Here is the monthly round-up of recent startup-related news and upcoming events in Singapore for August 2016.

Government Initiatives

SPRING Singapore’s MOU with Texas

SPRING, Singapore’s enterprise growth agency (which comes under the Ministry of Trade and Industry) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on July 14, 2016 with The City of Austin in Texas. The MOU aims to facilitate the expansion of startups between Singapore and Austin and to extend support to entrepreneurs who wish to set up a business in Singapore and vice versa. The Austin Asian Chamber will assist entrepreneurs with easy access to attorneys, accountants, digital marketers etc. This MOU will be useful for Singapore incorporated companies to venture out into US cities such as Austin and expand their business.

Investments in Seed-Stage Startups

Business Angel Network South East Asia (BANSEA), an angel investing network is partnering with Infocomm Investment Pte Ltd (IIPL), a subsidiary investment arm of The Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) of Singapore to fund potential seed-stage startups in Singapore. BANSEA was founded in 2001 and aims to connect angel investors with startups that are in need of investment and mentoring. BANSEA conducts workshops, educational and networking events with angel investors around the world. The partnership is a part of the BANSEA One project that was launched on June 6, 2016. BANSEA plans to invest in five to ten startups over the next one year and will invest an amount of approximately $37,000 in each startup.The startup must be either already registered or planning to register as a Singapore company. Additionally, IIPL will co-invest in the startup which will give these companies “significant and sustainable long term value”. The investment committee of BANSEA One will select the startups to invest in.

IBM’s Blockchain Innovation in Singapore

International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) is all set to open the first Centre for Blockchain Innovation in Singapore in partnership with The Economic Development Board (EDB) and Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). This move will assist blockchain startups and entrepreneurs in Singapore. Robert Morris, the vice-president of Global Labs at IBM Research stated that “Now with new cloud services that make these technologies more accessible, leaders from all industries are beginning to take note of the resulting profound and disruptive implications in a range of industries including finance, banking, IoT, healthcare, supply chains, manufacturing, technology, government, the legal system, and more.” IBM’s first project is focused on using this technology to “improve multi-party trade finance efficiencies”. IBM’s project, which involves fintech companies and global banks, is in line with MAS, Singapore’s Central Bank’s vision to develop Singapore into a Smart Nation with special targeting of technology innovation in the financial sector.

Startup Activity

3 startups chosen for PayPal Incubation Programme

The PayPal Incubation Programme that started in June earlier this year has selected 3 finetech companies for its programme. The three startups that will undergo mentorship and coaching from PayPal are:

  1. Prosecure – A startup that targets e-commerce companies and allows shoppers to return their products for free.
  2. InvoiceInterchange – A peer-to-peer platform that help SMEs raise money and
  3. ONEPAY – A startup that lets a person make payments (including cryptocurrencies) around the world without any foreign exchange fee.

Additional details of these startups will be available upon their completion of the programme.

Robot “Emma” can Relieve you from Muscle Strains

AiTreat, a Singapore-based high-tech startup company recently introduced “Emma” – a robot designed especially to perform massages for muscle strains and injuries. Expert Manipulative Massage Automation (EMMA) has a robotic arm with a 3D printed massage element at its tip to perform massages for sports injuries or any muscle pains. Emma can carry out the treatment according to a physiotherapist’s prescription. Albert Zhang, a graduate from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and the CEO of AiTreat stated that “We have designed Emma as a clinically precise tool that can automatically carry out treatment for patients as prescribed by a physiotherapist or Chinese physician”. Emma has already treated patients suffering from tennis elbow, stiff shoulder, muscle pull etc.

Funding

Carousell Raises $35 Million in Series B Round Funding

Carousell, a Singapore-based shopping app has raised $35 million in Series B Funding Round that was led by Rakuten Ventures. The other investors that participated in the funding round were Sequoia India, 500 Startups and Golden Gate Ventures. Founded in 2012, the company connects users who wish to buy and sell products online. Various products such as furniture, gadgets, home appliances, beauty products etc are bought and sold through Carousell. The tagline of the company, “Sell in a Snap, Buy with a Chat”, explains how the parties can buy and sell through the app. Carousell has received a total of $41.8 million in funding till date. Quek Siu Rui, the co-founder of the company stated that the additional funds will be utilized to venture into new markets and strengthen the company’s position as one of the largest and fastest growing mobile classifieds marketplace.

vKirirom Raises $2.9 Million from 15 Angel Investors

vKirirom, a Singapore-based social entrepreneurship startup secured $2.9 million from 15 angel investors in Singapore and Japan. The startup, founded in 2014, has formed a resort and boarding style university in Cambodia. The university, Kirirom Institute of Technology provides premises of a resort and aims at educating students in programming and English. Additionally, the sponsoring companies provide scholarships to the students of the university. The vKirirom resort offers luxury tents and bungalows. Takeshi Izuka, the founder of vKirirom wishes to further enhance the resort experience and provide facilities to cater to the needs of tourists.

e27 Raises $2.2 Million in Series A Round Funding

e27, Singapore’s technology news platform has raised $2.2 million in Series A funding round that was led by China’s TechTemple Group. Linear Ventures, Spacemob, Venturecraft and Convergence Ventures also participated in the round. The company will use the funds to hire new people in its events and editorial teams. The e27 website covers technology news; it had raised $650,000 last year but went through a tough time in January this year which led to the company laying off almost half of its employees. However, with the new funding round, Mohan Belani the co-founder and CEO of e27 is confident that the company products such as digital jobs database and the startup and investor database will “serve the needs of startups and of the technology industry and market at large”.

Upcoming Events

Slush to Arrive in Singapore in September

One of the largest global startup events, Slush is all set to come to Singapore in September. Originating from Finland, Slush will arrive in Singapore on September 20, 2016 during the Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology (SWITCH). Anna Ratala, the head of Slush Singapore stated that “Today Southeast Asia is attracting a huge amount of funding and top tech talent to its rapidly developing markets. Singapore is a perfect hotspot for connecting the Western investors and businesses with regional ones”. Singapore is chosen for the event due to the success of startups in the country and the country being one of the best places in Southeast Asia to do business. The event will bring together entrepreneurs who wish to set up a business, international investors and executives. Slush Singapore is being organized in Partnership with Techventure and will be held at the Resorts World Convention Centre in Sentosa. The highlight of the event will be the Slush Pitching Competition where the 30 best seed-stage companies of Slush Singapore will compete and the winning startup will secure a position in the Slush 100 Pitching Competition that will be held in November in Helsinki, Finland. Additionally, eight startups will be selected by Channel News Asia’s Start–UP TV Programme and the four winning startups will be funded up to S$500,000. The applications for the startup competition are now open and the final deadline to submit an application is August 22, 2016. Startups and entrepreneurs who wish to attend the programme can also register for it.

Insurance Technology Incubator Programme

NTUC Income, an insurance service provider in Singapore launched an accelerator programme in partnership with the Infocomm Investments Private Ltd (IIPL). Powered by TAG.PASS (a pre-accelerator for startups), the insurtech programme will support 12 startups around the world that have a unique business idea. The qualifying startups will receive an entrepreneur grant of S$28,000 and mentorship from experts in the field. Head of IIPL, Dr. Alex Lin stated that startups are the bedrock of innovation and startups will bring about innovation in the insurance industry with this accelerator programme. The applications for the programme are open until October 7, 2016. The accelerator programme will begin in January, 2017 and will be held for a period of 11 weeks at Block 79 co-working space BASH (Building Amazing Startups Here).

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