BasisAI raises $6m from Temasek & Sequoia India in one of the largest seed rounds in SG

Singapore downtown. Photo: bady qb/unsplash

BasisAI has raised $6 million (S$8.2 million) from Temasek and Sequoia India, one of the largest seed rounds raised by a Singapore-based company.

Basis AI is an early-stage AI startup which aims to build scalable and accountable machine learning products for digital enterprises.

According to an official statement, its initial focus will be to deliver AI solutions to accelerate growth and personalisation for internet companies, as well as traditional enterprises that are retooling digitally.

BasisAI was founded by Silvanus Lee, Linus Lee and Liu Feng-Yuan. Silvanus Lee and Linus Lee were former data science heads at Uber and Twitter APAC respectively, while Liu was the former director of data science and AI at GovTech Singapore. The trio collectively has more than 20 years of experience in data science and machine learning.

Silvanus Lee, former head of data science at Dropbox and Uber, believes the right company culture is essential and there is strong talent in the region. Lee said: “I’ve seen from my past experience in Silicon Valley, Southeast Asian talent being able to punch in the same weight class. We believe we can build a world class AI company in Singapore, with a strong engineering culture, that values first-principles thinking and a deep respect for the power of collaborative multidisciplinary teams.”

According to DEALSTREETASIA data, BasisAI’s latest round is the second largest seed round raised by a Singapore-based company since 2018. The largest seed round raised in 2018 was by Engine Biosciences at $10 million.

The San Francisco and Singapore-based biotech firm secured funds from Silicon Valley-based DHVC (Danhua Capital), 6 Dimensions Capital; WuXi AppTec, a biopharmaceutical major; EDBI, Pavilion Capital, a unit of Temasek Holdings; Baidu Ventures, WI Harper and Nest.Bio Ventures. According to Engine Biosciences, this round was also the largest in Southeast Asia.

Sequoia and Temasek tend to back larger and more mature startups in Southeast Asia and globally, making this investment in BasisAI an exception for the two investors.

Sequoia has shown growing interest in backing seed startups in recent months. In December, the Silicon Valley investor filed an SEC filing to launch its first seed round for China. In January 2018, Sequoia closed Sequoia Scout III, a $180-million seed fund targeting US startups at the seed stage.

Also read:

Sequoia closes $695m sixth fund to chase bets in India, SE Asia

Sequoia Capital to raise China-focused seed fund

Singapore’s EDBI, Pavilion Capital back $10m seed round in Engine Biosciences