SEEDS Capital seeks co-investors to dole out S$150m to deep-tech startups

ARMED with up to S$150 million from the Startup SG Equity scheme, SEEDS Capital is on the lookout for more co-investors to back early-stage, deep-tech startups in the Republic.

During Budget 2020 in February, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said that the government will set aside an additional S$300 million under the Startup SG Equity co-investment scheme to catalyse investment into deep-tech startups.

As these startups need larger investments and longer gestation periods, and face higher risks, investors are less prepared to invest in them, he said.

The additional S$300 million allocated to Startup SG Equity is expected to draw more than S$800 million of private funding over the next decade, Mr Heng added.

For this scheme, SEEDS Capital - the investment arm of Enterprise Singapore (ESG) - aims to appoint between 10 and 15 private-sector partners to invest into these early-stage, deep-tech Singapore startups over the next five to eight years. It has launched a call-for-partnership (CFP), hoping to broaden, diversify and refresh its current pool of 30 active co-investment partners.

Ted Tan, chairman of SEEDS Capital and ESG's deputy chief executive officer, said: "Through the co-investments with these private-sector partners, we hope to provide the appropriate guidance and resources that will enable deep-tech startups to succeed in developing new and disruptive technologies that can help our enterprises emerge stronger."

SEEDS Capital has three deep-tech sectors - advanced manufacturing and engineering, health and biomedical sciences, as well as urban solutions and sustainability.

These sectors are in line with Singapore's Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2020 Technology Domains, which aim to increase Singapore's research capabilities, as well as support economic growth in key focus areas such as digital health, agri-food tech, urban mobility and logistics & supply chain that have emerged due to Covid-19.

SEEDS Capital is seeking partners who can identify and co-invest in Singapore-based, early-stage deep-tech startups in these three sectors, provide hands-on assistance in helping these startups fast-track commercialisation, as well as connect them with potential clients globally.

The CFP will open on Dec 7 and is set to close on Jan 17 next year. Interested parties can submit proposals to Locals, as well as foreign parties with a presence in Singapore, are welcome to apply.

Singapore has some 3,800 technology startups, and about 150 venture capital funds are investing in startups in the city-state and in the region.