Singapore’s TNB Ventures and Australia-based fund manager Aura Group have achieved the first close of their joint TNB Aura Fund 1, which has a hard cap of S$30 million ($22.5 million) as its target deployable capital pool.
The fund is managed by Vicknesh R Pillay and Charles Wong, Head of Asia for Aura Group. Its mandate spans investments in embedded devices (e.g. Robotics & IOT), software & deep learning (e.g. Big Data & AI) and visualisation technologies (e.g. Mobile & AR/VR).
In an email exchange by this portal with Hazel Yeo, the Head of Business Development for TNB Ventures, she disclosed that the funds’ limited partners (LPs) include “a mix of institutional investors and UNHW individuals, all of whom provide strategic value to our portfolio companies”, with the fund having preference for “B2B companies that can provide complementary value to each other even if it’s across industry verticals.”
She said, “Our investment thesis is focused on IoT/IIoT, Robotics, Big Data, AI, AR/VR,”, adding, “TNB Aura Fund 1 provides go-to-market support and opportunities through our extensive corporate partner network (we run several corporate innovation programs with Ascendas, Magna, CrimsonLogic, Maritime Port of Authority, Asian Development Bank) within the broad theme of Smart City, which is very synergistic to the frontier technologies focus of our fund.”
She added that the fund would also enable its founder to “access mentors with solid business acumen and successful entrepreneurial experience,” with the preferred approach to an exit for the fund being an M&A transaction or a public listing, which the fund has experience with on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX).
In terms of the markets the fund is targeting, research by BCG indicates that the IOT market is forecast to see significant growth in revenue across all layers of the technology stack, with B2B spending on IOT technologies, apps and solutions set to grow to $267 billion by 2020.
Meanwhile, boutique AR/VR consulting and M&A firm Digi-Capital predicts that the AR/VR sector will become a two-speed market, with mobile AR set to have over twice the installed base at launch in 2017 than the entire AR/VR headset market by 2021.
TNB Ventures is an appointed co-investment partner of SPRING SEEDS Capital (SSC), the investment arm of SPRING Singapore. TNB Aura Fund 1 is one of five funds approved under the Singapore government’s AME co-investment scheme with SPRING SEEDS Capital providing matching funding for select deals.
Under the terms of this partnership, TNB and SPRING SEEDS Capital jointly invest in and incubate early-stage IoT, advanced manufacturing and engineering startups in Singapore by matching dollar for dollar, with a maximum joint investment quantum of up to S$4 million ($2.99 million) per venture.
According to its website, the fund invests up to S$3 million ($2.24 million) into startups at seed and Series A stages.
One of its recent transactions involved an investment into an undisclosed e-commerce and logistics startup in Vietnam in a Series A funding round although TNB Ventures has declined to identify the firm to date.