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.
Fintechnews Singapore published an article with a 2018 info-map of the AI startups in Singapore. The Singapore government has been proactive in their efforts in AI, with MAS announcing a US$27 million grant for the technology in the previous year. Aside from the MAS, SGInnovate has also been seen doubling down on AI with their investments into deep tech startups. The article highlights several AI startups in Singapore that are active in the fintech and finance space, with SGInnovate portfolio companies AIDA and Evie being mentioned.
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.
The Straits Times Online reported on SGInnovate's investment in MediLOT Technologies for an undisclosed amount as part of its strategy to develop research-based deep tech start-ups. Based in Singapore, MediLOT Technologies is built on blockchain, AI and database management system technologies for patients, healthcare practitioners, and oganisations, giving them access to private and secure health data for better diagnoses and effective treatments. MediLOT is the first Blockchain and Healthcare Analytics company in Singapore that SGInnovate has invested in, which is in line with its mission to help develop high potential companies with products that will have global impact.
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.
Ming Pao published an article from an interview with Steve Leonard at the GREAT Festival of Innovation Hong Kong, on Smart Cities and the role of SGInnovate in Singapore. The article gave a brief introduction of SGInnovate and highlighted the organisation’s role in developing Singapore’s deep tech ecosystem, guided by its Deep Tech Nexus strategy. In the interview, Steve brought up the point that many research scientists are not familiar with bringing their research into commercialisation, and how SGInnovate is keen to work with researchers with the right technical skills to build something that is of high impact to the world. On the question of whether Hong Kong is too late in the AI race, Steve pointed out that Hong Kong has the capabilities to catch up with the rest of the competition. He highlighted Hong Kong’s good universities, investment capital in the ecosystem, ambition and talent, and that what it needs crucially, is a working relationship between its citizens and the government.