SU launches (press release)

June 25, 2009



40 Students Chosen from More than 1,200 Candidates to Kick Off Graduate Summer Program

Students Focused on Addressing “Humanity’s Grand Challenges” through Scientific and Technological Collaboration and Innovation

Leading Venture Capital Firm Joins University as Corporate Founder, Key Financial Donor

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. – June 25, 2009 – Singularity University (SU) — the new academic institution with the goal of preparing the next generation of leaders to address “humanity’s grand challenges” — today announced the selection of 40 students to represent the inaugural class for the Graduate Summer Program (GSP). Singularity University narrowed the final 40 students from a pool of more than 1,200 candidate applications around the globe. The summer program begins on June 29, 2009, based at its campus on the NASA Ames Research Park.

SU also announced that leading Silicon Valley venture capital firm, ePlanet Ventures, joins SU as the newest Corporate Founder to support the institution.

Singularity University is modeled after the successful International Space University, founded at MIT in 1987, which has become one of the leading interdisciplinary, international and intercultural institutions for the study of space. The Graduate Summer Program is a nine-week graduate-level interdisciplinary curriculum designed to facilitate understanding, collaboration, and innovation across a broad range of carefully chosen scientific and technological disciplines whose developments are exponentially accelerating.

A Look at the Summer Class

Students for the inaugural summer program were chosen based on their level of expertise in individual “tracks,” demonstrated entrepreneurial and leadership skills, and their commitment to addressing and solving important issues facing our world.

“The level of interest from candidates around the world exceeded our initial expectations,” said Dr. Ray Kurzweil, co-founder of Singularity University. “We received applications from expert candidates in over 60 countries, so competition was very tough for the 40 open spots. Narrowing the field was challenging. The selected students embody the key characteristics, experience, and ‘start-up mentality’ we believe are required to address our grandest challenges today and tomorrow.”

The summer class is composed of 26 men and 14 women, ranging in age from 22 to 47 years old. The 13 nations represented are: USA, Canada, Israel, United Kingdom, Mexico, Brazil, Bolivia, India, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Turkey, and Russia.

Specific experience and expertise in one of the ten key fields of study, or “tracks,” was required to secure a spot in the inter-disciplinary institution. The number of student experts in each of the ten tracks are: future studies and forecasting – 5; policy, law and ethics – 7; finance and entrepreneurship – 5; networks and computing systems – 6; biotechnology and bioinformatics – 3; nanotechnology – 2; medicine, neuroscience and human enhancement – 4; AI, robotics – 3; energy and ecological systems – 2; and space and physical sciences – 3.

“It’s rare that a new university comes into existence, and we are proud of the students representing this first class,” said Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, co-founder of Singularity University. “Ray Kurzweil and I look forward to seeing what this stellar combination of students and faculty will produce throughout the course of the program. The potential is unlimited. And, we truly believe Singularity University will positively impact humanity.”

Venture Capital Support Behind SU

ePlanet Ventures joins SU as the only venture capital firm at the Corporate Founder level, with a donation of $250,000. In addition to financial support for SU, the firm will mentor students as they develop projects and new business ideas, a partner will serve as an advisor and lecturer on the Finance and Entrepreneurship track, and sit on the Board of Trustees. Google is an existing Corporate Founder.

“The close alignment of our goals with SU made the partnership a natural fit,” said Asad Jamal, Chairman and CEO of ePlanet Ventures. “ePlanet Ventures was founded to support innovation in technology and sciences, and has been a leader in discovering disruptive innovation and promoting cross-border migration of technological innovation, business models and entrepreneurship. We anticipate great ideas and global solutions to come from SU with the expert concentration of students, faculty, and other supporters. We’re thrilled to be a part of this innovative venture from the start.”

Interest in sponsoring Singularity University has been strong since its founding, and nearly all its financial supporting positions have been filled. Three positions are still available to join ePlanet Ventures and Google as Corporate Founders, and SU is in discussions with a number of the Bay Area companies to fill the remaining positions. Please visit the Founders’ Circle for more information on corporate and individual sponsorship.

Looking Forward

Singularity University will offer 3-day “C-level” and 10-day “mid-level” executive management programs in Fall ’09. Exact program dates will be announced later in the year. Interested candidates can submit applications and request additional information at


Singularity University (SU) is an interdisciplinary university whose mission is to assemble, educate and inspire a cadre of leaders who strive to understand and facilitate the development of exponentially advancing technologies in order to address humanity’s grand challenges. With the support of a broad range of leaders in academia, business and government, SU hopes to stimulate groundbreaking, disruptive thinking and solutions aimed at solving some of the planet’s most pressing challenges. SU is based at the NASA Ames campus in Silicon Valley. For more information, go to


ePlanet Ventures is a leading global venture capital firm headquartered in Silicon Valley, with international offices in London, New Delhi, Bangalore, Shanghai, and Beijing, as well as a presence in Hong Kong, Seoul and Tokyo. ePlanet Ventures has funded over 80 innovative high-growth companies worldwide, including landmark deals Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU), Skype (sold to eBay for approx. US$3B in 2005), and Focus Media (NASDAQ:FMCN). ePlanet is one of the leaders in promoting the cross-border migration of technological innovation, business models and entrepreneurship. The Firm has made investments in sectors such as the Internet (consumer Internet, Internet services and applications), wireless communications and applications, VoIP and other broadband services, entertainment, semiconductor design, life sciences and other emerging services sectors. The firm has won the China Venture Capital Association Exit of the Year 2005 for Baidu, and the European Venture Capital Association Deal of the Year 2005 Award for Skype, and has been profiled in FORBES Feb. 2007 as a “Pioneer in Global Venture Capital.” Asad Jamal, Chairman and CEO of ePlanet Ventures was recently profiled in FORBES MIDAS List 2008 as a top 10 venture capitalists in the world.

Singularity University Press Contact

Denise Vardakas
The Conversation Group

ePlanet Ventures Press Contact
Rupam Shrivastava
ePlanet Ventures