A National Taiwan University venture capital fund is making headway in bringing student-developed products to market and helping the institution’s young inventors realize their potential.

NTU Garage has assisted around 3,000 students in starting businesses over the past seven years. This number looks set to increase as the fund secures more tie-ups with foreign investors looking for promising Asia-based business opportunities.

Chen Liang-gee, vice president of NTU, said the fund has provided the means for students to establish and run 10 sustainable businesses. “Going forward, we hope 1 in 10 NTU graduates will join the ranks of the self-employed.

“After all, NTU students should be generating employment opportunities, not taking jobs from others.”

Similarly bullish on the viability of the NTU initiative is Chen Ju-fen, CEO of NTU’s Entrepreneur Center—a campus-based organization that helps students create new ventures. “The fund and center are inspired by a similar model employed by Stanford University in the U.S.,” she said.

According to the CEO, one of the most recent success stories involves an all-in-one 3-D printer designed by FLUX, a company headed by NTU undergraduates Simon Ko and Jim Yu.

“The project got off the ground with the assistance of the fund and SVT Angel, a venture capital investment outfit based in Silicon Valley. It also raised US$1.64 million via global crowdfunding platform Kickstarter,” she said.

Ko, 21, a student at NTU’s Department of Computer Science and Information Engineering, said the original funding target of US$100,000 was quickly surpassed after 2,700-plus investors got wind of the printer and pledged support.

“The multifunction desktop printer is easy to use and can also create baked goods,” he said. “The modules and printing nozzles are interchangeable and ingredients such as butter, chocolate and coffee can be used.”

Chen Ju-fen has high hopes for the success of the device and believes it arrived at a time when 3-D printers are surging in popularity. “The big appeal of the FLUX printer is its ease of use and wide-ranging applications.

“We are confident the unit will quickly win favor in the marketplace at home and abroad.” (SSC-JSM)

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