Singtel has announced its plan to invest a further US$100 million into Singtel Innov8, its corporate venture arm, raising its total capital commitment to US$350 million.
One of the earliest corporate venture capital firms in Southeast Asia, Innov8 invests in start-ups that align with Singtel Group businesses in the areas of 5G, Artificial Intelligence, the digital economy, sustainability, cyber security and emerging technologies. It operates on an evergreen fund model, re-investing returns from portfolio exits into new investments. With the capital injection, Innov8 will further expand its portfolio of investments in Southeast Asia, United States, China, Israel and Australia.
“This capital infusion is meant for identifying and growing innovative start-ups with new technologies and capabilities that are synergistic and in lockstep with Singtel’s strategic reset to drive greater improvements in our core operations, accelerate our new growth engines, and place us at the forefront of new and fast-evolving areas,” said Yuen Kuan Moon, Group Chief Executive Officer of Singtel and Chairman of Singtel Innov8. “As we sharpen our business focus, we will recycle our assets and capital into selected growth areas, reshaping our portfolio to better serve our stakeholders and build momentum for the longer term.”
Edgar Hardless, Chief Executive Officer, Singtel Innov8 said, “Singtel Innov8 is empowered to move quickly to capture investment opportunities in the fast-paced venture market. Our mandate is flexible, allowing us to invest in both early and growth stage companies. We believe in backing founders to execute on their vision and support the company’s growth through partnerships with the Singtel Group. Innov8 facilitates access to businesses units across the Group’s footprint, evangelises innovative technologies within the Group, and supports partnerships with the business units. 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.”
Proven track record
Innov8 has invested in over 95 start-ups since its inception in 2010 and has had over 35 exits. Four of the exits were unicorns – Arista, Ruckus, Jasper, and Shape – start-ups that achieved a valuation in excess of US$1 billion. Innov8’s portfolio also includes a number of companies that have demonstrated scale – BitSight, Carro, Cato, FinAccel, SenseTime, Shopback, and Sygnum amongst others. Some of Innov8’s recent investments in notable high growth start-ups include Endowus, a leading wealth-tech platform, and Wiz.ai, which offers interactive AI-driven talk bots that have a human-like voice and can converse in Southeast Asian languages in the respective local accents.
Apart from investing capital, Innov8 facilitates access and partnerships with business units across the Singtel Group’s footprint and evangelises innovative technologies within the Group – thus facilitating meaningful and strategic collaborations. More than 350 commercial engagements with start-ups such as like BitSight, Silverfort, and Wiz.ai have been driven through such engagements. More information on these start-ups can be found in Annex A.
Innov8 has also helped shape the broader innovation ecosystem in the region, in partnership with academia and local authorities. For instance, it partnered with NUS and the Media Development Authority (MDA) in 2011 to co-create BLOCK71 Singapore, the largest start-up hub in Singapore and Southeast Asia that is also considered the world’s most densely packed start-up ecosystem, housing up to 1,000 startups, incubators, accelerators, investors, and government agencies. Innov8 also helped launch a second chapter, BLOCK71 in San Francisco in 2015 and the Innovation Cyber Security Ecosystem (ICE71) – Singapore’s first integrated regional cybersecurity hub in partnership with NUS, IMDA, and CSA in 2018.
BitSight is a US based Security Rating Platform. BitSight helps organizations manage their own security applying sophisticated algorithms and producing daily security ratings to mitigate third party risk, underwrite cyber insurance policies, conduct financial diligence, and assess aggregate risk. Singtel Innov8 has supported the company through multiple rounds of financing. Over the years, Singtel Innov8 has helped the company expand with numerous engagements both as a customer and go-to-market partner across Singtel Group’s footprint in Singapore, South East Asia, Australia and North America.
Silverfort is an Israeli-based leader in Identity Threat Protection, enabling secure authentication and access in a unified manner across all corporate resources, both on-premises and in the cloud, to detect and stop identity-based attacks including account takeover and ransomware propagation. Singtel is a client of Silverfort and has deployed the solution to thousands of users within the Group.
Wiz.ai is a Singapore-based company that offers cutting-edge conversational AI technology to help enterprises automate voice conversations and customer engagement. The company deploys talkbots that are designed to be hyper-realistic and human-like. The bots support a range of Southeast Asian languages and accents – Singlish, Mandarin, Manglish, Bahasa Indonesia, and Thai in addition to English. Wiz’s voice bots significantly reduce call center costs and allow flexibility in scaling call volumes as needed. Singtel is using Wiz to automate outbound calls within its Consumer and SME business units.