Start Singapore: One-stop information portal on start-ups

British astronaut Tim Peake (above) running on a treadmill aboard the International Space Station. He had used RunSocial, a software by Singapore fitness start-up Paofit, to help him train for this year's London Marathon.
British astronaut Tim Peake (above) running on a treadmill aboard the International Space Station. He had used RunSocial, a software by Singapore fitness start-up Paofit, to help him train for this year's London Marathon.PHOTO: REUTERS

One-stop information portal on start-ups

One-third of start-ups receiving investments from venture capital firms and angel investors were focused on Internet, e-commerce and mobile segments.

But only about one-fifth of start-ups financially supported by the National Research Foundation were focused in these areas.

Biomedical and healthcare start-ups accounted for higher numbers - 40 per cent and 37 per cent respectively - of research spin-offs of A*Star (Agency for Science, Technology and Research) and the National University of Singapore (NUS).

The data was collected from 1,888 start-ups and 1,974 founders by online directory TechSG as well as submissions by investors, entrepreneurs and others in the start-up community.

Professor Wong Poh Kam of the NUS Business School said the information provides trends and data for start-up policymaking, funding and investments in Singapore.

He is steering the direction of TechSG, which comes under NUS Enterprise, the entrepreneurship arm of NUS.

"For us to nurture innovation and entrepreneurship, it is necessary to have data. Then we can see gaps and opportunities," said Prof Wong who is also a director of NUS Entrepreneurship Centre.

Set up in November last year, TechSG also highlights the spiderweb of links among founders, entrepreneurs, venture capital firms and groups of graduates of NUS, Singapore Management University and Insead business school.

This web traces, for instance, the funding moves by founders whose start-ups have been acquired. The online directory also captures the background of founders.

The database showed that about 58 per cent of founders achieved the highest educational level in Singapore. By contrast, only 17.3 per cent of start-up founders in the United States had that level of education. The figure was just 5.7 per cent in Britain.

Figures on the overall number of investors and start-ups collected by TechSG and start-up directories in New York and London - Digital NYC and Tech London respectively - also show that Singapore is ahead of the two cities.

According to TechSG, Singapore has 1,888 start-ups and 215 investors compared with only 1,722 and 62 respectively in London. New York may have a huge number of start-ups at 7,577 but only 200 investors.

Across all three cities, media, entertainment, lifestyle and leisure formed the largest number of start-ups. But TechSG data show a higher proportion of biomedical start-ups than the other two cities.

Prof Wong said TechSG is built as a "wiki" in that it allows the start-up community to upload its own information.

"We do curate it but to get a richer directory, we need the support of the community."

TechSG is providing the information free for now.


S'pore fitness start-up in Nasa project

Local fitness start-up Paofit has been selected for a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) exercise research study on ways to reduce the effects of zero gravity on humans on space travel.

The study, expected to last several months, will be conducted at the Johnson Space Centre in Texas and is funded by the United States agency, National Space Biomedical Research Institute. 

Paofit's software RunSocial will be used in this study. When used on board a spacecraft, astronauts running on a treadmill will get to experience videos of real-world run routes, said a media release yesterday.

They can also be socially and motivationally engaged by avatars modelled after their family members and friends.

Paofit founder Marc Hardy said RunSocial is already in space on board the International Space Station (ISS).

British astronaut Tim Peake on the ISS had used RunSocial to run this year's London Marathon.

Said Mr Hardy: "The idea of this study is to research the benefits more intensively as it could potentially be used to support astronauts in deep space." 

The study is important as studies have shown that physical fitness does impact an astronaut's ability to perform critical mission tasks. 

Astronauts have cited a need for these exercise systems to implement features designed to improve crew morale, mood, motivation, crew cohesion and family ties during extended space missions, said the media statement.

Founded in 2012, Paofit received initial funding from Spring Singapore. It did not disclose the funding sum.


Citi Innovation Lab wins global award

Citi's innovation lab here has won an international award for an innovation in treasury management at the 2016 FinTech Innovation Awards in London.

Judges at the global awards considered Citi's Working Capital Analytics (CWCA) solution as innovative and meeting the challenges of today's fast-changing treasury environment.

The CWCA is an advisory solution that helps solve key pain points of working capital optimisation and processing efficiency for Citibank's large and global multinational clients.

The solution combines a corporation's accounts- payable data with the bank's proprietary intelligence, diagnostic capabilities, visualisation and real-time interactive features to deliver insights into a company's supply chain.

Grace Chng

• Send news on start-up developments to chngkeg@sph.com.sg


Correction:  An earlier version of the story stated that Paofit was founded in 2010 instead of 2012. This has been corrected.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 19, 2016, with the headline 'Start Singapore'. Print Edition | Subscribe