Deal Street Asia reported on a panel discussion at the recently concluded Indonesia PE-VC Summit 2020 in Jakarta which kicked off with the question: “What is deep tech?”. The panel included Tong Hsien-Hui, Head of Venture Investing at SGInnovate; Pamitra Wineka, Co-Founder and President, TaniHub; and Norazli Mohamad Nor, Senior Vice President, Investments, Xeraya Capital. During the discussion, they addressed the approaches to making deep tech investments more returns focused and how the dial had moved on the sector’s ability to attract funding. The panel agreed that one of the big stumbling blocks in the industry was a lack of understanding or agreement on a common definition around deep tech, as well as confusion among VC funds who tended to jump on trends and apply them to general technology companies instead. Hsien-Hui emphasised that while SGInnovate had a longer returns horizon than many funds, it was well defined. He explained, “We build a landscape around a specific technology, look at the investment pathways and invest in companies that are stages along that path.”
Following the media statement disseminated, Deal Street Asia published an article on Founding CEO Steve Leonard’s impending departure from SGInnovate in May. Closely following key points from the statement, the article added that SGInnovate had declined to comment if Steve will maintain an advisory role upon departure and said his next role will be announced “in due course.” The story also highlighted Steve’s journey with SGInnovate since its launch in 2016 and shared that SGInnovate has since built and invested over $28.8 million (S$40 million) in more than 60 deep tech startups and created a community of over 33,000 people. Steve’s quote from the statement was included in its entirety.
CNA published a commentary on Singapore’s economic growth and how challenges will continue to contribute to slower growth. The US-China trade war is affecting the Singapore economy by disrupting global supply chains. Singapore’s labour force is also expected to decline from this year onwards. Advances in technology is making it possible for foreign firms to employ workers to perform many tasks remotely, creating greater challenges for Singapore to attract foreign direct investments. Since capital investment ultimately faces diminishing returns, the source of sustained growth comes from indigenous innovation. To that end, Singapore has been expanding its own capacity to innovate, by shifting the education system, strengthening the startup ecosystem and growing the VC industry. The Government has placed more emphasis in nurturing startups, through the creation of grants, loans and co-investment funds, as well as the creation of SGInnovate. These efforts, however, will take time to bear fruit.
MoneyFM 89.3 published the interview with SGInnovate Founding CEO Steve Leonard, on how Deep Tech has helped the world so far and what we can expect from it in 2020. Steve started off by rounding up how technology has evolved in 2019, noting that the year is a tipping point where AI became more widely discussed and how SGInnovate is allaying the concerns that people have with it. While convenience-oriented tech is good, the world is facing tough challenges that Deep Tech can help address. Steve and the anchors also discussed how MedTech is helping with the ageing population, and how it is helping to augment the role of medical professionals rather than replace it. CleanTech is also one of the key trends for the year ahead, which looks at how tech can improve the environment in terms of water, sourcing for alternative energy and addressing food security. Finally, Steve also shared about quantum technology – how SGInnovate is helping to bring greater awareness by hosting quantum tech events where people can come together and discuss what might be possible with the nascent technology.
The Straits Times Online published an article on President Halimah Yacob’s five-day state visit to Germany which focused on education and the workforce, where she highlighted that Singapore can learn from Germany’s education system. Under Germany’s dual education system, companies and education institutions work together to teach students over three years. Madam Halimah also hailed the European Union-Singapore Free Trade Agreement as an important milestone and expressed her hopes that the EU-Singapore Investment Protection and Partnership Cooperation Agreement would be ratified soon, adding that there is scope for more collaboration in the areas of research, innovation and technology, with her visit featuring a number of tie-ups between German partners and Singaporean organisations such as the EDB, Enterprise Singapore and SGInnovate.
Asia Fruit reported that SGInnovate has invested in Singapore-based supply chain traceability platform DiMuto to help them drive further international expansion into markets such as Europe and Latin America in the next few months. Gary Loh, founder and chairman of DiMuto said that the investment will help the company to capitalise on its global growth momentum. To date, DiMuto has tagged more than 30m fruits and tracked and traced over US$100m worth of agri-food trades. It currently has a presence in seven countries including the US, China, Thailand, Australia and Mexico.