In yet another attempt to cultivate more cutting edge innovation, the Singapore government on Tuesday unveiled SGInnovate as part of its Budget 2016 plan aimed to transform industries by supporting innovations.
SGInnovate will now operate under the National Research Foundation (NRF). Previously, it was under the umbrella of Infocomm Investments (IIPL), the venture investment agency under the former Infocomm Development Authority (IDA).
Singapore’s latest initiative to incubate science and deep-technology startups will see them connecting young entrepreneurs with mentors, providing them with access to research institutes, as well as introducing them to funding opportunities and eventually exposing them to new markets.
Focusing on deep technology, this translates to startups whose business models are built around unique, differentiated, and difficult-to-replicate technological or scientific advances. This translates to “companies founded on a scientific discovery or meaningful engineering innovation”, according to one LinkedIn post.
Some partners at SGInnovate are pre-seed investment programme Entrepreneur First, statutory board Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) and four of the city-state’s universities. This clusters various stakeholders in the technology ecosystem together
The key concentration for SGInnovate will be on digital health, financial services, smart energy, digital manufacturing, transportation, artificial intelligence, and robotics.
Speaking at the launch on Tuesday, Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies Tharman Shanmugaratnam elaborated that SGInnovate would be functioning as a curate to aggregate and facilitate the convergence of players in the deep technology space. Shanmugaratnam commented: “SGInnovate is itself a start-up and it would require a different set of capabilities from the usual Government agency work.”
SGInnovate has already secured several major engineering firms as partners such as McLaren Applied Technologies and chipmaker Nvidia. It aims to connect them with expertise from varsity partners such as the National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore Institute of Technology and Singapore University of Technology and Design.
The launch of SGInnovate is a significant step for the city-states startup ecosystem, serving to strengthen networks between researchers, start-ups and venture capitalists that will foster deep tech-focused communities and encourage interaction via co-working spaces.
“It is a curator, selecting and bringing together deep tech-focused players in the same space with the aim of catalysing productive interaction. It will be a focal point for interaction between deep-tech scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs in various domains, and financiers… SGInnovate will strengthen the linkages across talented individuals within the ecosystem and develop a local cadre of mentors to promising start-ups,” Shanmugaratnam said.
“Our research efforts have gained international recognition. However, more of our research has to translate to commercial output. Patent output in Singapore is still relatively low, and there is still much opportunity to develop commercial outcomes downstream,” he adds.