The Edge Singapore published an article on the talent gap in the deep tech landscape in Singapore. Since announcing its Smart Nation ambition in 2014, Singapore has launched national AI programme ‘AI Singapore’, along with government-owned agency, SGInnovate, which was tasked to invest in deep tech startups and build up Singapore’s tech ecosystem. MNCs and startups shared that local deep tech talents are hard to come by, especially those in experienced roles.
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.
The Business Times Online reported that HealthTech startups in Singapore have attracted US$105 million across 21 deals in 2018, according to a report by HealthTech researcher Galen Growth Asia in collaboration with EDB. Overall, investment value in the Asia Pacific totalled US$6.3 billion across 294 deals, with Singapore making up 24 percent of the total deal value in Asia (excluding China and India). Prominent startups include Biofourmis, which clinched US$35 million in a Series B round led by Sequoia India and MassMutual Ventures SEA. In 2018, 58 investors invested into Singapore-based health tech startups and noteworthy Singapore-based investors included SGInnovate, with four investments, and Heritas Venture Fund, Venturecraft and Wavemaker Partners, with two investments each.