Grab sets up Grab Ventures to seek out next unicorn

Grab Ventures will develop "cutting-edge technology and build fast-growing businesses" in-house, such as bike and e-scooter sharing platform GrabCycle.
Grab Ventures will develop "cutting-edge technology and build fast-growing businesses" in-house, such as bike and e-scooter sharing platform GrabCycle.PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - Grab on Tuesday (June 5) unveiled Grab Ventures, an initiative to develop innovations in-house, pursue strategic partnerships and seek out South-east Asia's next generation of technology unicorns.

Grab chief Anthony Tan, who unveiled the initiative at tech conference innovfest unbound, said Grab wants to help create the next generation of entrepreneurs in the region as it celebrates its sixth birthday: "It's impossible for us alone to try and create 100 million micro-entrepreneurs around the region."

Grab Ventures will develop "cutting-edge technology and build fast-growing businesses" in-house, such as bike and e-scooter sharing platform GrabCycle.

It will also run Velocity, Grab's new accelerator programme for growth-stage start-ups that will provide them with expertise, technical resources and networks to help their expansion. Through Velocity, Grab will partner some eight to 10 growth-stage start-ups over the next two years, and may invest in select start-ups that exhibit "strong synergies" with Grab. Sectors in focus include transport, food, logistics and financial services.

The Business Times understands that Grab Ventures manages an open-end fund, and is open to partnering venture capitalist firms to provide capital for its portfolio start-ups.

In Singapore, Grab has partnered government agencies such as the Info-communications Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA) and Enterprise SG to tap their expertise in areas including capability development, global market access and regulatory support. EDBI, the investment arm of the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), has also joined the Velocity programme as one of its early partners.

Currently, Grab Ventures' portfolio include Drive.ai, a California-based self-driving technology start-up; iKaaz, an India-based payment experience start-up; Kudo, an Indonesian payments start-up which Grab acquired in 2017; and GrabCycle.

Chris Yeo, head of Grab Ventures, told BT that Grab wants to expand its online-to-offline solutions. "If there are any existing tech companes already doing that, we'd rather partner them than build (the technologies) ourselves," he said.