four in five NOC alumni (about 79%) have been involved in the start-up ecosystem. This means around 1,900 alumni have founded start-ups, worked in start-ups or worked in organisations that support start-up activities.

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5. NOC alumni are ideal employees for start-ups. More than half of them have gone to work in start-ups after graduation and 24% are still employed by start-ups as of July last year.

6. NOC alumni have been involved in the start-up ecosystem as other players besides start-ups. 45% of the alumni have worked in organisations that support start-ups, such as venture capitalist firms, incubators and accelerators, and entrepreneurship-related services for start-ups. 20% of them are still doing so.

7. NOC alumni have the capacity to internationalise, with more than one in 10 NOC alumni being based overseas. As NOC prepares students to be internationally mobile, its alumni are adequately equipped with skills and capabilities to operate fully outside Singapore.

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8. Although NOC alumni make up a small proportion (0.5%) of the total number of fresh graduates from local universities, they have contributed significantly to the start-up ecosystem in Singapore. Of Singapore start-ups that have raised external funding, 8.5% are NOC start-ups. In total, the startups by NOC alumni have raised USD 670 million, which accounts for 3.2% of all funding raised by Singapore-based startups.

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Source: Enterprise SPARKS Issue 22 (Page 13)

On the whole, the survey findings suggest that the NOC programme has been successful in sparking interest among students in entrepreneurship and grooming a strong talent pipeline for the start-up ecosystem in Singapore and overseas.

“One-hun­dred per cent, if there was no NOC experience, there would be no ten­Cube or 99.co — and I dare say a sig­nificant number of the start-ups in Singapore as well.” -Darius Cheung, Founder of 99.co and Co-Founder of TenCube, Angel Investor, and an NOC Silicon Valley Alumnus (The Straits Times)

Full report available for download here.

For more information on the NOC programme, click here.

The Straits Times, 27 July 2019, Home, pB2 via NUS News.

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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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