Smart city-focused venture funds launch in Singapore with $160m kitty

Singapore downtown. Photo: bady qb/unsplash

Smart city-focused venture capital funds worth $160 million have been launched in Singapore, underscoring the growing investor interest in the sector.

The funds are Singapore-based GBCI Ventures’ $100-million smart city fund and CleanGrid Partners’ $60-million clean energy fund.

GBCI Ventures’ first smart city fund will cover robotics, artificial intelligence, big data, Internet of Things (IoT) and virtual reality. According to local reports, its limited partners include corporates, family offices and high net worth individuals. The VC is also reportedly in talks with 50 startups and aims to provide them with technology access and go-to-market support.

CleanGrid Partners has been formed by WEnergy Global, ICMG Partners and Greenway Grid Global.

WEnergy Global is a Singapore-based company which focuses on clean electrification projects in Southeast Asia, while ICMG Partners is a management consulting firm with offices in Singapore, Tokyo, Shanghai and Silicon Valley. Greenway Grid Global is backed by Tokyo Electric Power Company PowerGrid Inc (TEPCO PowerGrid) and invests in microgrid projects in Southeast Asia.

CleanGrid Partners fund aims to build a portfolio of electrification projects valued at $100 million within three to four years. The fund will also finance renewable energy projects in Southeast Asia.

According to an official statement, $20 million from this fund is currently available for short term deployment. WEnergy Global has already begun investing in a microgrid project the in Philippines’ Palawan as part of its electrification plan. Several other projects in the Philippines, Indonesia and Myanmar are also in the pipeline.

Gen Funahashi, Director of ICMG Partners, said: “We believe that investors, development and commercial banks and technology manufacturers worldwide must address the challenge to electrify the one billion people on our planet who have no or little access to electricity – of which over 100 million people live in Southeast Asia. We can make an impact by leveraging on the best available intellectual capital and transforming the management mindset of companies and governments to bring innovative clean energy solutions to this part of the world”.

The Singapore government has taken on an ambitious mandate to transform the city under its Smart Nation Initiative that covers areas such as payments, mobility and big data.

The Smart Nation Drive, however, has not gone without its share of blunders. SingHealth, the city-state’s largest health institution, suffered a major cyber breach last year, resulting in over 1.5 million stolen health records. The incident prompted a nationwide debate about the drawbacks of the initiative.