A*Star arm inking deals to co-create deep-tech start-ups

A*ccelerate and investors raise $85m with the aim of commercialising innovation

The Agency for Science, Technology and Research's (A*Star) newly rebranded commercialisation arm, A*ccelerate, will enter into new agreements with investors such as Startup-O, Hafnium Hafaway, Marvelstone, Trendlines and Dymon Asia Ventures.

These partnerships will bring the total commitment for its venture co-creation initiative to around $85 million.

The aim is to commercialise "deep tech" innovation - fundamental breakthroughs in science and engineering that will profoundly impact industries and people's lives - in areas such as the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and speciality chemicals.

One of A*ccelerate's newly minted deals involves a tie-up with Hafnium Hafaway, where both parties will jointly invest up to $20 million in as many as 10 local speciality chemicals start-ups, leveraging technologies developed in A*Star.

A*ccelerate chief executive Philip Lim said: "This collaboration builds upon the strong research work at A*Star and Hafnium's expertise in growing speciality chemical businesses."

Hafnium partner Francis Tan said the company was delighted to take the best of A*Star's speciality chemicals intellectual property portfolio and provide the expertise and financing to enable the businesses to scale up rapidly.

Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon, who made the A*ccelerate announcement at Fusionopolis One yesterday, said that as "Singapore is no longer in the catch-up phase, the work for A*ccelerate - formerly called ETPL - is all the more challenging, and expectations are... higher".

He added that A*ccelerate must lead the way and strive to become one of the top commercialisation offices in the world.

He sees the agency delivering on three key roles in Singapore's innovation ecosystem.

One is supporting A*Star researchers from lab to market, helping them commercialise their inventions. Its start-ups have raised around $210 million since the start of the Research, Innovation, Enterprise 2020 Plan, a government initiative to support local research and development.

The second is supporting local enterprises in innovation. This has been done through initiatives such as venture co-creation, which brings in private sector partners and investors as venture creators to co-create deep-tech start-ups.

The third is connecting A*Star and the industry to strengthen links between research, innovation and enterprise.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 10, 2018, with the headline A*Star arm inking deals to co-create deep-tech start-ups. Subscribe