Advanced technology start-ups in line for Singapore funds

ASEAN+ July 18, 2017 01:00

By THE STRAITS TIMES
ASIA NEWS NETWORK
SINGAPORE

UP TO HALF of the funds in the Singaporean government’s Startup SG Equity scheme could be set aside for start-ups working in the sectors of advanced manufacturing and engineering, health and biomedical sciences, and urban solutions and sustainability.



That could mean around S$100 million (Bt 2.46 billion) going to what are known as deep technology firms exploring opportunities in these areas, Spring Singapore’s investment arm announced Sunday.

Spring Seeds Capital is on the hunt for co-investment partners and will match their capital injections into business models built around proprietary technology or research.

Foo Tiang Lim, an operating partner at venture capital firm Seed Plus, said: “The reality for start-ups working on solving problems in the areas identified is that the gestation period is too long. That means having more support in terms of patient capital will be crucial.”

It was announced in March that about $200 million would be set aside for Startup SG Equity. The programme replaced Spring Singapore’s Business Angel Scheme, where the government matched investments dollar for dollar up to $2 million.

Under the new scheme, Spring Seeds Capital will sink up to $4 million in each deep tech start-up. It will chip in 70 per cent – or $350,000 – of the first $500,000 invested, with its partners accounting for 30 per cent, or $150,000. Spring will then co-invest 50 per cent of any further funds injected, up to its limit of $4 million. This is twice as much as what general tech start-ups can get. Co-investment partners will be expected to help early-stage start-ups through commercialisation.

The three sectors were chosen for their high potential for growth, as well as their economic and social impact, Spring said.

Matthew Waterhouse, chief executive of additive manufacturers 3D Matters and 3D Metalforge, welcomed the initiative: “Funding (needs) for deep tech companies tend to be higher ... so targeting these home-grown sectors for extra support makes a lot of sense.”

Theodore Tan, co-founder and managing director of biomedical incubator The Biofactory, added that co-investment is just the first step for deep tech and called for start-up bourses as a fund-raising alternative to venture capital.

“People should be able to take that risk,” he said.

Spring’s call for partners opens today and runs until August 25, with briefings for interested parties on Wednesday and Friday.