NUS expands entrepreneurial partnerships between Singapore and China

BLOCK71 Suzhou to cultivate a vibrant and sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystem and build bridges for business development in China and beyond 

Singapore, 23 November 2017 – The National University of Singapore (NUS) is set to play a bigger role in promoting technology innovation, incubation and commercialisation between Singapore and China. Leveraging the success of NUS (Suzhou) Research Institute (NUSRI), the University’s first overseas research institute, NUS plans to expand its presence in Suzhou city, Jiangsu province and China, and intensify its efforts to help Singapore companies explore potential business opportunities in China. 

To further promote innovation and entrepreneurship development in Singapore and China, NUSRI and NUS Enterprise, the entrepreneurial arm of NUS, will be spearheading the BLOCK71 concept in China.
Managed by NUS Enterprise, BLOCK71 Suzhou will operate in two locations, made possible by partnership with NUSRI and Ascendas-Singbridge respectively.
This new initiative provides support for Singapore entrepreneurs and technology start-up companies that are looking to explore potential business opportunities in China. It will also help these entrepreneurs and start-ups to access new markets, while leveraging the three partners’ global networks and resources.
Singapore Minister for Finance cum Singapore-Jiangsu Cooperation Council (SJCC) Co-Chairman, Mr Heng Swee Keat, announced the new initiative this morning at the 11th SJCC meeting in Suzhou. Following this meeting, Mr Heng launched BLOCK71 Suzhou at an event at Ascendas iHub and met with several Singapore and China technology start-ups based there.
”BLOCK71 Suzhou builds upon the strong ties between Singapore’s and Jiangsu’s companies and institutions,” said Mr Heng Swee Keat. “I hope BLOCK71 Suzhou will catalyse many breakthroughs and new partnerships that will benefit our people.”
Professor Tan Eng Chye, NUS Deputy President (Academic Affairs) and Provost, said, “NUSRI demonstrates a win-win partnership between Singapore and China. Over the last seven years, NUSRI has served as gateway for NUS to partner institutions in China to boost the research, education and entrepreneurship activities that the university has been actively spearheading. The intellectual property, expertise and experience gained through the work and activities at NUSRI have enabled NUS to create value and impact for Singapore, for instance, in the form of technology innovation, incubation and commercialisation. At the same time, we help contribute towards China’s innovation and economic growth.”
“Today, we are pleased to expand and deepen NUS’ engagements and activities in Suzhou through the establishment of BLOCK71 Suzhou, which will spur business opportunities between companies in Singapore and China. BLOCK71 Suzhou will help to drive active interactions between research and start-up communities in both Singapore and Suzhou, enabling them to reach international markets and scale more efficiently,” Prof Tan added.

BLOCK71 Suzhou
Located within the Suzhou Industrial Park, BLOCK71 Suzhou consists of two facilities situated within a 10-minute drive from each other. The first location, BLOCK71 Suzhou壹 in partnership with NUSRI, supports deep tech start-ups as well as encourages innovation and commercialisation efforts in technology fields such as artificial intelligence, biomedical sciences, cloud computing, robotics and smart devices.
“We are very excited to bring the BLOCK71 concept to China. NUS has built up a strong relationship with SIPAC and the local tech community. Leveraging the success we have achieved at NUSRI, we are happy to extend the BLOCK71 concept to the incubation space within NUSRI. Over the last four years, some 50 companies have been incubated in this space, and there are already several NUS technology spin-off companies commercialising NUS Innovations,” said Dr Lily Chan, CEO of NUS Enterprise.  
The second location, BLOCK71 Suzhou贰 in partnership with NUSRI and Ascendas-Singbridge, extends and expands the community with new space to continue the vibrancy of the ecosystem. Located at Ascendas iHub Suzhou, BLOCK71 Suzhou贰 is expected to be ready in the second quarter of 2018.
NUS Enterprise, NUSRI and Ascendas-Singbridge will also collaborate to organise start-up activities and events, as well as bring together relevant partners, such as investors, government agencies, corporates and industry. In addition, companies and individuals based at BLOCK71 Suzhou can benefit from incubation support, access to innovative technologies and research from NUSRI and partnering Chinese research institutes, technology commercialisation support as well as introduction to global networks and resources.
“BLOCK71 Suzhou is unique as it enables companies to tap on the research and technology expertise at NUSRI. Together with our partners, we hope to accelerate the growth of the start-up community in Suzhou and in China, and open doors for Singapore start-ups and companies to tap into China’s fast-growing economy,” Dr Lily Chan, CEO of NUS Enterprise added.
“We are honored to have BLOCK71 located in Ascendas iHub Suzhou. NUS and ASB started this partnership in Singapore, and we are now extending this to Suzhou, China. Together, we aim to cultivate and foster a vibrant sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystem between Singapore and Suzhou.” Aylwin Tan, Ascendas-Singbridge’s Chief Customer Solutions Officer, said.

“Ascendas-Singbridge will contribute our knowledge in creating innovative physical products and software services to offer inspirations to innovation-oriented companies. Innovation is global, and as what we have done in Singapore, we will also leverage our global customer base to connect to this community in BLOCK71 Suzhou to lay a new foundation to attract and create new activities and industries, so as to contribute to Suzhou Industrial Park’s continued push towards a new science and tech-based future,” he added.

See Annex 1 for more information about NUSRI and Annex 2 for more information on BLOCK71.

