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NEXT year, up to eight final-year undergraduates will form the inaugural intake of the Infocomm Investments' (IIPL) Management Associate Track (iMAT), believed to the first programme in Asia to offer students accelerated, all-access exposure to the world of venture capital and entrepreneurship.
iMAT, announced on Tuesday, marks yet another government initiative unveiled this year to boost Singapore's startup ecosystem - in particular, the "talents upstream of the ecosystem chain", Juliana Lim, IIPL executive manager, told BT. "Growing this pool of talent will create value-add to the ecosystem because at the heart of it all, human talent is critical to any organisation, be it a startup or venture capital firm," she said.
An 18-month programme, iMAT will comprise a six-month part-time stint (to be completed by the management associate, or MAs, before graduation) and a 12-month full-time job position (after graduation) at IIPL, the private venture capital arm of the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA).
During the 12 months at IIPL, the MAs will be rotated across various work areas such as portfolio management of companies, evaluation of deal flows, forging of partnerships and maintaining of stakeholder relationships - while being mentored by Alex Lin and Pang Heng Soon, head and general manager of IIPL respectively.
Suitable candidates who complete the 18-month programme will be offered full-time positions at IIPL, or can choose to take up positions at IDA, a venture capital firm or startup.
"What sets iMAT apart from other MA programmes is the six-month 'headstart' in real-world exposure to a dynamic startup scene while still in school," said IIPL's Ms Lim. In addition, there is the potential to work in the government and become "movers and shakers" in policymaking, Ms Lim added.
When asked what makes a good venture capitalist, Michael Lints, venture partner at Golden Gate Ventures, said: "One of the most important skills is to use experience and network to source the right deals, coach and support startups one invests in, and find the right partners to invest with. And one learns this by making mistakes - through building his or her own company or leading a group through a dynamic environment - and learning from them."
Hooi Den Huan, director of the Nanyang Technological University's Technopreneurship Center, praised iMAT as a "rare and great" learning opportunity for students, many of whom are increasingly interested in entrepreneurship and investment. "It's great to learn that IIPL is taking the lead to pioneer this programme not just in Singapore, but in Asia."
IIPL will partner homegrown recruitment startup Glints to reach out to final-year undergraduates - from any faculty in a local university - who are expecting to graduate in 2016.