Singapore’s NRF awards S$40million to four local enterprises to invest in tech start-ups

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InnovFest unBound, the anchor event in the Smart Nation Innovations 2016 began today to a packed audience at the Marina Bay Sands. InnovFest unBound is an innovation festival and digital conference that showcases Asian innovations and presents the latest in disruptive technologies that have the potential to change the world. It is being held from May 17-18th with about 350 tech innovations and start-up exhibits on display, and an expected 3,000 global participants.

In his opening speech, Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation Initiative announced that Singapore’s National Research Foundation will partner with four large local enterprises (LLEs) who will receive venture capital funds to invest in innovative local tech start-ups, under their Early Stage Venture Fund Scheme (ESVF).

As a part of the third instalment of NRF’s Early Stage Venture Fund (ESVFlll) NRF has committed S$10million per fund on a matching basis, to invest in technology start-ups in Singapore. This means for every dollar invested by LLEs in local tech startups, the government led by NRF will put in an equal amount.

They hope that this will encourage LLEs to engage in corporate venturing to source for innovative technologies and business models as part of their overall corporate strategy, and in the process improve their innovation capacity. In return, the start-ups can scale up by leveraging on the LLEs mentorship, resources and networks.

On the award of the venture capital funds to the four LLEs, Professor Low Teck Seng, CEO of NRF said: “NRF is committed to helping Singapore enterprises nurture their research and development capabilities, deepen their innovative efforts through technology adoption and development, and meet our national needs. EVSFlll seeks to do this by linking large local enterprises with technology start-ups so that both can benefit from each other’s capabilities. We are confident that the strengthening of such linkages will create value for our economy, and more good jobs and opportunities for Singaporeans.”

This year four LLEs have been awarded the venture capital funds namely CapitaLand Limited, DeClout Limited, YCH Group Pte. Ltd and Wilmar International Limited.

Wilmar International Limited, which is Asia’s leading agribusiness group will channel their corporate venture capital funds on technologies that have the potential to cause a wide disruptive impact on agriculture, food, human and animal health and industrial biotechnology. These include: Agricultural genetics for enhancement of yield and resilience, plantation management tools including software, drones, satellite and big data technology, future foods, flavourings and flavours ingredients, technology to improve route to market including supply chain management and e-commerce, nutrition, novel manufacturing processes for food and oleochemicals, diagnostic and monitoring tools and sensors.

Speaking to the media, Dr. Low, the CEO of NRF explained further, “We are partnering these companies to allow them to enter the space and to see how we can actually translate the technologies and the sciences that we fund in the research base to get it out into the markets. So, it’s a question of how do you realise value from the investments you have made in science and technology. So by realising value, we actually capture value for Singapore. “