EDB's investment arm had strongest year on record in 2021 despite pandemic

EDBI helped 11 portfolio companies list on the stock exchange while supporting promising start-ups through Covid-19 challenges. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The investment arm of Singapore's Economic Development Board had its strongest year on record in 2021, despite the turmoil caused by the pandemic.

EDBI as it is known helped 11 portfolio companies list on the stock exchange while supporting promising start-ups through Covid-19 challenges, it said.

The firm, which commemorated its 30th anniversary last year, has made around 200 investments over the years.

About 45 of these are unicorns - unlisted firms valued in excess of US$1 billion (S$1.36 billion) - in sectors like information and communications technology, healthcare and emerging technology over the past decade.

EDBI chief executive Chu Swee Yeok said in an e-book published for the 30th anniversary: "EDBI has continued to invest aggressively through the pandemic, and availed growth opportunities through our extensive networks."

She added that this has enabled "companies to emerge stronger while deploying key technologies to strengthen the nation's fight and resilience against the pandemic".

Six of the 11 portfolio firms registered initial public offerings (IPOs) last year while five were special purpose acquisition companies (Spacs).

The firms that went for IPOs include mooring solutions firm Mooreast, which listed on the Singapore Exchange's Catalist board in November.

Mooreast is also capturing business opportunities in the strongly emerging renewable energy sector, with demand for alternative sources like wind energy.

The firm recorded profit before tax of $4.72 million on revenue of $19.35 million in 2020, up from $3.27 million earnings on turnover of $16.33 million in 2019.

Satellite imagery and data specialist firm Planet Labs began trading on the New York Stock Exchange in December, while prescription digital therapeutics company Pear Therapeutics debuted on the Nasdaq in the same month.

Mooreast founder and chief executive Sim Koon Lam said: "EDBI subscribed for two tranches of pre-IPO convertible notes totalling $10 million.

"The investment by EDBI underscores investor confidence in Mooreast's strategy to leverage its offshore and marine skill sets to secure growth opportunities in the renewable energy sector, in particular floating wind farms.

"EDBI's network and credibility will support our efforts to expand to the global market and strike international partnerships."

The firm has already started expanding its capacity at its new facility in 51 Shipyard Road.

The proceeds from the IPO will be used to increase product range, enhance geotechnical capabilities and forge new distributorships for mooring and rigging solutions for the floating renewable energy sector, Mr Sim said.

Mooreast founder and chief executive Sim Koon Lam. PHOTO: MOOREAST

Besides public listings, other portfolio companies also made notable strides. Telemedicine firm Doctor Anywhere rapidly ramped up resources and provided telemedicine solutions to support Singapore's Covid-19 home recovery programme, EDBI said.

EDBI also supported start-ups through the pandemic period with a fund and schemes to help firms access investments to grow.

Last year, it announced its new Growth IPO Fund to focus on late-stage private enterprises that are two or more funding rounds away from a listing.

It will also focus on Singapore's future economic pillars, including the digital economy and information and communications technology, financial services, urban solutions and sustainability and healthcare.

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