Tech in Asia reported that Singapore-based healthtech startup Lucence has raised US$20 million in a series A round led by global healthcare provider IHH Healthcare, with participation from SGInnovate and Heliconia Capital, amongst others. Lucence, which is a spinoff from A*Star in 2016, uses liquid biopsy, a blood-based technology that’s less invasive than tissue biopsies, to help clinicians analyse a tumour and make treatment decisions. The new funds will enable the company to reach more patients across Asia and North America, and the company is planning to embark on new prospective clinical studies to evaluate its technology for early detection of multiple cancers.
Purdue Exponent featured an article on Starship Technologies’ robots, which roamed the campus of Purdue University delivering snacks, drinks and meals to buildings and outdoor locations. Henry Harris-Burland, Vice President of Marketing of Starship Technologies, shared that the robots use computer vision, sensor fusion and machine learning to travel autonomously on sidewalks and while the technology is advanced, they do sometimes get stuck at busy intersections or crowded streets, which is when human operators take over. According to Mr Harris-Buland, the company plans to launch the robots on 100 college campuses in the next 24 months and continue to provide a great delivery service for students, staff and faculty.
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.
Silicon Republic reported that Dublin and Boston-based MedTech HealthBeacon has welcomed two new strategic investors, SGInnovate and US firm Manatt, closing its Series A funding round with the company’s total amount raised standing at $15 million. According to Hsien-Hui Tong, Head of Venture Investing at SGInnovate, “Medical non-adherence places a significant burden on healthcare systems. HealthBeacon’s use of smart tools to tackle this global challenge resonates well with SGInnovate’s belief in investing in best-in-class deep tech tackling difficult problems faced around the world.” This investment also marks the first healthcare investment between SGInnovate and Enterprise Ireland.
Deal Street Asia featured an article based on interviews with industry experts and startup founders, including responses from an email interview with Pang Heng Soon, Head of Venture Building at SGInnovate, on the funding struggles that Southeast Asian Deep Tech startups are facing. Although the region is awash with venture money, Deep Tech startups are seeing little of it. To illustrate the laggard of Deep Tech startup growth, the article featured a graph from the SGInnovate Insights paper, “Deep Tech Investments: Realising the potential”, showing that the percentage of Deep Tech startups continue to hover around 5-6 percent for the last 15 years. Heng Soon highlighted that while there are strong and consistent investments from the public sectors in areas like AI, MedTech, Quantum Computing and agrifood tech, he wishes to see a better rate of investments from the VC community. Meanwhile, the lack of risk-on investing among VCs is being filled up by the Singapore Government. Rohit Jha, CEO and co-founder of Transcelestial, said that government-backed agencies like Enterprise SG have shown themselves willing to take early bets. He added that seed investors should lead the rounds, which will make the biggest difference for a Deep Tech company trying to get off the ground.
SCMP featured an article on how Singapore has transformed itself into a regional tech hub. According to Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran, the transformation of Singapore is thanks to “enabling conditions”, such as business-friendly policies, a coordinated approach between IHLs with private companies to provide a trained workforce, and a high quality of life to attract globally-mobile entrepreneurs and top-grade talent who can call anywhere home. Singapore has also shifted its focus from a knowledge-based economy in the early 2000s to a focus on deep tech. As part of Singapore’s move into deep tech, the government slated S$19 billion as investment capital to build the country into a global R&D hub, and in 2016 set up SGInnovate to nurture deep tech startups in the country. In March, an additional S$500 million was set aside to expand investments into AI, national supercomputing and robotics programmes, as well as cell therapy and food technology. Today, there is also a deep pool of private capital willing to back startups. Thanks to the government’s matching and co-financing schemes, early VC funds were attracted to Singapore, and that pool of capital is now well-placed to invest in the multibillion-dollar Southeast Asia market.