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Nurturing Entrepreneurship Thinking

​​Did you know that UTP’s Technopreneurship Office has developed 120 startups and generated 8800 jobs? We go behind the scenes to uncover the secret of its success.

Zamri Abdullah believes that entrepreneurship is a na​​tional agenda, not just the exclusive purview of a few.


“Entrepreneurship thinking not only sharpens graduands’ capabilities and skills to be highly valued in the industries and organizations, but gives them greater freedom of choice to create their own businesses if employment does not suit them,” he asserts.

This is the reason that entrepreneurship is outlined as Shift #1 in the Ministry of Education Blueprint 2015-2025 (MEB2015-2025). “The objective of Shift #1 is to improve graduates’ quality across intellectual, spiritual, emotional and physical dimensions, to enable them to thrive in today’s complex global economy and contribute to the betterment of society. With the publication of the Ministry of Education Blueprint (2015-2025), developing holistic and entrepreneurial graduates has become a priority.”

Well-rounded global graduates

Describing himself as “someone who’s crazily passionate about innovation and entrepreneurship, and a big believer towards the ‘learning by doing’ and experiental learning ethos”, Zamri joined UTP as a lecturer in the Chemical Engineering Department circa 2001, but has since then has been involved in all forms of innovation. His work spans research, supervision and more recently, driving the technopreneurship agenda at UTP’s Technopreneurship Office, which was established in 2016.

On the driving force behind the Office’s genesis, he says, “One of the catalysts is the uncertainty of the oil prices and competitiveness of the job market. We need to initiate something to assure and secure the economic future of our graduates upon graduation, not only to be employed in the industries and organisations, but also being able to create their own opportunities through setting up businesses.”

“Businesses are looking for more than just academic achievements. They want to see how you can apply them in the world of work. In short, they are looking for well-rounded individuals with job-creating mindsets who can help expand their business.”

Creating value

TECHNOPRENEURSHIP-web-2.jpgAs the Manager of the Technopreneurship Office, Zamri is responsible to drive and lead the development and implementation of entrepreneurial development strategies through non-credited (extra-curricular) programmes and students' experience in producing well-rounded global graduates. He also monitors the involvement of students in innovation and entrepreneurship starting from their enrolment in UTP during Foundation/Year 1 up to their graduation to ensure everyone undergone 100% exposure and upskilled in both domains.

“Our aim is to develop students with high entrepreneurial mindset who are able to create values not only in the organisation that they will be working, but also to their own companies if they are starting one,” he shares.

Therefore, one of his key roles is to formulate and drive the strategies right from the beginning i.e. through awareness and activation of mindset, to assisting startup to grow as sustainable companies.

A supportive alumni

People say it takes a village to raise a child; the Office’s not-so-secret superpower is its strong alumni network.

“Alumni has been part of our Office since Day 1,” Zamri shares. “We really appreciate them taking the time to provide energy and contribute, as they play an important role in co-developing the fledgling startups into promising ones.”

How can alumni get involved? “Some come in as coaches or speakers in seminars and webinars, while others get involved in ideation programs where they facilitate workshops to help students develop their ideas further,” he explains. “They become mentors for competitions and hackathons and contribute to Yayasan UTP to help fund 90 teams this way.”

The crux of the Office’s approach can be summarised as the 4Es, says Zamri.

EXPLORE - by sharing experiences through Sembang Garage seminars, Alumni Entrepreneur Network Day (at KL Campus) and Entrepreneur Round Table Talk (online during pandemic).

EQUIP - by engaging alumni coach and equip budding entrepreneurs with skills needed through Startup Apprentice Programs and Kickstart My Startup Bootcamp masterclasses.

ENGAGE – by participating in competitions and hackathons. Funded by Yayasan UTP, MicroBiz and TechnoSeed is for students who want to run businesses and develop prototypes for their startups.

EXCEL - by involving the more committed alumni to become members of the Student Development Advisory Council to further advocate and advise the university on the planning and implementation of entrepreneurship.

A stellar track record

The results speak for themselves. Since inception, the Office has generated more than 8800 jobs around Malaysia. 

For 2021 alone, the Office has helped students organise more than 100 programmes and upskilled over 5000 students. “120 startups have been developed to date, with a third in AI, robotics, Internet of Things, 3D printing and other internet related enterprises, while the rest focus on non-tech such as fashion and wellness, F&B, logistics and education.”

“One of them, LIDI, was a finalist at the 2021 MaGIC University Startup Challenge and JomCut was named one of 27 Top Beauty Brands & Start-ups in Malaysia,” Zamri shares proudly. 

​The Office itself has also received external accolades for its efforts and contribution to learning and higher education. It was a top 3 finalist for the Ministry of Higher Education Entrepreneurial Award 2021 (Anugerah Keusahawanan KPT 2021) in the Best Institutional Award (University) category and most recently, won the Times Higher Education (THE) Asia Award 2021 in the Outstanding Support for Students category.

The foundation for success

What’s next for the Office? Zamri says, “Since we have developed more than 100 student businesses, there are many that could be made into examples for students to learn, analysed and be inspired from.”

“In fact, in my masterclasses I did include the case studies of some of the startups that we have developed through the years. For example, their aspiration in kickstarting business, how they select their target customer, the value they provide, business model that employed and the impact created to the communities.”

Clearly, knowing how to muster resources at their disposal has been the foundation to success for the Technopreneurship Office. We wish them continued success in their future undertakings! 

​Published: 21 February 2022​​​