Silicon Valley stint for S'pore undergrads

Business savvy and an eye for spotting trends can be learned. And the National University of Singapore is taking steps to ensure that a lucky handful of its undergrads get the chance to do that--from the masters.

SINGAPORE--Business savvy and an eye for spotting trends can be learned. And the National University of Singapore is taking steps to ensure that a lucky handful of its undergrads get the chance to do that--from the masters.

Through its NUS Enterprise office, which is aimed at getting the institution to take on an entrepreneurial role, the University has set up an office at Silicon Valley to arrange for a year of entrepreneurship courses at Stanford University, as well as internship places with technology start-ups for students who display entrepreneurial drive.

An initial batch of 10 such students will be sent to the Valley in the coming January, with the number bumped up to over 100 by 2003. They will be funded by scholarships from the NUS, the Economic Development Board and private companies.

The NUS hopes to set up similar programs in Boston and Shanghai as well.

Selected candidates will be placed in an accelerated five-year bachelors and masters program, and will leave for the US in their third year.

"They are going to be where the action is," observed vice-chancellor Shih Choon Fong, in his state-of-the-university address. "We hope they will return with a different mindset and help drive the entrepreneurial spirit among local students, and create a technopreneurial hub in NUS."

The order gets even taller.

"I'm optimistic that in 10 years, NUS will have planted the seeds for 10 Creative Technologies," said the vice-chancellor.

"It is our hope that one of them will grow to the size and reach of Singapore Airlines," The Straits Times reported Shih as saying.

To help them fulfill these expectations, the students will have more than their year-long stint in the US to rely on. NUS Enterprise also plans to get the likes of Creative's Sim Wong Hoo, a polytechnic diploma holder, to teach technopreneurship courses locally.

Warp speed ahead.

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