#Asia Companies announced for Singapore NRF’s US$29M venture capital fund


CapitaLand Limited, DeClout Limited, Wilmar International Limited and YCH Group Pte. Ltd. will participate in the latest iteration of the NRF’s Early Stage Venture Fund


Professor Low Teck Seng (third from left) stands with representatives from CapitaLand, DeClout Limited, Wilmar International Limited and YCH Group

As reported by e27 on Friday, Singapore’s National Research Foundation has launched the third installment of its Early Stage Venture Fund (ESVFIII), committing S$40 million (US$29.2 million) to four venture capital fund on a matching basis.

Today, at the Innovfest Unbound 2016 event, the NRF revealed the four companies involved in the scheme. Each business is committed S$10 million (US$7.3 million) by the government agency.

What is immediately apparent is the companies are from a wide-range of industries and sectors. Professor Low Teck Seng, CEO of NRF, said the agency was agnostic about the area of focus.

“As it turns out, we had interesting companies that came forth in quite different areas. Before we started we thought we would attract some large corporations from what we call ‘traditional sciences and technology areas’ — science and technology and such. But as it turns out we had interesting companies come forth from quite different areas… We were just looking for good proposals.”

The four large local enterprises (LLEs) are as follows.

CapitaLand Limited

The large real estate company known for the development of malls, will focus on funding startups ranging from design, construction, operations, sales and leasing.

“As a market leader with scale and depth across the entire real estate value chain, it is incumbent on CapitaLand to continually leverage on technology to develop the real estate of the future – integrated and interconnected smart buildings as well as seamless online and offline customer experiences,” said Ng Kok Siong, Chief Corporate Development Officer of CapitaLand Limited in separate announcement.

The company cited CAPITASTAR and Food-to-Go in Raffles City as examples of a history of digital ventures.

DeClout Limited

A company that already fits into the Singapore startup scene, DeClout is an incubator and venture builder of e-commerce, marketplace, cloud and data centre companies.

“We believe ESVFIII will allow DeClout to play an important enabling role in assisting early-stage tech companies in the digital economy space…we look forward to incubating the next generation of tech start-ups that will put Singapore on the world map of emerging technologies,” say Lim Swee Yong, Head of Corporate Office at DeClout in a statement.

Wilmar International Limited

Wilmar is a high-tech agribusiness company and one of the largest listed companies by market capitalisation listed on the Singapore Exchange index.

To give an idea, according to its website the company is the, “World’s largest processor and merchandiser of palm and lauric oils, manufacturer of oleochemicals, specialty fats, palm biodiesel and consumer pack oils as well as crusher of palm kernel and copra crusher.”

The company is looking for technologies that impact agriculture, food, human, animal health and industrial biotechnology.

“We believe there is potential for Singapore to grow in AgriFood BioTech which is an area ripe for an explosion in innovation given the growing affluence and changing consumption patterns in Asia,” said Professor Chua Nam-Hai, Chief Scientific Advisor at Wilmar in a statement.

YCH Group Pte Ltd.

YCH group is a logistics chain company in Singapore looking for startups that can ‘Uberise’ logistics, maximise capital utilisation, innovate in 3D printing technologies and offer solutions in Big Data, robotics and fintech.

The corporate venture arm will be called Supply Chain Angels.

“YCH is committed to contributing to the growth of the supply chain startup environment by equipping its players with the right technical, operational and knowledge capabilities. We look forward to the creation of innovative products that can be scaled and used in Singapore and other countries,” said Executive Chairman Dr. Robert Yap in a separate announcement.

Also Read: A sunrise industry: Singapore’s YCH Group launches US$7.3M venture fund for logistics startups

Professor Low, when asked by e27 about lessons learned from the other two ESVF experiences, Low said,

“The outcomes from these earlier partnerships have been very good. Ninja Van exploded onto the scene and raised a very substantial amount. So very exciting. We learned in the earlier investments a lot investments went to the ICT area. So for us, it was an interesting change for the ESVFIII because the corporates that came in were from quite different areas. They are looking for opportunities to transform themselves.”

The official announcement was made by Singapore Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation Initiative Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan at the keynote Innovfest unBound opening address.

“What we want to tell these LLE’s is we want you to scan the horizon, identify small startups which may have novel, potentially transformative, technology in [the corporate’s] industry.

Eat their dog food. Try it out. And if it works, you gain,” he said.

Also Read: This founder went from cybersecurity to beauty e-commerce – this is what he learned

Launched in July 2008, the Early Stage Venture Fund scheme aims to transform public research into tangible products, services and businesses to create an economic and societal impact.

The first round of the scheme dedicated S$50 million (US$36.6 million) to the four new VCs (Bioveda Capital, Extream Ventures, New Asia Investments, Raffles Venture Partners) along with another fund for Walden International.

The second round, in April 2014, also seeded S$50 million (US$36.6 million) to VCs. The latest fund included Golden Gate Ventures, Jungle Ventures, Monk’s Hill Ventures, Tembusu ICT Fund I as well as Walden International.

Notable success stories via the fund include the acquisition of HungryGoWhere by Singtel in 2012, the US$30 million Series B raised by NinjaVan in April 2016 and the acquisition of Brandtology by Media Monitors in 2011.

Photo by Kevin McSpadden


The post Companies announced for Singapore NRF’s US$29M venture capital fund appeared first on e27.

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