CapitaLand sets up $100 million fund to invest in start-ups focussed on real estate innovation

SINGAPORE - Developer CapitaLand is setting up a venture fund to invest up to $100 million in global technology sector start-ups in its ongoing effort to innovate and build real estate of the future.

The new fund is called C31 Ventures and it has started with a $15-million investment in the Early Stage Venture Fund III (ESVFIII) by Singapore's National Research Foundation (NRF) in May for local tech start-ups.

C31 Ventures was announced by Mr Lim Ming Yan, CapitaLand's president and group chief executive, at the company's 'Gateway to Asia' networking event in San Francisco, attended by more than 50 start-ups and venture capital firms in the Bay Area.

Mr Lim said: "C31 Ventures will allow CapitaLand to invest in promising tech start-ups that are relevant and add value to our business.

"CapitaLand's portfolio of real estate assets offers a living lab to start-ups where they can validate their ideas and prototypes. Given our strong foothold in Asia, CapitaLand will also serve as a conduit for start-ups to enter the regional market, especially China," he said.

Mr Lim added: "We are confident C31 Ventures will greatly sharpen our innovation focus on real estate and customer engagement, bolstering our efforts to develop integrated and interconnected smart buildings as well as create seamless online and offline customer experiences."

He said: "CapitaLand is future-proofing its business by leveraging technology to innovate and build real estate of tomorrow."

C31 Ventures targets start-up companies that fit into CapitaLand's focus areas of innovation in energy, operations and maintenance; building and construction;

design and building materials; real estate funding as well as customer engagement.

Shortlisted start-ups will be reviewed by an investment committee comprising CapitaLand's senior management and external advisors, including notable venture capitalists, Mr Foo Jixun, Managing Partner of GGV Capital and Mr David Su, Managing Partner of Matrix Partners China.

The start-ups will be assessed based on a combination of criteria ranging from speed to market, product and financial viability, to valuation and operating metrics.

Mr Foo Jixun, Managing Partner of GGV Capital, said: "Unique to CapitaLand is a real estate portfolio that spans integrated developments, shopping malls, serviced residences, offices and homes, and value chain expertise as a property developer, owner, manager, investor and fund manager. Start-ups from around the world can leverage the group's deep domain expertise and validate their innovations across CapitaLand's real estate portfolio and

customer platform."

Mr David Su, Managing Partner of Matrix Partners China, said: "As one of Asia's largest real estate developers with presence in over 150 cities in more than 20 countries, as well as

China's largest foreign real estate developer, CapitaLand offers start-ups unparalleled

access to Asia. With a rising middle class, the region is set to become the world's largest

consumer economy. Entry into Asian markets, especially China, is an uphill task for most

start-ups. Through C31 Ventures, overseas tech start-ups will be given the opportunity to test their innovations directly in Asian markets."

The launch of C31 Ventures marked the end of a tech-scout trip by CapitaLand in New York and San Francisco, where the group met start-ups including those in the Internet of Things, data analytics, and virtual and augmented reality sectors.

Earlier this month, CapitaLand joined the Microsoft Accelerator programme as an official

global network partner to provide mentorship to start-ups as well as gain access to new

ideas and technology. In May, CapitaLand was selected to co-invest in the ESVFIII by NRF, a department within the Prime Minister's Office of Singapore. The S$25 million fund for Singapore comprises $10 million from the NRF and $15 million from C31 Ventures. Under ESVFIII, CapitaLand will invest in Singapore tech start-ups with innovations that will complement and enhance its business.