We need innovation in the energy sector to build a sustainable future

The energy sector is a vital part of the global economy – and it’s in crisis. We explore how innovation in the energy sector is an important solution in building a sustainable future, including insights from Kelvin Ling, MBA graduate at NUS Business School and co-founder of his own cleantech start-up.

In short

The energy sector is complex

The energy sector comprises companies that engage in the sale and production of energy. Think oil and gas, renewable energy, and utility companies. The energy sector is highly complex, influenced by factors like advanced technologies, government regulations, and the global economy. 

The global energy sector is currently experiencing a shift from traditional energy sources to cleaner ones. Demand for climate action drives the shift. Fortunately, the share of renewable energy in global use has increased over the past few years. However, according to the International Energy Agency, there has not been enough investment in energy. The number of people without access to modern energy is rising for the first time in 10 years. More recently, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine triggered a global energy crisis, putting the progress of sustainable energy on the line.

The importance of innovation in the energy sector

Because access to energy plays such a central role in our lives, innovation in the energy sector is imperative. It can help reduce costs, increase efficiency, meet increasing energy demands, improve energy security, and create economic growth across the sector.

Kelvin Ling, a graduate of the NUS MBA program at NUS Business School, adds, “It’s a very nascent space where there are a lot of unknowns. People don’t know where is the endpoint and how is the journey going to be. … Nothing is fixed, nothing is constant, you need to be always on the lookout for new opportunities.” (00:33)

Cleantech, or clean technology, is a subset of the clean energy sector, which aims to design and produce environmentally friendly and sustainable technologies and products. Some examples of cleantech products include wind turbines, solar panels, electric vehicles, and energy-efficient lighting.

Since the 2015 Paris Agreement, there has been a sharp increase in the number of public policy measures to support clean energy start-ups. This is significant because tech start-ups in the energy sector have historically struggled to attract capital. Meanwhile, governments can offer unique resources to help them grow, from infrastructure (e.g., office spaces) to services (e.g., accelerator programs) to networking opportunities (e.g., access to industry and investor networks).

As an entrepreneur himself, Kelvin valued the opportunity to deepen his own skills at his current company. “The skill of intrapreneurship is something that I took away from [NUS], and I’m able to apply it in my current role where I have to look at a lot of new, innovative ideas in order to drive business towards the energy space,” he shares. (02:58)

Let’s take a closer look at Kelvin’s entrepreneurship journey in the energy sector.

Building a cleaner energy future step by step

Many business schools around the world offer resources and support to (aspiring) entrepreneurs. For Kelvin, the NUS Energy Club, and the NUS GRIP program, proved to be invaluable.

The Energy Club introduced Kelvin to new friends and professional contacts he maintains today. While the NUS GRIP program provided him with intensive guidance to start his own company. NUS GRIP is one-year program with the opportunity to gain up to S$100,000 in funding from the Singapore-based business school. NUS GRIP also offers step-by-step guidance, mentorship, and access to NUS resources, to help students turn their research into impactful tech start-ups.

“Through this NUS GRIP and NUS MBA collaboration, I managed to find my co-founder, and we have a clean tech startup,” he says. “That is something that I probably would find hard to set up if I had not had this great program, which provides a lot of support to the co-founders in terms of funding, in terms of networking, and in terms of trying to bring your product onto the market.” (01:48)

While the global economy remains in crisis, there is no denying that innovation in the energy sector is the prime solution. Through the power of innovation and programs like NUS GRIP, we can move closer (and faster) to a safe and sustainable energy future.

Curious to learn more about the benefits of doing an MBA at NUS Business School? Reach out directly to a current or past student at NUS to find out!

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