TL;DR – “As a startup, it’s extremely important for us to get out there and reach out to more people in the industry.”
A few months ago, I read that NTUC was rubbing shoulders with startups. Although surprised at first, I think it’s an amazing idea. A key resource for startups (or any business really) is the network that it has access to. That is something that NTUC can definitely help with.
Because NTUC is easily one of the largest networks in Singapore. Startups can tap on domain expertise, seek out relevant stakeholders for feedback, test prototypes or even do B2B or B2C business. These are all possible because not only is the Labour Movement network large, it comprises people from diverse backgrounds.
This network is a veritable treasure trove of connections. And NTUC is giving startups access to this treasure trove through its NTUC U Startup series.
What is the NTUC U Startup Series?
It’s a series of industry roundtable forums that aims to bring together key stakeholders (policy makers, service providers to service buyers) to collaboratively exchange views and ideas to the impending challenges and service gaps that the industry is facing.
The series started with the healthcare sector just a couple of weeks ago in October.
I had the chance to sit in for the inaugural session and found it interesting. The participants of the session included:
- Representatives from various hospitals
- Representatives from some of the healthcare MNCs in Singapore
- Leaders of healthcare-related unions
- Representatives from the government
- Founders of Startups
At the start of the session, there was some tension between the startups hospitals. It seems that the common pain point that the medical technology startups is the limited access to patients. Access to patients will enable the medical technology startups better understand how they can better meet the needs of patients. That, in turn, will allow the startups to innovate better and faster.
The representatives from the hospitals agreed that this is quite an intractable challenge. But as the discussion went on, both sides came up with different ideas how they can get around this challenge. Not only that, the diversity of the group allowed various stakeholders to hear different perspectives. The general feedback was therefore that the discussion was very fruitful and eye-opening.
But it wasn’t just the formal roundtable discussion that was valuable. The participants had ample time to mingle before and after the roundtable discussion. This allowed various participants to connect with one another.
Feedback from the Startup
An example is how Ms Vanessa Keng, co-founder of The Golden Concepts connected with nursing home facility owners, as well as local product design companies. This is particularly valuable for Ms Keng as her business sells products that enable independent living and ageing well.
Ms Keng said this of the event:
“As a start-up, it’s extremely important for us to get out there and reach out to more people in the industry, to connect with new products partners and also service providers so as to broaden our perspective. For us, we made some great connections with nursing home facility owners, as well as local product design companies. It would be great if more events like this could be organised.”
It seems that this network is really powerful. I am actually quite excited to see what NTUC does to allow startups in other industries to benefit from this network!