On Wednesday (6 May), the National University of Singapore (NUS) announced a scheme to allow its graduates to innovate to create a better world once the pandemic situation subsides.
A week prior, paid traineeships and jobs have also been offered to graduates by NUS to allow them to pull through the incoming recession.
In conjunction of the 115th anniversary of NUS’ founding, the university is asking for proposals to support the 115 innovative projects under the Innovation Challenge.
Funding totalling S$50,000 for six months will be offered to those who presented good ideas. Further support will be given by NUS if the project takes off.
Graduates of NUS are encouraged to work together in teams to submit bold ideas that “show the way forward and help shape a better future for humankind” once the pandemic ends.
There are three broad categories under which proposals can be submitted. They are (1) making people better, (2) making society better, and (3) making the world better, all of which encourage ideas on a range of topics.
These topics include (1) improving home-based learning, (2) fostering togetherness, (3) tackling inequality, (4) mitigating the effects of climate change, (5) enhancing food security, and (6) ensuring post-COVID-19 safety.
Priority will be given towards projects that tackle challenges pertinent to Singapore and the world.
All NUS graduates from the classes of 2018, 2019, and 2020 are eligible to participate in the challenge. A team can comprise of three to five individuals.
Every selected project will receive S$500,000 funding for half a year. Also, throughout the project duration, the grant can be used to pay a stipend of up to S$1,200 per project member each month.
According to Tan Eng Chye, the President of NUS, the initiative presents a good opportunity for greater social contributions by the graduates of NUS. This is a chance to for students to translate the COVID-19 crisis into an opportunity, he emphasised.
“In Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two Chinese characters signifying ‘danger’ and ‘opportunity’,” he remarked.
“No doubt our students will be faced with challenging times. Usually by this time, even before they complete their exams, half of our students will have job offers. But our final-year students are not finding it so easy this year. But I hope they also see the opportunities,” he added.
NUS Senior Deputy President and Provost, Professor Ho Teck Hua, commented, “NUS graduates who come up with good ideas will have the opportunity to work with our partners to turn their ideas into reality, and have a lasting impact on society.”
NUS is particularly keen on interdisciplinary approaches that incorporate multiple perspectives, such as those from technology, sports, social work, health, and arts and culture.
“We look forward to receiving high-quality proposals and welcome interdisciplinary teams with graduates from different disciplines, to develop holistic solutions,” noted Professor Ho.
A sum of S$6 million is set aside by NUS to realise the ideas and renowned people have also been brought into the picture to assess the ideas that are recommended.
These individuals include (1) Melissa Kwee, Chief Executive Officer of the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre, (2) Tan Li San, CEO-designate of the National Council of Social Service, and (3) Professor Tommy Koh, Ambassador-at-Large and Rector of Tembusu College at NUS.
Last week, NUS introduced the NUS Resilience and Growth Initiative, which also houses the Innovation Challenge. The Student Solidarity Fund is also included to aid needy students.
Based on the poll carried out by NUS, so far, 1,700 students will receive top-ups to their bursaries, Professor Tan stated.
A total of 200 full-time positions and 800 traineeships have also been announced by NUS for its graduates. For individuals wanting to further studies by taking master’s level courses, they can defer the payment of tuition fees. In addition, the graduating cohort will be offered free courses.
More details regarding the Innovation Challenge can be found here.