SINGAPORE: Four large local enterprises (LLEs) have each been awarded S$10 million in venture capital funds by the National Research Foundation (NRF) to invest in local tech start-ups, in the third instalment of NRF's Early Stage Venture Fund (ESVF).
Under this scheme, the NRF will match investments by LLEs in technology start-ups on a 1:1 basis, up to S$10 million,for a total of S$40 million in this instalment. The four selected LLEs are: CapitaLand, DeClout, Wilmar International and YCH Group.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister-in-Charge of the Smart Nation initiative, Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan, made the announcement at the opening of InnovFest unBound 2016.
He said the key message of this scheme is to encourage these LLEs to partner local start-ups, and added that it will be a “win-win” for both parties.
"What we want to tell these large local enterprises is, we want you to go and scan the horizon, identify small start-ups which may have novel, potentially transformative ideas in your industry. Eat their dog food, test it out, and if it works, you gain."
The scheme aims to encourage these LLEs to engage in corporate venturing to source for technologies and business models, while giving start-ups the opportunity to tap on the mentorship, resources and networks of the LLEs.
“If I am a start-up looking to partner large local enterprises, I can look forward to the infrastructure they can provide me, the networks they bring along with them, either from the supply chain angle or the market angle, and that’s very important,” said NRF CEO Prof Low Teck Seng. “Very often, as a start-up, I am looking to see how I can scale up as quickly as possible if I have already proven my worth.”
Prof Low added that NRF is heartened by the response from the LLEs. “We saw many many big companies coming forth wanting to partner us … The four companies we’ve selected are very exciting in different areas. They have a variety of attributes that they bring forth into the ecosystem, and hopefully we will be able to attract more corporations to come into this space.”
CapitaLand will match the NRF grant 3:2, which means they will put S$15 million into the fund to match the S$10 million from NRF, according to the company’s Chief Corporate Development Officer, Mr Ng Kok Siong.
“We’re looking at design management, materials engineering, operations maintenance, energy and customer experience online and offline,” said Mr Ng.
“So I think, looking at the start-ups, we have green technology … Customer experience and e-commerce guys are relevant, some of the hospitality guys, so I think there’s a pool for us to take from.”