Deal Street Asia published an article based on an email interview with SGInnovate’s Head of Venture Investing, Hsien-Hui Tong, where he shared that foreign investors are getting more interested in Singapore’s deep tech startups specialising in AI, cleantech and quantum tech. While Singapore’s deep tech ecosystem is still at a nascent stage, the country has many aspects going in its favour, such as strong research institutes, IP protection and multiple global MNCs headquartered in Singapore. Mr Tong shared that what Singapore could have done better in investing in deep tech might have been to emphasise the translation of the research into not just IP to be leveraged by global MNCs and our GLCs, but also into startups who would further develop the IP into commercialisable businesses that could tackle difficult global challenges. While Singapore’s market is not as big or deep as the US or China, he noted that deep tech is a global, not local play. Given the small local market in Singapore, startups are immediately forced to think regional and global from day one. Of local founders, Mr Tong shared that one critique he would have of them would be their low perceived threshold of success.
The Business Times Online reported that Reefknot Investments, a joint venture between Temasek Holdings and Kuehne + Nagel, has launched its inaugural US$50 million global fund to invest in startups "at the forefront" of the logistics and supply chain industry. Its first fund will back six to eight startups in verticals such as AI, digital logistics and trade finance. Investee companies will gain business insights from Temasek, as well as the expertise of Kuehne + Nagel, a transport and logistics giant headquartered in Switzerland. Reefknot's venture ecosystem partners include EDBI, SGInnovate, Atlantic Bridge, Vertex Ventures, PSA unBoXed, Unilever Foundry and NUS Enterprise.
e27 reported that The Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) has announced the ninth cohort of its Australian Landing Pad in Singapore. Partnering with SGInnovate, Austrade seeks to recreate the success of the pad in graduating 38 startups that are now doing business in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam. The Australian Landing Pad in Singapore aims to bring scaleup opportunities to startups; in which it prided itself in bringing its startups to receive over US$17 million in follow-on funding. The Landing Pad programme provides market-ready startups and scaleup with potential for growth a cost-effective option to land and expand into global innovation hubs around the world such as San Francisco, Tel Aviv, Shanghai, Berlin, and Singapore.
Singapore Business Review reported that venture capitalists are looking to inject more funding into Deep Tech as the government strengthens its support system amidst a global tech shift. Deep Tech startups covering AI, BioTech, HealthTech and IoT dominated the eighth edition of Singapore Business Review’s hottest startups list with automotive marketplace Carro topping the list. It is followed by biotech startup RWDC and AI solutions provider AnyMind. Ramesh Raghavan, vice chairman of Business Angel Network of Southeast Asia (BANSEA), noted that HealthTech startups show a huge opportunity although FinTech still remains a huge focus for Singaporean investors, given Singapore’s status as a financial hub. The continued focus on FinTech firms is also being driven by government support, in particular, SGInnovate launched a financing scheme that will invest up to $80m over four years into tech-related verticals, in partnership with co-investment partners such as Golden Gate Ventures, Monk’s Hill Ventures, and Wavemaker Partners.
The Edge Singapore published an article on the talent gap in the deep tech landscape in Singapore. Since announcing its Smart Nation ambition in 2014, Singapore has launched national AI programme ‘AI Singapore’, along with government-owned agency, SGInnovate, which was tasked to invest in deep tech startups and build up Singapore’s tech ecosystem. MNCs and startups shared that local deep tech talents are hard to come by, especially those in experienced roles.
The Business Times featured an article based on an interview with Tong Hsien-Hui, Head of Venture Investing at SGInnovate, on the challenges that Deep Tech startups face beyond the early stage. According to Hsien-Hui, early funding stages tend to be well-taken care of because of the government’s strong push to commercialise more Deep Tech companies, but challenges arise from the Series B stage onwards when the needs of the business are beyond what can be funded by its founders and early-stage investors. A Deep Tech investments white paper published by SGInnovate found that investors remain cautious about the Deep Tech sector despite the compelling proposition of defensible technologies paired with smart business models. More work needs to be done to educate limited partners on the potential of returns in the sector. As Singapore’s startup ecosystem matures, it is important that Deep Tech funding comes from local investors as well. Hsien-Hui added that while foreign investment is welcome, investors might bring the company to where the returns are best and be agnostic to national interest.