Start-up creator investing in 'deep tech' ventures here

Europe's biggest start-up creator has tied up with Singapore's Infocomm Investments to invest in around 400 budding entrepreneurs here over the next four years.

This is Entrepreneur First's (EF) first international office. EF works with individuals with technical skills and who are inclined towards science, technology, engineering and mathematics, to help them build "deep tech" start-ups from scratch.

These budding founders work closely with a select group of highly experienced venture partners to build their firms and prepare for next-stage investments.

Since 2013, EF has worked with 200 individuals and built 50 start-ups, which have so far raised over US$60 million (S$86 million) in venture capital from leading global investors.

Announcing the initiative at the launch event in London yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said the partnership is a win-win.

"The current turbulence in financial markets doesn't displace the longer-term picture in Asia: its markets are expanding faster than the rest of the world, and its consumers will increasingly demand quality and innovative products," he said.

"EF's new presence in Singapore will help catalyse technology innovation to take advantage of these opportunities. EF will help individuals with deep technical capabilities and new ideas to translate them into commercial solutions. The possibilities are in many areas, such as healthcare, the digital economy and solutions for urban sustainability."

Infocomm Investments chairman Steve Leonard added that the partnership is in line with Mr Tharman's call for Singapore to embark on a new phase of economic development, moving from value- adding to value-creation.

"One of our biggest priorities is to create new value by better translating the world-class research and development in Singapore into greater commercial success."

EF aims to recruit 40 to 50 individuals for its pioneer cohort in September. Applications opened yesterday.

The programme comprises two three-month phases. During the first three months, each participant receives a monthly stipend of $3,500. Should a company be successfully formed after the first phase, EF Singapore will invest a further $25,000 for an 8 per cent equity stake.

The total investment, including stipends, in each successfully formed company is about $50,000.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 20, 2016, with the headline 'Start-up creator investing in 'deep tech' ventures here'. Print Edition | Subscribe