SGX ties up with A*Star unit to help tech SMEs go public

Forums, workshops to be organised in more targeted approach to help firms raise capital

The Singapore Exchange (SGX) signage.

The Singapore Exchange (SGX) is partnering with a unit of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) to give selected technology companies better access to capital.

The initiative will target start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the tech sector, including the medtech, biotech, cleantech and consumer tech industries, as well as A*Star spin-off companies and licensees.

As part of a two-year agreement, SGX and the A*Star's commercialisation unit Exploit Technologies (ETPL) will form a joint panel to select tech companies to partner with, based on their level of keenness to expand in Asia, their business models, market size and scalability.

Not all details of the tie-up are clear yet, but the market will be kept informed of material developments as they come, said SGX and ETPL.

SGX said the partners would organise forums and workshops with market professionals to help make it easier for start-ups to raise capital.

These sessions will involve auditors, solicitors and Catalist sponsors explaining how Singapore capital markets can be used as a source of funding, the standards required of public-listed companies and investors' expectations.

ETPL sees the new tie-up as representing a shift towards a more targeted approach in supporting companies that are ready for the public financing market.

Selected firms can tap on the various research and development capabilities offered by A*Star - which span the biomedical sciences, physical sciences and engineering - and receive ETPL's guidance in productisation and business development.

Overall, SGX and ETPL hope their tie-up will strengthen the financial positions of high-growth start-ups and SMEs, and help them bring their inventions and intellectual capital to market faster.

Mr Vikram Mengi, chief executive of software start-up Latize, said: "Capital markets can be opaque and hard to navigate for start-up founders, and this lack of clarity can serve to break crucial business momentum.

"SGX engaging with tech start-ups and SMEs could prove to be an inspired move, particularly around educating founders on how they can best access funding."

Mr Neal Fowler, chief executive of nanotech firm Liquidia Technologies, called the tie-up a "strong demonstration of the Singapore Government's commitment to support companies with innovative technologies and integrate them in the city's tech ecosystem".

Last month, SGX inked a similar deal with the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) to make it easier for high-tech start-ups to launch initial public offerings (IPOs). Under that scheme, a pool of appointed sponsors, auditors and solicitors would engage start-ups accredited by the Accreditation@IMDA programme earlier on in the process of an IPO and for a lower fee. There are 17 start-ups in the programme.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 20, 2017, with the headline SGX ties up with A*Star unit to help tech SMEs go public. Subscribe