New NTUC initiative to help start-ups find business network

Local start-ups can now look to an even larger network to reach out to businesses and workers.

U Startup, which aims to provide the start-up community with a network of talent, industry leaders and potential partners, was officially launched yesterday by the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC).

The initiative, introduced last year, has already engaged about 1,000 start-up founders and partners over the past year to get a better understanding of the start-up landscape.

Mr Vivek Kumar, NTUC's assistant director-general and director of U Startup, said: "NTUC's U Startup wants to help start-up founders connect to business networks, expert advice and talent.

"We also seek to help working professionals within start-ups grow and develop professionally alongside the start-ups that they are working for."

Start-ups will be able to participate in workshops to provide them with insight on expanding their businesses and allow seasoned players in the respective industries to share their experiences and advice.

U Startup will also work with NTUC's Employment and Employability Institute and U PME Centre to match suitable talent with growing start-ups according to their needs.

Mr Erik Cheong, co-founder and chief operating officer of start-up Park N Parcel - which enlists residential and commercial entities, such as cafes, as common collection points for people to pick up their parcels - believes that U Startup will help his business in talent acquisition and meeting new partners.

"NTUC has a pool of talent under U Associate, its initiative with a network of professional guilds and communities," he said.

"We are looking for developers to upgrade our platforms as well as marketing executives, so we provide job scopes to U Startup, which, in turn, connects us to suitable candidates."

Career fairs will also be developed to match Singaporeans with appropriate jobs in local start-ups.

The initiative will engage banks, investors and financial associations, which will provide fund matching, financial workshops and legal clinics to help start-ups explore their different funding options.

NTUC secretary-general Chan Chun Sing highlighted the need for start-ups to strengthen their links with businesses and workers.

"We hope to increase the connectivity not just between the employer and the employee but also between employers, to see how they can synergise their ideas," he said.

Local start-ups can contact NTUC to get involved in the initiative.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 31, 2017, with the headline 'New NTUC initiative to help start-ups find business network'. Print Edition | Subscribe