By Christine Teh
After Dr Liu Jian completed his Ph.D degree in electrical and electronic engineering (EEE) at NTU Singapore in 2005, he returned to Shenzhen to grow the startup he co-founded, which researches into and produces high tech equipment powered by lasers and fibre optics.
He named the company Shenzhen JPT Opto-electronics and oversaw the business as its General Manager. On his watch, the company listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange four years ago, and today, it has 700 patents and software copyright applications to its name.
Alumnus Dr Liu Jian (centre) speaking at NTU China Alumni Conference 2023.
Dr Liu recounted his entrepreneurial journey at the NTU China Alumni Conference held on 10 September 2023 in Shenzhen. During the conference, alumni business leaders discussed translating innovation and research into meaningful business collaborations and entrepreneurial opportunities in the Greater Bay Area of China. They also shared the lessons they learned from their entrepreneurial journey with the alumni community.
Dr Liu also serves as the Vice President of the NTU Alumni Association (Guangdong), and he attributed his company's success to the decision to hire fellow alumni.
He said, “There are 11 colleagues in my company who did a Ph.D degree in EEE from NTU, and they are now key researchers and managers. We work well together because studying in Singapore helped us foster a global mindset – this is handy when conducting our business across Asia, North America and Europe.”
In the future, Dr Liu hopes to support and work with the professors and alumni of NTU to innovate on new technologies and help alumni keen to set up their businesses in China or even incubate their startups at his company.
Two other alumni speakers, Dr Zhu Bin Bin (SPMS/2017) from Shenzhen HCCL Technology and Dr Liu Hong Jie (EEE/2013) from Shenzhen Reexen Technology, have also established their own companies in Shenzhen and hired NTU Ph.D graduates.
In Dr Liu Hongjie’s experience, the company leader must maintain composure and be optimistic in challenging times. She remarked, “Financing is an important step in managing a company, and even if it does not go well, entrepreneurs need to boost the morale of the team and be determined to execute what’s been planned.”
From left: Panel session moderator, Ms Chen Mo (WKWSCI/2008), from Shenzhen Angel Investment Guidance Fund. Dr Zhu Bin Bin from Shenzhen HCCL Technology, Dr Liu Hong Jie from Shenzhen Reexen Technology, and Mr Shang Fang Jie from Shenzhen Namiton spoke to fellow alumni.
Alumni’s role in NTU’s ecosystem
Speaking at the alumni conference, Prof Louis Phee, NTU’s Vice President (Innovation & Entrepreneurship) and Dean of the College of Engineering, reiterated how alumni, who are resourceful with rich experiences and established networks are integral to building a strong innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem at NTU.
He elaborated, “We want to create an environment that encourages collaboration between our alumni, the University, and the industry. Alumni can partner with NTU as business incubators, investors, or mentors.”
One example is Shenzhen Namiton New Material Company, an NTU spin-off that commercialises hollow fibre nanofiltration technology. Shang Fang Jie (MPA/2021), General Manager of the company, said, “While our research arm sits in Singapore, we chose to base our company in Shenzhen as the city provides us with supportive government measures, an entrepreneurial environment, and a complete supply chain. Moreover, our clients are in the Greater Bay Area.”
Prof Louis Phee, NTU’s Vice President (Innovation & Entrepreneurship) and Dean of the College of Engineering, addresses NTU alumni on 10 September 2023 in Shenzhen.
In the evening, more than 550 alumni from different Chinese cities gathered for a networking dinner where alumni association members performed at the dinner. In attendance were the Singapore Consulate-General in Guangzhou, Mr Loh Tuck Keat, NTU President, Prof Ho Teck Hua, and other senior management members from NTU.
A sand art performance depicting NTU’s iconic building, The Hive, during the NTU China Alumni Dinner.
NTU also held its 15th China Convocation on 9 and 10 September in Shenzhen to celebrate the academic achievements of over 2,000 graduates from the University’s eight postgraduate programmes and the Lien Ying Chow Fellowship Programme.
NTU President, Prof Ho Teck Hua, shared the University’s plan to set up the NTU Singapore-China Knowledge Hub to deepen collaboration between NTU and China in his Convocation address. He also called on alumni to be ambassadors of NTU.
Zeng Peng (NBS/2009), the president of NTU Alumni Association (Guangdong), said: “NTU China Alumni Conference and Dinner was successfully held in Shenzhen after a hiatus of three years. Our alumni enjoyed attending the event and cherished the opportunity to connect with other alumni. There will be smaller gathering events in different Chinese cities throughout the year for them to network. We look forward to contributing to our alma mater, be it volunteering for community service as a group or opening doors for our juniors when they work or study in China.”
In China, there are more than 36,000 NTU alumni, with 4,000 of them based in Guangdong, making the province, which includes Shenzhen and Guangzhou, the biggest alumni base for NTU in China. Globally, NTU has a network of over 286,000 alumni living in 165 countries.
The organising team from NTU Alumni Association (Guangdong), including Mr Zeng Peng (5th from right) who has volunteered for NTU since 2015.
NTU China Convocation 2023.