Temasek turns its attention to health, edtech investments after pandemic

Photo: Bloomberg

Singapore’s Temasek Holdings Pte is in active talks to make its first direct investment in health care and education tech startups in Southeast Asia, said the company’s chief investment strategist.

The Covid-19 outbreak this year has fueled demand for digital health and education services, prompting the state investment firm to review potential targets to add to its $227 billion portfolio. Temasek has been turning its attention to the two nascent sectors, though it has so far preferred to invest indirectly via venture capital funds that it backs in the region.

“We see multi-billion-dollar companies emerging from these sectors over the next few years,” Rohit Sipahimalani, who also serves as head of Southeast Asia at Temasek, said in an interview. “We are in active dialogue with some of them right now, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we do make an investment.” He declined to identify specific target companies.

The strategy underscores Temasek’s bet on Southeast Asia’s digital economy, which is poised to triple to more than $300 billion by 2025 after growth cooled during the pandemic, according to research it jointly compiled with Google and Bain & Co. The annual report, which primarily studies four key areas including e-commerce, dedicated a section to health and education tech for the first time when it was released on Tuesday.

During the pandemic, major digital health-care apps saw usage increase by four times, while leading education apps were used three times more, the study showed. That has led to growing investment in countries like Indonesia, where there isn’t enough doctors and hospitals to meet the needs of the country’s nearly 300 million people.

In education, a large portion of funds are going into online learning platforms. In December, Indonesia’s Ruangguru raised $150 million from investors including EV Growth, a venture capital fund backed by Temasek, marking one of the largest financing rounds for a Southeast Asian startup.

E-commerce will continue to be an attractive area for Temasek, Sipahimalani said. Temasek and Google agreed to inject about $350 million in Indonesian online marketplace Tokopedia, Bloomberg News reported last month.

The annual report showed that the region will see a 63% increase in e-commerce gross merchandise value this year, as home-bound consumers pick up groceries and essentials from the likes of Lazada’s RedMart and Sea Ltd.’s Shopee during the lockdowns. Online shopping is now forecast to hit $172 billion by 2025 versus a previous $153 billion estimate.

Bloomberg

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.