SGX is revving up support for the Singapore’s tech startup scene. Here’s how

By Yon Heong Tung for e27,

It wants to become a platform for startups to raise funds, and is raising awareness through events, workshops and various outreach events

For more than a decade, the Singapore government has been a magnanimous supporter of the local tech startup ecosystem. Through various grants, including SPRING Singapore’s ACE Startup grant, accelerator programmes through the Singapore infocomm Technology Federation (SiTF), and other initiatives, such as its holistic Smart Nation programme, local startups have been able to see their concepts and efforts come to fruition.

In addition, through the government’s creation of an investor-friendly market, many high profile venture capital firms, such as Gree Ventures and Golden Gate Ventures, have set up shop here. Bigger corporations, such as the Singapore Exchange (SGX), are also looking to plant their stake in the burgeoning tech economy.

Here is breakdown of SGX’s involvement in the past year and its plans beyond.

Raising awareness about SGX’s commitment to boosting the tech ecosystem

Throughout the year, SGX has been keeping abreast of the latest tech trends through continuous engagement with the startup community.

In January, SGX, in collaboration with Golden Gate Ventures, hosted the “New Year’s Toast to the Next Frontier” to discuss the trends behind tech IPOs. It also served as a platform to raise awareness about SGX’s interests in the digital space, and facilitate discussions between the new economy entrepreneurs and investors and the traditional professional and investing economy.

It participated in a host of startup conferences including, Echelon Malaysia, Echelon Thailand, TechInAsia Indonesia and InnovFest unBound, as well as the official launch of the startup cluster, JTC launchpad. It also organised small networking events such as, Vinobytes, where invited digital entrepreneurs could network while taking a tour of CornerStone Wines, a winery in Singapore.

Raising awareness was not enough, SGX sought to educate investors and market professionals on the tech ecosystem.

In October and December, it held two of its investor education seminars, addressing digital trends and how to value startups; attracting about 200 attendees from a mixture of backgrounds, including retail investors and market professionals. Among the speakers were Shashank Dixit, Founder and CEO of Deskera, Andy Tai, Executive Director of Investment Banking, Goldman Sachs, and Norma Sit, CEO of Numoni. It also held smaller seminars called “Kopi Chat” sessions in the same period.

Building networks and striking up partnerships

With the aim of developing a more dynamic market for growth companies to raise funds, in January, SGX partnered Clearbridge Accelerator to establish a capital-raising platform for early-stage small and medium enterprises (SMEs) CapBridge. In its agreement, SGX pledged to funnel a non-recourse grant of S$1.5 million (US$1.08 million) to Clearbridge Accelerator into this venture.

In October, it organised the FinTechathon Asia—the first fintech hackathon in Asia—in collaboration with fintech startup accelerator Startupbootcamp. In the event, 56 hackers were grouped into 14 teams, and awarded S$2,500 (US$1,800) for the best overall concept, S$1,000 (US$700) for the best challenge fit or technical solution and S$500 (US$350) for the best pitch.

The best overall concept was awarded to SGX Sparcx (no affiliation with SGX), which sought to improve SME lending leveraging on existing ACRA databases and building an ecosystem around it to detect fraud and bad credit history.

In January, it was the sponsor for Kauffman Fellow’s first ever SEA Venture Summit – an event to gather a global community of leading VCs to engage with local leaders, policymakers and CEOs. Among the key speakers include Vinnie Lauria, Founding Partner of Golden Gate Ventures, Piyush Gupta, CEO of DBS and Ambassador Kirk Wager from the US Embassy of Singapore.

Going forward

This year, SGX is gearing up for more collaborative efforts with the start-up and digital sectors.

SGX plans to expand its investor education series into a 10-part event, covering 10 key technology areas it highlighted in a research paper that was published last year.

It will also continue its participation in startup conferences and open houses such as Walkabout SG, and engagement with overseas investors, with the aim of connecting the professional community to tech startups.