The Straits Times Online reported that according to Dr Wong Poh Kam, director of NUS Entrepreneurship Centre, while there was not enough government funding in supporting deep tech startups in Singapore, the launch of SGInnovate marks a step towards the right direction. SGInnovate was launched to help develop niche areas that require deep technical expertise and plays a vital role in helping deep tech startups grow into globally successful companies. Addressing a panel at the seventh Asian Entrepreneurship Award (AEA), Dr Wong said that more investment in higher-risk sectors working on deep technology will be required for Singapore’s startup scene to mature and develop critical expertise. He also believes that too much government money is going into supporting very general startups, which could be bad because too much easy money spoils the market with too many startups that might not deserve funding. The AEA is a Japanese startup pitch contest in Kashiwa-no-ha smart city, which first started in 2012. In 2017, the second-prize winner was ViSenze, a Singapore startup providing AI-based visual search and image recognition services.
SGC Business Magazine published an editorial contribution by Steve Leonard on the startup landscape in Singapore. Steve highlighted that while Singapore is helping drive some of ASEAN’s booming digital economy, most startups in Singapore are building businesses around consumer-facing technology. He emphasised the importance for Singapore to create startups that pursue ‘deep tech’ products and how SGInnovate was formed to tackle the challenges faced by these startups such as the lack of investment, the scarcity of talent and the long gestation period for commercialisation.
e27 reported that Singapore-based influencer marketing platform Affable announced that it has raised S$1 million in seed funding round led by Decacorn Capital. The funding round also includes the participation of SGInnovate through its Startup SG Equity scheme, making Affable the first startup to get funded under the scheme, which aims to “stimulate and accelerate” private investments into local startups with intellectual property and global market potential. Affable uses AI to identify authentic micro-influencers, allowing brands and marketing agencies to engage with relevant influencers and analyse their marketing campaigns.
MoneyFM 89.3 conducted a live radio interview with Steve Leonard, Founding CEO of SGInnovate. During the interview, Steve gave a brief introduction and background of SGInnovate and reasons for its focus on deep tech. He shared some of the milestones that SGInnovate has achieved since the launch – investing in 29 startups, built a network of more than 1,000 technical individuals interested in joining early-stage tech companies, created and hosted more than 100 events at its premises attracting a total of 9,000 participants. He also addressed some of the challenges typically faced by deep tech startups, such as funding and talent.
Singapore moves into deep tech and is investing in transformational technologies. SGInnovate Founding CEO Steve Leonard looks into how Singapore seeks to navigate these uncharted waters.
SGInnovate today announced that it has appointed 17 co-investors under the Startup SG Equity scheme that will collectively identify and co-invest with it in early-stage deep tech startups. The criteria will see them invest in areas prioritised in Singapore’s Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2020 Plan or RIE2020, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Blockchain.
SGInnovate is managing a portion of the fund under this scheme, which is aimed at accelerating the growth of deep tech startups. The total value for investments that would be made alongside these co-investors could potentially reach up to S$80 million ($59.1 million) over the next four years.
Beyond the capital infusion, SGInnovate expects startup ventures under this scheme to “benefit from the strategic and management guidance provided by SGInnovate and the co-investors” “Deep technology startups typically have a longer roadmap for development and commercialization, and this may discourage some private sector VCs whose LPs expect shorter-term returns,” said Steve Leonard, Founding CEO, SGInnovate.