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.”
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.
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.
The Business Times Online reported that according to ESG, venture investors have poured S$13.4 billion into local startups in the first three quarters of 2019, a 36 percent increase from 2018. Government efforts spurred deal-making activity, such as the Startup SG Equity scheme, where the government makes co-investments with the private sector into startups in nascent industries. For instance, SEEDS Capital and SGInnovate, both administrators of Startup SG Equity, invested in 56 deals in the first three quarters of 2019. Amid global megatrends such as ageing, urbanisation and climate change, more VC firms are paying attention to deep tech, with S$416.4 million being put into deep tech deals, specifically in advanced manufacturing, urban solutions and sustainability and healthcare and biomedical sciences, marking a 25 percent increase YoY. Committed to growing the deep tech investment scene, ESG and MAS have started conducting deal-making sessions called Deal Fridays, which has seen the generation of over 200 leads through the 15 sessions to date.
The Straits Times featured an article on the front page of its ‘Business’ section, based on an exclusive interview with Steve Leonard on the milestones that SGInnovate has achieved since its inception almost three years ago. Steve shared that SGInnovate has invested $40 million into 70 local and foreign deep tech startups which have gone on to attract $450 million of funding from the market. He added that fewer than 10 percent of the startups that SGInnovate has backed “haven’t made it”, which is in stark contrast to the 90 percent failure rate in general startup statistics. Steve attributed the high survival rate to the “level of seriousness” that these startups have at the outset. Besides nurturing startups, SGInnovate has also built up a 30,000-member deep tech community, with more than 100 people attending each of its 20 events a month.