The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) is investing $650,000 in seed funding for tech startups to develop innovative solutions to address key maritime challenges in Singapore, MPA and NUS Enterprise announced yesterday.
The Straits Times Online reported that Singapore-based cleantech firm SensorFlow has raised US$2.7 million in series A funding led by private investor Pierre Lorinet, along with contributions from existing investor, Singapore-based Cocoon Capital. Cocoon Capital led the startup's initial seed funding round in 2018, with SGInnovate and SparkLabs adding support through the Entrepreneur First accelerator programme. The startup aims to provide Asian hotels with a smart wireless Internet of Things solution to monitor, analyse and automate hotel room environments with the aim of optimising energy efficiency and enhancing guest experience. Wireless sensors are used to collect real-time data and AI to automate decision-making. Sensorflow said that its solutions have delivered up to 30 percent in energy savings and up to a 40 percent reduction in maintenance costs.
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.