Amid the slew of VCs that have emerged across Southeast Asia, one sits inconspicuously in an industrial zone in Singapore’s Ang Mo Kio district. It is ST Engineering Ventures, the corporate venture capital (CVC) arm of Singapore’s engineering giant, ST Engineering.
The CVC is newly-formed. It’s barely a year old but comes with the backing of Singapore’s state investor, Temasek Holdings and over 50 years of government ties that has – for better or worse – allowed ST Engineering fulfil a critical role in Singapore’s nation-building journey. Today, ST Engineering is one of Asia’s largest defence and engineering groups. It is also one of the largest companies listed on the SGX.
Last year, ST Engineering Ventures launched a $150-million fund, joining the likes of CVCs like MDI Ventures (Telkom Indonesia), VinaCapital Ventures (VinaCapital) and Digital Ventures (Siam Commercial Bank), all of which have set up funds of $100 million or more in the last two years.
Like any CVC, ST Engineering Ventures is less concerned about record dry powder in the ecosystem than extracting strategic value from its portfolio companies. Deal flows are healthy and there is little urgency to clock returns. What ST wants to do is play the long game.
ST Engineering Ventures plans to set up tech centres in the US and Israel in 2019. These tech centres will build an overseas presence, get them into exclusive circles, maybe pocket some deals.
The CVC also sees itself as the conduit between startups and end-customers, especially in the B2B and B2G space, where some buy-in from larger institutional players is needed.
Low Ka Hoe, Chief Strategy Officer of ST Engineering, said: “Especially in the B2B or B2G space, it’s really important. It’s also very important in smart cities and deep tech. Our end customers will typically require some validation or a bigger vendor that can stand behind some of these solutions, and that’s the kind of role that we play.”
In an exclusive interview with DealStreetAsia, Low shares that the CVC currently has five portfolio companies in the pipeline, with a new one due in coming months. ST Engineering Ventures focuses on robotics, autonomous technology, data analytics and cybersecurity.
Some of ST Engineering Ventures’ investments include RideOS, a Silicon Valley-based transportation tech platform, Radiflow, an Israel-based cybersecurity firm, and Janus Technologies, a US-based cybersecurity firm.