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 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.
e27 published a list of the 9 most notable seed funding rounds in August 2019. Logistics and supply chain continued to be a popular theme in 2019 with investments into startups such as AllSome and Logisly. The F&B industry also remained popular with investments into AI Palette, Abillionveg, and Hungry Hub. Ai Palette received US$1 million in seed funding from investors Decacorn Capital, SGInnovate, AgFunder, Entrepreneur First along with other individual investors.
Xinhua Net published an interview with Steve Leonard, founding CEO of SGInnovate, where he shared that AI would be able to solve some of the big problems the world has. According to him, AI should be viewed as a set of tools which are both inevitable and important. Steve pointed out that while there’s a lot of technology focussed on consumer convenience, he believed that we need to be utilising tools such as AI to deal with hard problems and life or death problems. To that end, SGInnovate has invested in one Australian deep tech company, See-Mode, which uses computer vision and AI tools to run a series of models that gives us new insights and helps us know more accurately the people we have to keep a special eye on or to provide a different level of care for. Steve added that Australia is moving forward and has the opportunity to be a significant leader in AI technology.
Australian Financial Review published an article based on an interview with SGInnovate’s Founding CEO, Steve Leonard, who is in Australia this week meeting with Victorian state government officials and local Deep Tech startups, setting up networks down under to help support local scientists looking to commercialise research so they can do business with Singapore. While Steve doesn’t disclose the size of SGInnovate’s fund, the organisation has deployed AU$42 million in capital into about 65 investments since its launch, which has gone on to raise another AU$458 million. Because most of the companies SGInnovate backs are pre-revenue and usually don’t have a business plan, the team bases the investment decisions on the personalities and experience of the founders. “Talking far-edge, Deep Tech, it’s about as deep as you can get. We have no idea if it’s going to be successful or not, we can’t sit down and calculate the probabilities, but we believe in the founders… and if they’re right it will be something we’re sitting down chatting about in 10 years,” he said. Two Deep Tech startups with presence in the Australia market that SGInnovate has backed are computer vision company See-Mode, and non-chemical water purification company Hydroleap.