Our 5Qs series is a chance for you to get to know about folks in the Singapore Global Network community, where we pose 5 questions to exciting individuals to find out more about what they do!
4 October 2021 / By SGN
1. Tell us a bit about yourself – you spent 21 years in Singapore and now shuttle between China and Singapore to grow your business, what first brought you to Singapore?
During my first year in Xiamen University, I was offered a scholarship from Singapore’s Ministry of Education to study in Nanyang Technological University. It was a life changing opportunity as I was able to study in a world class university overseas without any financial burden, and Singapore is such as a beautiful garden city that I have admired for many years. I am extremely grateful to the Singapore government for this opportunity. After 21 years, Singapore has become my second home.
2. Having spent almost an equal number of years in China and Singapore, what advice would you give fellow entrepreneurs looking to navigate both countries?
There are differences in business cultures, and they are often underestimated because many Singaporean entrepreneurs are ethnic Chinese and can speak fluent mandarin. Information from media can also be misleading and biased, and the only way to understand and learn to navigate China is to spend time there. My advice? Experience China as early as possible with an open mind, immerse yourself in the business environment and build relationships there. If you’re a student, take advantage of internship opportunities to gain some China experience which would be very valuable for your career in future.
3. Transfong Ventures was founded here in Singapore – tell us a little bit more!
Transfong Ventures is cross-border venture building platform that helps Singapore / China tech companies’ international development and partnership for technology co-innovation and commercialization. I have been working in the field of technology transfer and commercialization for many years. It’s been my passion and dream to build a profitable venture building platform that can accelerate the process of technology commercialization and create challenging but rewarding career opportunities for “professional technopreneurs”, who specializes on projects focusing on developing new tech ventures. One example is SGmatec, a material technology company founded by overseas technopreneurs and Transfong ventures in Singapore. SGmatec focuses on 100% bio-degradable and water-degradable new material for the F&B industry. We have been working closely with A*STAR and NTU to explore potential commercialization partnership and looking for local entrepreneurs to join us and lead the startup project.
4. Transfong Ventures aims to help Chinese tech companies enter Singapore and vice versa – in your opinion, why should Chinese tech companies consider Singapore as their next stop?
There are 3 main reasons why Chinese tech companies should consider Singapore as their next stop for internationalization. 1) The access to international technology innovations and talent in Singapore. 2) To leverage on the Singapore technology brand for their internationalization journey 3) To tap on the rich international education resource for themselves and the next generation. For example, Transfong Ventures has been working with China Academy of Science and NTU for a master programme for Chinese technopreneurs. The programme is to prepare experienced technopreneurs and business leaders of tech companies with necessary knowledge and training for international technology collaboration and commercialization.
5. Tell us more about your next exciting project?
We are expanding in China and will be partnering Shanghai Junhe Group, the 3rd largest private company in Shanghai and China Academy of Science (CAS) Innovation Cooperation Center. We have recently established a joint venture and establish the operation in Shanghai and Suzhou.
With our existing operation in Xiamen, we have also re-branded our platform in China under a new name: China-Singapore Industry Research Centre (CSIRC). This is an exciting opportunity for our team and our portfolio venture companies because the platform will bring us more industry resources, investment and co-innovation opportunities in China and Singapore
About Dr Li Wei
An alumnus of Nanyang Technological University, Dr Li Wei firstly joined semiconductor industry after graduation for 5 years, and then, spent almost 10 years in A*STAR focusing on industry collaboration, technology commercialization and IP Management. During his time with A*STAR, he found his passion in technology commercialization and in 2018, he founded Transfong Ventures, a cross border venture building platform to help bring tech innovations to market and the internationalization of Singapore and China tech companies.
Connect with Dr Li Wei here.