written by Akmal Sabaruddin, Spring ’18 YSEALI PFP Fellow from Malaysia
In spring 2018, I was selected to the YSEALI Economic Empowerment program and I spent my time in San Diego at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) and Hera Labs, Sorrento Valley for an attachment under the supervision of Dr. Silvia Mah. With similar academic backgrounds, we were focusing on organizing entrepreneurial program for academics especially for undergraduate students. Other than focusing on the academic training, I was inspired to see the business hub at UCSD which also known as “The Basement”. This hub was designed to provide a space for entrepreneurial activities such as forums, lectures, meeting spaces for investors and for student’s startups to discuss and develop their product before it’s ready for the market. Apart from that, I also spent my time at Hera Labs, Sorrento Valley during my attachment in San Diego. Hera Labs is a business accelerator which empowers women entrepreneurs and startups to scale their businesses. My time with Hera Labs was really an eye opener for me to move forward in helping student’s startups by providing them with good facilities in a safe business environment.
In November 2018, my U.S. outbound project was selected for funding from the U.S. State Department. This was the only opportunity for me to convince the university management team to develop a business hub for student startups. I finally managed to get a space for the business hub from the faculty management team and it will be called as “FSK (Faculty of Health Sciences) Business Hub”. After trying many times and ways in finding grants, finally I got an approval from the university for strategic research funding. This is the golden opportunity for me to take a lead in the development of the faculty business hub. At the moment, the business hub is still undergoing some upgrading process and it is expected to complete by November 2019. I am glad for the opportunity given in the YSEALI PFP program where I can make a change for a better cause and contribute back to the university and the society.