Singtel VC arm Innov8 stumps-up $100m of new funds for 5G, AI, and IoT startups
Singapore Telecommunications (Singtel) has said it will invest a further $100 million in 5G, AI, and IoT startups via its Singtel Innov8 corporate venture arm. The new funds will take its total capital commitment to $350 million. New investments will be focused on early- and growth-stage companies in Southeast Asia, the US, China, Israel, and Australia, it said. Its stated interests also include “digital economy, sustainability, cyber security, and emerging tech”.
Innov8 has invested in over 95 start-ups since it started in 2010 and has had over 35 ‘exits’. Four of these – Arista, Ruckus, Jasper, and Shape – were ‘unicorns’, it said, each achieving a valuation in excess of $1 billion. Its portfolio also includes a number of companies that have “demonstrated scale”; the firm cited BitSight, Carro, Cato, FinAccel, SenseTime, Shopback, and Sygnum as examples.
The firm reinvests returns from portfolio exits into new investments. Recent investments in high growth start-ups include wealth-tech platform Endowus and AI “talk-bot” company Wiz.ai, both based in Singapore; the latter offers an interactive automated call centre agent that converses in locally-accented Southeast Asian languages. Innov8 offers startups collaboration with other Singtel group business units, plus with academia and local authorities.
Yuen Kuan Moon, group chief executive at Singtel and chair of Innov8, said: “This… infusion is… for identifying and growing innovative start-ups… in lockstep with Singtel’s strategic reset to drive greater improvements in core operations, accelerate new growth engines, and place us at the forefront of new and fast-evolving areas… We will recycle our assets and capital into selected growth areas, reshaping our portfolio to better serve our stakeholders.”
Edgar Hardless, chief executive at Innov8, said: “We believe in backing founders to execute on their vision and support… growth through partnerships… This additional funding and our proven approach will help drive further investment deal flow and greater collaboration with the start-up ecosystem, unlocking more value for both the Group and our portfolio companies.”