The entrepreneurial bug has bitten
On the back of their victory, the team were successful at the inaugural 1K competition organised by the University of Cambridge’s newly formed Entrepreneurship Society and were also shortlisted at the British Bioscience Entrepreneurship Competition. At this point, Yunus’s team members decided to pursue job offers and follow the more traditional post-PhD career path, bringing an end to the team’s journey together.
For a time, Yunus decided to enter the world of employment himself but after YES, always had the entrepreneurial bug, setting up a total of four companies whilst working for other people. He also set up two companies on his own in the areas of Green Technology Consulting and Agriculture.
Getting young children interested in science
Fast forward to the present day and Yunus is now well known in Malaysia for his work inspiring the next generation to become inventors. It all started when Yunus set up a Science Club for children in low income primary schools in Malaysia. The Young Scientific Explorer used simple experiments to get children interested in science. The programme was so successful that the Malaysian Community Education Foundation became involved and Yunus then helped launched a larger, improved national programme: The Science Fair for Young Children (SFYC).
The number of children taking part in SFYC grew rapidly year on year and led Yunus to set up The Association of Science Technology and Innovation (ASTI), a not-for-profit, non-governmental organization with the objectives of empowering young children through various science-based and skills-development projects. Talking about awakening the spirit of invention, Yunus says: “When it comes to innovation, students consider how to use their out-of-the-box thinking to benefit others.”
SFYC was positioned under ASTI and Yunus now wanted to create something for secondary school children, preparing them to take part in national and international competitions. The ASTI Leap Challenge was born. Adding to this, the Young Inventors Challenge was also created for children to participate in once they had graduated from the SFYC.
Yunus is passionate about supporting teachers in their role and in 2016 added a teacher training programme, On the Wings of Fire, to ASTI’s offering. The aim is to build the Malaysian teaching community’s confidence which Yunus feels is much-needed in today’s fast-changing world.
Continuing to support teachers, Yunus became Advisor on STEM to the Minister of Education, Malaysia at the end of 2019. It’s a 2-year pro-bono role where Yunus is looking to improve education in Malaysia. Yunus says: “Teachers are very much in the box and the system doesn’t allow them to think outside of it. We are going to help them to build confidence in delivering their lessons and take some risks to benefit their students.”
Coming full circle: The pedagogy of techno-entrepreneurship
Yunus feels that to be a true techno-entrepreneur, one has to be confident to do things on their own. He says: “To do things on their own, one has to be an innovator. To be an innovator, one has to understand the fundamentals of science and their overriding principles. SFYC is about understanding fundamentals, the Young Inventors Challenge is about being an innovator, and ASTI is now embarking on a pilot entrepreneurial project similar to YES for schools. Thus, the circle is complete.”
Visit The Association of Science Technology and Innovation (ASTI)