New scheme launched for undergrads to intern at China's Internet giants

Alibaba's Xixi Park, which is also known as Taobao City and is the headquarters of e-commerce platform Alibaba Group. Winners of the annual Singapore Valley Awards will receive three-month internships with Chinese Internet giants such as Alibaba Grou
Alibaba's Xixi Park, which is also known as Taobao City and is the headquarters of e-commerce platform Alibaba Group. Winners of the annual Singapore Valley Awards will receive three-month internships with Chinese Internet giants such as Alibaba Group and Internet portal 2345.com.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Undergraduates here keen to head to China to get some work experience with one of the nation's top technology players such as the Alibaba Group are in luck.

A new internship scheme has been launched to award such opportunities to successful applicants.

In the first of what is intended to be annual Singapore Valley Awards, applicants will pitch business ideas to a panel of 10 judges. Up to nine winners will receive three-month internships with Chinese Internet giants.

These include e-commerce platform Alibaba Group, Internet portal 2345.com, as well as venture capital firms GGV Capital and Matrix Partners.

The winners will receive $2,000 a month during the internship period, starting next year.

The awards are open to Singaporean or Singapore permanent resident full-time third- or fourth-year undergraduates studying in the six autonomous universities here.

The application period closes on Oct 16.

INSPIRATION FOR STUDENTS

We hope that... Singapore students can get inspired and come back to Singapore and create their own successful start-ups.

MR CALVIN CHENG, chairman of Retech Technology and former NMP, on the internships with Chinese tech firms.

The initiative is being seeded by $3.35 million in funding from five entrepreneurs: Mr Pang Shengdong, founder of 2345.com; Mr Eddie Wu, managing director of Alibaba Singapore; Mr James Sheng, general manager of Alibaba Singapore; Mr Wang Yue, founder and chief executive of Shanghai Kingnet Technology; and Mr Calvin Cheng, chairman of Retech Technology and former Nominated Member of Parliament.

It is also supported by local private equity firm Tembusu Partners.

Mrs Lim Hwee Hua, co-chair of the Singapore Valley Awards and executive director of Tembusu Partners, said the awards initiative aims "to broaden the mindset of innovation beyond employment to include entrepreneurship, and beyond the traditional Western models of disruption to include China".

She added: "The internships will provide students with first-hand exposure to and a better understanding of the factors driving China's successful technology companies."

Mr Cheng said in a recent Facebook post that more people should look to China for tech innovation, given that some of the biggest and best tech firms are now Chinese.

He added:"We hope that... Singapore students can get inspired and come back to Singapore and create their own successful start-ups."

For Singapore Management University final-year student Jackson Kwa, 26, such an internship opportunity would allow him to glean valuable insight from leading Chinese tech companies, such as how they scale their firms successfully and how they understand their users.

"This opportunity is also timely as I am planning on how I could take my project forward," said Mr Kwa, referring to an edu-tech start-up he set up. "This award will mean a lot, especially to a student entrepreneur."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 25, 2017, with the headline 'New scheme launched for undergrads to intern at China's Internet giants'. Print Edition | Subscribe