Venture Capital arms of the Singapore Government

Singapore is the most competitive nation within ASEAN. There are two reasons explaining her success.

Betty Ho, analyst

Singapore is the most competitive nation within ASEAN. One of the key reasons explaining her success is the foresight of its leaders and the Government. Apart from the GIC and Temasek, other smaller investments arms under the Government are less well-known.

EDB Investments (EDBI)

EDB Investments “EDBI” is a private equity and venture capital arm of Singapore Economic Development Board specialising in startups to growth capital, mezzanine, bridge, buyins, buyouts, turnaround, and restructuring investments in high growth oriented companies. The firm prefers to invest in biomedical sciences, smart and sustainable technology, information and communications technology, industry clusters, clean technologies and digital media.

There are two funds in EDBI that provides 2 directions

-Cluster Development Fund (> US$700 million) – This fund invests to strengthen industry clusters in Singapore. Simply put, if a firm can add value to an industry in Singapore, they will consider it.

-Regional Investment where EDBI invests in regional enterprises to acquire new technologies, markets, business models, and networks.

Prior to this, EDBI also operated Singapore Bio-Innovations Pte Ltd and the Startup Enterprise Development Scheme (SEEDS). In its history, majority of EDBI’s investments went into IT and healthcare.

Investments split by industry

Investments split by geography

The chart below shows EDBI’s investment schedule. Years 2011 and 2016 were its highest in terms of investment value.

Recent investments

In March 2017, Hedvig, Inc. announced that it has received US$21.5 million in funding from EDB Investments Pte. Ltd., Atlantic Bridge Capital, True Ventures, Vertex Ventures, Hewlett Packard Ventures. Hedvig, Inc. develops a cloud based software defined storage system. The company was formerly known as Quexascale, Inc. Hedvig, Inc. was incorporated in 2012 and is based in Santa Clara, California.

In February 2017, Lytro, Inc. announced that it has received US$60 million in funding from a group of investors. Lytro, Inc. develops consumer light field cameras. Its products are used in photography, cinematography, mixed reality, scientific, and industrial applications.

In February 2017, Connexions Asia Pte. Ltd. announced that it has received S$35 million (US$24.90 million) in funding from BioVeda Capital, NSI Ventures, RGAx LLC, B Capital Group, EDB Investments Pte. Ltd., and another investor. Connexions Asia Pte. Ltd. provides group insurance brokerage services in Singapore.

Infocomm Investments Pte Ltd. (IIPL)

IIPL is an accelerator and the venture capital arm of Singapore Infocomm Development Authority (IDA). The firm is an accelerator specialising in startups investment. It seeks to invest in companies and projects in Asia-Pacific and the world, that will build up Singapore’s infocomm industry. The firm typically invests between S$1 and S$5 million (US$3.56 million). Most of IIPL’s investments are in the IT sector.

Investments split by industry

Investments split by geography

62% of IIPL’s investments are captured in Asia Pacific region, and close to 28% in North America.

IIPL has a credible following. JAFCO Investment (Asia Pacific) Ltd has followed IIPL investing 4 times in these companies – Bubbly Inc, Data Security Systems Solutions Pte Ltd, Dilithium Inc, Mobilewalla.

500 Startups has invested together with IIPL 3 times in these companies – Gengo, Inc, Glints Intern Pte Ltd, and Twilio Inc. (NYSE:TWLO). In short, IIPL seems to have its game right in identifying targets that caught the eyes of bigger VC firms.

IIPL has invested largely in companies of two smaller incubators: The Joyful Frog Digital Incubator and Entrepreneurs First. This questions whether IIPL is looking for winners from a sufficiently diversified source.

Recent investments

In August 2016, TabSquare Pte Ltd announced that it has received S$3.5 million (US$2.49 million) in funding from Walden International, Infocomm Investments Pte Ltd., Phillip Private Equity Pte Ltd, Raging Bull Pte Ltd. TabSquare Pte Ltd offers cloud-based restaurant management and customer engagement technology platform for the food and beverage industry.

In September 2016, Glints Intern Pte Ltd. announced that it has received S$2 million (US$1.42 million) in funding from a group of investors. Glints Intern Pte Ltd. operates an online platform to provide internship and graduate job opportunities in Singapore.

Singapore National Research Foundation (SNRF)

SNRF is a lesser known investment entity. A good majority of their portfolio is vested in IT.

Investments split by industry

The ordinary man cannot easily differentiate SNRF’s strategy from IIPL’s strategy. Both seems to be heavily focused on IT sector. Here’s a sample of companies under SNRF’s portfolio – Askabt Pte. Ltd, Catch That Bus Sdn. Bhd, CloudDesk Pte Ltd, iTwin Pte. Ltd, CreoPop Pte Ltd, MoneySmart and TabSquare Pte Ltd.

Notable investment

In September 2013, Shop Your World Pte Ltd announced that it has received an undisclosed amount in its series A round of funding led by SNRF. The round saw participation from iGlobe Partners and Wavemaker Labs. Shop Your World Pte Ltd. operates as an online shopping company. It sells books; movies, music, and games; mobile phones; computers, parts, and accessories; electronics; fashion clothing and accessories; kids’ items and toys; groceries, health and beauty products, and pet supplies; sports goods; and home appliances.

In 2013, MoneySmart announced that it has received S$589,000 (US$422,000) in its seed round of funding. The transaction included participation from new investors Golden Gate Ventures and Singapore National Research Foundation. MoneySmart provides a platform that allows consumers to compare loans, insurance products, and credit cards.

SPRING SEEDS Capital (SEEDS)

SEEDS is the venture capital arm of SPRING Singapore that specialises in startup investments. The firm focuses on the medical technology sector. It seeks to invest in Singapore and Israeli firms that will enter Singapore.

SEEDS’s portfolio mirrors that of EDBI, showing a large majority of investments in IT and healthcare. Most agencies under the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Singapore are making the same bets, albeit, in different sizes.

Investments split by industry

SEEDS invests between 2 to 4 deals a year. Among SEEDs’ notable investments, MyPAY and Fastacash Pte Ltd stands out. In 2016, Fastacash sought to be listed in Australia. At this moment, the firm is not listed yet. SEEDS has made about 18 transactions between 2008 and 2017.

Notable investment

In October 2013, Fastacash Pte. Ltd announced that it has received US$3 million in its series A round of funding. The transaction was led by new investors Jungle Ventures, SPRING SEEDS Capital Pte Ltd, and existing investor Funding the Future. Other investors also participated in the transaction. Fastacash Pte. Ltd. provides fastacash, a social/global payment platform that allows users to transfer monetary value and content through social networks enabling secure peer–to–peer transactions Singapore and internationally.

The Singapore Government is deeply involved in investing for the future. Notably, there may be more than 4 investment entities in Government (URA Singapore has an investment arm as well). At a glance, the 4 investment arms are heavily overweight in IT.

All source: Google Finance