More than $13b invested in start-ups in Singapore between Jan and Sept this year

About $13.4 billion from 437 deals was poured into the companies, a 36 per cent increase over the same period last year, Enterprise Singapore said. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - Despite the slowing economy, funds invested in companies here rose by more than one-third in the first nine months of this year.

In all, about $13.4 billion from 437 deals was poured into the companies, a 36 per cent increase over the same period last year, Enterprise Singapore said on Thursday (Oct 17).

The bulk of the funds was invested in start-ups operating in the digital tech industry, accounting for 93.2 per cent of the total funds raised. The investments were made across 278 deals, almost double the 145 deals struck in the same period last year.

Investments in deep-tech firms operating in three industries went up by 25 per cent to about $416.4 million between January and September this year.

The trio are advanced manufacturing, urban solutions and sustainability, plus healthcare and biomedical sciences.

But the funds raised in these three industries made up less than 4 per cent of total capital invested, in part due to the current ecosystem's lack of lead investors with the expertise and experience to back deep-tech companies, Enterprise Singapore said.

Said its assistant chief executive officer for innovation and enterprise, Mr Edwin Chow: "Globally, an ageing, wealthier population as well as urbanisation and climate change will create a growing demand for new, innovative solutions."

More deep-tech companies are expected to be formed and they will require more early-stage venture funding to succeed, he added.

The agency is looking to strengthen the start-up ecosystem here through partnerships with the private sector and other government agencies.

In June this year, a pilot programme that offers deal-making sessions to facilitate regional investments into start-ups was launched. It is a joint initiative of Enterprise Singapore and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

Since then, about 200 start-ups have been linked, with more than 150 investors from the region.

Mr Sopnendu Mohanty, MAS chief fintech officer, noted that investment in Singapore-based fintech start-ups crossed the $1 billion milestone in the first nine months of 2019, a 69 per cent growth over the same period last year.

"The success of the digital ecosystem lies with Singapore establishing deep partnership with global markets and integrating into Asia's digital economic growth," he said.

Enterprise Singapore said regional and global funds have been raising bigger sums this year, and it foresees the trend continuing as the opportunities in South-east Asia grow with the rise of the Internet economy.

Venture capitalists that have launched new funds this year include firms like Jungle Ventures and Vertex Venture, as well as corporate-backed Reefknot Investments, a joint venture between logistics giant Kuehne + Nagel and Temasek Holdings.

Mr Chow said access to smart financing is essential for the development of deep-tech start-ups in Singapore.

"As we develop Singapore into a Global-Asia node for tech, innovation and enterprise, we need to build on the momentum to capture and catalyse more venture activities here," he added.

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