S'pore takes up 25% of $8.3b invested in region's tech firms

The full-year investment amount for this year is expected to match last year's, as giant start-ups such as Grab, Gojek, Traveloka and Tokopedia continue to attract sizeable funds, according to a report by venture capital firm Cento Ventures.
The full-year investment amount for this year is expected to match last year's, as giant start-ups such as Grab, Gojek, Traveloka and Tokopedia continue to attract sizeable funds, according to a report by venture capital firm Cento Ventures. LIANHE ZAOBAO FILE PHOTO

Singapore accounted for a quarter of the US$5.99 billion (S$8.3 billion) invested in the region's tech firms in the first half of this year, up from 13 per cent for the whole of last year, a report said yesterday.

It also noted that South-east Asia racked up a record number of tech-related deals from January to June.

The US$5.99 billion in capital invested was 28 per cent lower than the US$8.31 billion in the same period last year, but well up on the US$3.6 billion injected in the second half of last year.

The full-year investment amount for this year is expected to match last year's, as giant start-ups such as Grab, Gojek, Traveloka and Tokopedia continue to attract sizeable funds, said venture capital firm Cento Ventures, which compiled the report.

A growing cohort of newcomers valued above US$100 million is set to attract significant capital, it added.

There is also a growing crop of other late-stage firms raising larger funding rounds, putting them above the US$100 million valuation.

These include regional firms such as logistics provider Ninja Van and deals platform Fave, Singapore's artificial intelligence start-up Taiger and online marketplace operator Carousell, Thailand's fashion start-up Pomelo and Indonesia's fintech RupiahPlus.

There were 332 tech deals done during the first half of this year, almost double the 177 in the same period last year, driven by early-stage investment activity and marking an all-time high for the region.

Small deals - below US$500,000 - experienced a spike in the first half of this year, after staying largely flat in 2016 to last year.

This surge in early-stage investment activity was partly boosted by deals done by a number of new accelerators and incubators, such as Antler, Skala and Accelerating Asia.

"While we continue to see 'mega deals', tech investment in South-east Asia appears to be more diversified this year," Cento Ventures said.

Geographically, there seemed to be greater diversification in capital deployed, particularly towards Vietnam, although Indonesia and Singapore continued to capture most of the activity.

Investments into Vietnam made up 17 per cent of the region's total inflows in the first half, up from 5 per cent last year. This comes as the country produces more late-stage firms such as Tiki, VNPay and Vntrip.

Indonesia lost a large share of capital invested because of the absence of mega deals, but investment amounts into Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines were consistent with previous years'.

A wider range of sectors also attracted interest. These included fintech, healthcare and logistics start-ups. While fintech has been popular since 2017, logistics and healthcare have emerged among the most funded sectors.

Separately, fintech investments in Singapore nearly quadrupled from a year ago to US$453 million in the first half of this year, making it the third-largest fintech market by funds in the region.

This was based on Accenture's analysis of data from CB Insights.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 17, 2019, with the headline 'S'pore takes up 25% of $8.3b invested in region's tech firms'. Print Edition | Subscribe