SE Asia startups receive grants from MBI, TNB Ventures to facilitate smart cities

Three startups from Singapore and Vietnam have bagged supportive grants from the Smart City Innovation Challenge, an annual event that seeks out startups providing urban life solutions.

The challenge is powered by the Mekong Business Initiative (MBI) and Singapore-based TNB Ventures.

GridComm, a VC-backed street light solutions and IoT sensor company in Singapore, walked away with first prize of $5,000 in cash. XRVision, in which TNF Ventures is an investor, grabbed the second price of $3,000 while Captii Ventures-backed, Vietnamese agritech startup MimosaTEK earned $2,000 third prize.

The competition shortlisted 15 startups from Asia, Europe and Israel before choosing the top three. These companies are entitled to other perks which include consideration for up to S$40,000 pre-seed and seed funding from the TNB Accelerator Fund, and up to S$3 million series A investment from the TNB Aura Fund, as well as amenities in Singapore.

The smart city initiative is the latest in a series of innovation challenges by the MBI, which has ignited acceleration for startups in the areas of tourism, agritech and fintech.

The ADB and Australian government funded programme aims to promote the use of technology to solve the problems of affordable housing, traffic, waste management, environmental planning, water supply, energy usage, IoT farming, e-government, public security, healthcare and education.

The inaugural event, held in Vietnam, is based on actual demand in cities and provinces like Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang and Quang Nam. The event will be taken to other countries in the Mekong region.

The MBI also looks to increase the participation from the private sector, inviting more venture partners to join in next events. This year’s private stakeholder, TNB Ventures, has been looking at frontier tech startups since its inception in 2016.

“With Vietnam developing so rapidly and the requirements of urban dwellers often outpacing the city infrastructure, there has never been a greater need for innovative urban development solutions. The Smart City Innovation Challenge facilitates access to technologies and proven solutions from other parts of the world and assists in their adoption to local needs,” said Dominic Mellor, head of the MBI.

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