ESG sets aside over S$55m for local agriculture, aquaculture firms

ENTERPRISE Singapore (ESG) has set aside over S$55 million to accelerate the growth of promising local agriculture and aquaculture companies by "developing their innovation capabilities to grow more with less" (see amendment note).

The funding is part of the government agency's efforts to develop an agri-food tech ecosystem in the Republic that uses innovation and scalable solutions to meet evolving needs, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon said at a ministerial visit to precision agritech startup Singrow on Friday.

Growing more with less refers to using modern technologies that enable food producers to develop climate-resilient, resource-efficient and high-yield farming solutions for densely built-up environments.

ESG has been supporting local food producers in the development and adoption of these technologies by launching initiatives to support the growth of the agri-food tech startup ecosystem and drive deep tech commercialisation, it said.

It added that the agri-food sector "remains a bright spot amid Covid-19", with Singapore's strong innovation climate and supporting infrastructure making the Republic a conducive place for agri-food technologies to take root.

ESG's six accelerators under the Startup SG Accelerator programme are expected to groom over 150 agri-food tech startups over the next three years, the agency said.

The accelerators - Big Idea Ventures, GROW, Hatch Blue, The Yield Lab, Trendlines Agrifood Innovation Centre and Temasek Life Sciences Accelerator – nurture and mentor startups in fundraising, product development, commercialisation and internationalisation.

In January, ESG's investment arm, SEEDS Capital, appointed seven co-investment partners to catalyse over S$90 million worth of investments into early-stage agri-food tech startups.

ESG deputy chief executive Ted Tan said the additional funding would boost national food resilience and strengthen agri-food tech companies' global competitiveness as they build their capabilities and scale up.

"There is an urgency for our agriculture and aquaculture companies to leverage agri-food technologies to address the growing demand locally as well as globally," he said.

"We will also continue to support agri-food tech startups and the use of disruptive innovation to future-proof food production in Asia. The current Covid-19 situation has underscored the importance of this, amid the disruptions observed across the global food supply chain," Mr Tan added.

Amendment note: A previous version of this story stated that ESG's more than S$55 million funding is meant for startups. It is in fact meant for promising agriculture and aquaculture companies.