Gerontology graduate's winning 'fun' idea to produce and sell soft food for the elderly

Mr Michael Lim's idea was to build a platform to address the rising need for soft food for an ageing population.
Mr Michael Lim's idea was to build a platform to address the rising need for soft food for an ageing population.PHOTO: ENTERPRISE SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE - In 2020, with the encouragement from Dr Carol Ma, head of Gerontology at the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS), Mr Michael Lim, 57, an SUSS alumnus, participated in the Venture Builder Programme, an initiative to groom aspiring entrepreneurs in Singapore.

Mr Lim's idea was to build a platform to address the rising need for soft food for an ageing population.

"We went into this Venture Builder Programme with a "fun" idea. Can we create, make and deliver a local soft memory food within Singapore? The programme offered a safe space for social experimentation. We were totally surprised by the traction, acceptance and learnings," said Mr Lim.

The innovative business idea saw Mr Lim, who obtained a Master of Gerontology from SUSS in 2017, becoming one of the winners at an event on Tuesday (Feb 23) organised by Enterprise Singapore in which 14 teams pitched their ideas.

Announced in August last year by Enterprise Singapore, the three-month Venture Building programmes are part of the enhanced Startup SG Founder scheme. Several universities including Nanyang Technological University (NTU), National University of Singapore, Singapore Management University, Singapore University of Technology and Design, and Singapore University of Social Sciences support the programmes.

Mr Lim has had a long career including as a naval officer, a senior manager in the logistic sector and the head of a nursing home.

Inspired by the availability of soft food with authentic local flavours for the older population in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan, he and some other partners came up with a platform, Konnect, in which consumers, food producers and advocacy groups could come together to achieve a common goal - to create and purchase soft food that are familiar and visually pleasing.

His partners included two former colleagues in the logistics industry, Mr Raymond Teo, 52, and Ms Lynn Chia, 50, as well as the founder of the social enterprise, Sweet Stories Amy Cheng, 46.

Besides meeting the needs of the silver generation, Konnect also serves people suffering from dysphagia, a condition in which patients find it difficult to swallow, and toddlers transiting from liquid to solid food.

Mr Lim said one of only two soft food producers in Singapore, three home kitchens and a hawker are now keen to work with him and his partners.

"Create that right environment and people will always find ways to make life better for themselves and others," said Mr Lim.