Investing in Tech vs Deep Tech: Where Should We Stand? | SGInnovate
November 21 2018


BASH, Level 3
Block 79 Ayer Rajah Crescent
Singapore 139955

Investing in Tech vs Deep Tech: Where Should We Stand?

Presented by SGInnovate and EmTech Asia
In support of Innovators Under 35

In 1964, Isaac Asimov, the father of modern science fiction and the creator of the well-known “Three Laws of Robotics”, predicted that in 2014 we would be driving flying cars. Fast forward to 2018 - and we’re nowhere near to realising his vision.

So what happened between then and now?

Software (and the internet) happened.

In the past few decades, a slew of internet-based applications have brought somewhat easy money to investors worldwide. Why invest in new, tough to commercialise technology, when you can invest in a game like Angry Birds, which is going to give you ten times the returns after just a couple of years?

We need to go back to investing deep tech, to investing in the unimaginable. We need to invest in founders who are working on scientific breakthroughs and emerging technologies that hold the potential to change the future.

That’s what excites us and that’s why we’re holding this panel discussion. We want to understand:

  • What are the challenges faced by deep tech startups in getting investments for the first time?
  • How do you raise funds for subsequent rounds?
  • What are investors looking for in deep tech startups?
  • What types of investors or partners are startups looking for?

Join us for an evening of intelligent conversations with curious people. We will also be unveiling MIT Technology Review’s annual list of Innovators Under 35 from the Asia-Pacific region. Do not miss this opportunity to meet young founders and researchers who are working on the next wave of deep tech breakthroughs.

Date: 21 November 2018
Time: 5:30pm – 8:00pm
Venue: BASH, Level 3, Block 79 Ayer Rajah Crescent, Singapore 139955


  • Dr. Li Guangda, CTO and Cofounder, Visenze (Innovators Under 35 APAC Alumnus)
  • Rajiv Menon, Head of Investments and M&A - Asia-Pacific and Japan (APJ), Cisco (Innovators Under 35 APAC Judge)
  • Pang Heng Soon, Head of Venture Building, SGInnovate
  • Dr. Wesley Zheng, Cofounder, Volans-I (Innovators Under 35 APAC Alumnus)

Moderated by: Maya Hari, VP & Managing Director Asia-Pacific, Twitter (Innovators Under 35 APAC Judge)

Programme Details:

5:30pm – 6:00pm: Registration
6:00pm – 6:10pm: Welcome by Mr Steve Leonard, Founding CEO, SGInnovate
6:10pm – 6:40pm: Panel discussion
6:40pm – 6:50pm: Audience Q&A
6:50pm - 7:20pm: Innovators Under 35 Asia Pacific – Announcement of 10 Honourees
7:20pm – 8:00pm: Networking and End


Speakers' Profiles:

Dr. Li Guangda, CTO and Cofounder, Visenze (Innovators Under 35 APAC alumnus)

Dr. Li Guangda is the CTO and Co-Founder of ViSenze, a tech spinoff company from the NUS School of Computing that powers visual commerce at scale for retailers and publishers. He has many years of experience in product management, engineering and R&D, and has built teams from scratch.  Dr. Li obtained his PhD from NUS and was named a finalist of the top innovators under the age of 35 from the Southeast Asian region by MIT Technology Review.


Rajiv Menon, Head of Investments and M&A - Asia Pacific and Japan (APJ), Cisco (Innovators Under 35 APAC Judge)

As Head of Cisco Investments and M&A for Asia Pacific and Japan, Rajiv leads an experienced team of professionals investing actively in a variety of strategic and thematic areas across Security, Collaboration Technologies, Big Data, Cloud, IOT, Storage, Connected Mobility, AI, Silicon and adjacent areas both directly and via LP positions. With an active portfolio of 24 direct investments plus eight venture funds, the team continues to add to its APJ portfolio. Rajiv and his team are also responsible for originating and executing M&A transactions and Joint Venture partnerships across Asia-Pacific and Japan.

Prior to his current role, Rajiv served as the Managing Director for Cisco Capital Asia Pacific, Japan and Greater China. In all, Rajiv has more than 20 years of experience in credit structuring, term lending, trade finance, venture lending, venture investing and M&A. Prior to joining Cisco, he co-founded Captive Finance Corporation that operated as an independent company for six years before being acquired by Fortis Bank.

Originally from New Delhi, Rajiv began his corporate finance career with the venerable Tata Group after receiving his Masters in Finance from the University of Delhi. Rajiv now resides in Singapore with his family and is an avid Polo player.

Pang Heng Soon, Head of Venture Building, SGInnovate

Heng Soon brings with him 30 years of in-depth knowledge and experience in technology startups investments. At SGInnovate, he leads the Venture Building team that is focused on launching new startups that have research and intellectual property at their core.

To increase the success rates of these early-stage deep-tech startups, the Venture Building team also provides business building advice and works closely with them in areas such as use case and customer identification, talent recruiting, and strategic priorities.

Prior to his current role, Heng Soon was active in sales and business development, having had leadership roles in the precision manufacturing and automation equipment sector.

Heng Soon started his career at Singapore’s Economic Development Board (EDB) where he led efforts in identifying promising Singapore companies for targeted development. While at EDB Investments, Heng Soon was involved in direct investments into high-growth US-based technology startups.

He graduated as a Diplom-Ingenieur from Hamburg, Germany in 1985.


Dr. Wesley Zheng, Cofounder, Volans-I (Innovators Under 35 APAC Alumnus)

Dr. Wesley Zheng Guangyuan is currently an Assistant Professor in NUS. He received his B.A. and M.A. degrees in Chemical Engineering from the University of Cambridge, and did his PhD and Post-doctorate at Stanford University under the tutelage of Prof. Yi Cui and Prof. Steven Chu respectively.

His research work focused on developing high capacity electrodes for the next-generation lithium batteries. Dr. Zheng is a recipient of the National Science Scholarship from A*STAR and is one of the Innovators Under 35 Asia from MIT Technology Review.

Dr. Zheng also co-founded a venture-backed startup, Volans-I, to develop high-payload, long-range delivery drone. The company is backed by Y-combinator, Light Speed Venture Partners and other VCs from Silicon Valley.


Moderator's Profile:

Maya Hari, VP & Managing Director Asia-Pacific, Twitter (Innovators Under 35 APAC Judge)

Maya is responsible for building Twitter's business across Asia-Pacific and for exploring commercial opportunities for Twitter in the region. Prior to this role, Maya was Twitter’s Managing Director of Asia Pacific, and previously Managing Director of India and Southeast Asia, as well as Senior Director, Product Sales & Strategy, Asia Pacific, Middle East and Emerging Markets.

Prior to joining Twitter in 2014, Maya spent over 15 years in the digital media, mobile and eCommerce industries across the US and in Asia-Pacific for brands such as Samsung, Google, Microsoft and Cisco. She was also responsible for launching and bringing Internet and mobile offerings to top tier publications such as Vogue, GQ and Condé Nast Traveller in Asia.

Maya holds an MBA from INSEAD and an MS in Engineering from the Utah State University.

Topics: Investments