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About National University of Singapore (NUS)
A leading global university centred in Asia, the National University of Singapore (NUS) is Singapore’s flagship university, which offers a global approach to education and research, with a focus on Asian perspectives and expertise.
NUS has 17 faculties and schools across three campuses. Its transformative education includes a broad-based curriculum underscored by multidisciplinary courses and cross-faculty enrichment. Over 38,000 students from 100 countries enrich the community with their diverse social and cultural perspectives. NUS also strives to create a supportive and innovative environment to promote creative enterprise within its community.  
NUS takes an integrated and multidisciplinary approach to research, working with partners from industry, government and academia, to address crucial and complex issues relevant to Asia and the world. Researchers in NUS’ Schools and Faculties, 30 university-level research institutes and centres, and Research Centres of Excellence cover a wide range of themes including: energy, environmental and urban sustainability; treatment and prevention of diseases common among Asians; active ageing; advanced materials; risk management and resilience of financial systems. The University’s latest research focus is to use data science, operations research and cybersecurity to support Singapore's Smart Nation initiative.
For more information on NUS, please visit

About NUS Enterprise
NUS Enterprise plays a pivotal role in advancing innovation and entrepreneurship at NUS and beyond. It actively promotes entrepreneurship and cultivates global mind-sets and talents through the synergies of experiential entrepreneurial education, active industry partnerships for technology and commercialisation, holistic entrepreneurship support and catalytic entrepreneurship outreach. Its initiatives and global connections support a range of entrepreneurial journeys and foster ecosystem building in new markets. As Asia’s Thought Leader for Innovation & Enterprise, it augments and complements the University’s academic programmes and acts as a unique bridge to industry well beyond Singapore’s shores.
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About NUS (Suzhou) Research Institute
The National University of Singapore (NUS) set up National University of Singapore (Suzhou) Research Institute (NUSRI) in the Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP). NUSRI is the first overseas research institute established by NUS. Coincidentally NUSRI is also the first research institute established in SIP by a top foreign university and registered as an independent non-profit legal entity under Suzhou Industrial Park Administration Committee (SIPAC).
Leveraging NUS’ diverse expertise, world-class scientific research resources and strong culture of innovation, NUSRI aims to focus on dedicated research, training and technology commercialisation to contribute towards social transformation as well as sustainable economic, technological and cultural development in SIP and Suzhou city as well as the wider Jiangsu province.
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About Ascendas-Singbridge Group
Ascendas-Singbridge Group is Asia’s leading sustainable urban and business space solutions provider with Assets under Management exceeding S$20 billion. Jointly owned by Temasek Holdings and JTC Corporation through a 51:49 partnership, the Group undertakes urbanisation projects spanning townships, mixed-use developments and business/industrial parks. Headquartered in Singapore, Ascendas-Singbridge has projects in 28 cities across 9 countries in Asia, including Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Singapore and South Korea. Ascendas-Singbridge has a substantial interest in and also manages three Singapore-listed funds under its subsidiary Ascendas, namely Ascendas Reit, Ascendas India Trust and Ascendas Hospitality Trust. Besides these listed funds, it also manages a series of private real estate funds, which hold commercial and industrial assets across the region.
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Annex 1 - NUS (Suzhou) Research Institute in Suzhou
Established on 15 November 2010, NUS (Suzhou) Research Institute in Suzhou (NUSRI) is a collaborative project between NUS and SIPAC. NUSRI officially launched its building, which is located within SIP higher education town, in May 2013. In the last seven years, NUSRI has achieved significant progress in R&D innovation, entrepreneurial development and education.
As a leading innovative research institute in China, NUSRI focuses on cutting-edge research in six key areas: advance microelectronics, biomedical science and engineering, functional materials and energy, environmental interface engineering, food science and technology, as well as software development. In 2014, NUSRI expanded its research and education initiatives to cover public administration, commerce, finance, real estate, economics and urbanisation. This was achieved through the establishment of NUS Business School China Business Centre, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy Suzhou Centre and Institute of Real Estate Studies Global Logistics Properties Research Centre, all hosted at NUSRI. To date, the institute has undertaken 77 research projects and researchers at NUSRI have published 320 scientific papers and technical reports in international peer-reviewed journals. A total of 67 patents based on research conducted at NUSRI were filed. 
NUSRI also plays an active role in promoting educational exchange and cooperation between students and institutions in Singapore and China. Over 1,000 students from NUS and other Singapore and international educational institutions have participated in NUSRI’s Immersion Programme in Suzhou. The institute has also trained over 12,000 Chinese government officials and business managers through its executive training programmes.
NUSRI now serves a critical base and launch pad for NUS’ initiatives in China.
For more information on NUSRI, visit:

Annex 2 – About BLOCK71
BLOCK71 is an initiative by NUS Enterprise in collaborative and strategic partnerships with established corporates and government agencies. It is an ecosystem builder and global connector which catalyses and aggregates the start-up community, as well as spearheads new initiatives and provides mentorship and growth opportunities in local and global markets.
In every instance and location, BLOCK71 embodies the spirit of entrepreneurship, collaboration and partnership by optimising the unique experience of each entity, the research capabilities and technologies of the university, and  the investment and business acumen of the partners, to support entreprenuerial journeys within the local geography and beyond.
BLOCK71 locations provide a physical locus for expanding start-ups to access new markets while leveraging NUS Enterprise’s global network of resources and contacts. Entrepreneurs in the BLOCK71 family also enjoy comprehensive support services from NUS Enterprise such as dedicated mentoring support, access to funding, exclusive networking opportunities that go beyond physical space, and assistance to integrate into the local ecosystems seamlessly.  There are currently four BLOCK71 locations – Singapore, San Francisco (U.S.), Jakarta and now Suzhou, China.
BLOCK71 takes its name from its birthplace – the Block 71 building within the Ayer Rajah industrial estate in Singapore. It is there that NUS Enterprise, along with Singtel Innov8 and the then Media Development Authority of Singapore, averted the fate of a disused building through championing the aggregation and growth of the local technology start-up community. In continuing the support of entrepreneurial journeys beyond Singapore, it is a fitting reminder of its heritage.
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