3 unicorns emerge as S'pore tech start-ups raise $5.3b

355 fund-raising deals closed in first half of this year, up from 317 during same period last year

Used car marketplace Carro's co-founder and chief executive Aaron Tan (left), 36, and software firm PatSnap's founder and chief executive Jeffrey Tiong (below left), 37. Their start-ups joined the ranks of Singapore's unicorns this year. Both men wer
Used car marketplace Carro's co-founder and chief executive Aaron Tan (above), 36, and software firm PatSnap's founder and chief executive Jeffrey Tiong, 37. Their start-ups joined the ranks of Singapore's unicorns this year. Both men were panel speakers at yesterday's SG Innovation Community Day. PHOTOS: CARRO, PATSNAP
Used car marketplace Carro's co-founder and chief executive Aaron Tan (left), 36, and software firm PatSnap's founder and chief executive Jeffrey Tiong (below left), 37. Their start-ups joined the ranks of Singapore's unicorns this year. Both men wer
Used car marketplace Carro's co-founder and chief executive Aaron Tan, 36, and software firm PatSnap's founder and chief executive Jeffrey Tiong (above), 37. Their start-ups joined the ranks of Singapore's unicorns this year. Both men were panel speakers at yesterday's SG Innovation Community Day. PHOTOS: CARRO, PATSNAP

Tech start-ups in Singapore raised $5.3 billion in the first half of this year, up from $3.4 billion in the same period last year.

The Republic has also added three unicorns - software firm PatSnap, used car marketplace Carro and payments company Nium - to its ranks this year.

This demonstrates the resilience of the start-up ecosystem in Singapore despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, Enterprise Singapore (ESG) chairman Peter Ong said yesterday.

The number of fund-raising deals closed in the first six months of the year - 355 - was also higher than last year's 317, he noted.

Speaking at the SG Innovation Community Day, which was held in a hybrid format at JW Marriott Hotel Singapore South Beach, Mr Ong noted that there has been greater interest among Singaporeans to pursue entrepreneurship during the pandemic.

ESG's Startup SG Founder venture building programmes have trained more than 680 aspiring entrepreneurs since their launch in August last year.

About half of the participants are mid-career professionals, managers, executives and technicians who were unemployed, he said.

As part of efforts to sustain this growth momentum and support more quality start-ups, ESG's investment arm Seeds Capital will be appointing 13 new venture capital (VC) firms as co-investment partners under the Startup SG Equity scheme.

This brings Seeds Capital's active pool of partners to 46, and is intended to drive more than $150 million worth of investments into three deep tech sectors: advanced manufacturing and engineering, health and biomedical sciences, as well as urban solutions and sustainability, said Mr Ong.

In a separate statement, Seeds Capital chairman and ESG deputy chief executive Ted Tan said: "Catalysing more VC investments in this current environment where investors tend to be more cautious is significant.

"Seeds Capital can now offer deep tech start-ups, which have innovative and scalable solutions, with the opportunity to be mentored by our new partners who bring with them extensive mar-ket connections and a wealth of sector-specific domain knowledge to increase their chances of success."

Among the new co-investment partners are innovation platform Plug and Play, VC fund Quest Ventures and family office Schweizer World Group.

Besides funding, these partners will also provide mentorship and help start-ups in their commercialisation efforts.

In his speech, Mr Ong also highlighted how deep-tech incubators and accelerators have partnered ESG through the Innovation and Enterprise Fellowship Programme, which was launched last year and seeks to equip deep-tech talent with business development skills.

The government agency is appointing an additional nine partners to the programme, including food manufacturing incubator Innovate 360 and agri-tech accelerator Grow.

More partners will be appointed in future batches, Mr Ong said.

Yesterday's event, which was organised by ESG ahead of the Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology which will be held in November, also featured conference sessions with players from the start-up ecosystem and industry veterans from sectors such as sustainability and agri-food.

Panel speakers included PatSnap founder and CEO Jeffrey Tiong, 37, and Carro co-founder and CEO Aaron Tan, 36, as well as executives from property firm CapitaLand and consumer goods giant Unilever.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 05, 2021, with the headline '3 unicorns emerge as S'pore tech start-ups raise $5.3b'. Subscribe