Singapore’s BASH turns one, inks five MoUs
By Benjamin Cher February 26, 2016
- Agreements with a variety of authorities and companies, including IBM
- Three new accelerators to be launched, new partners for global programme
INFOCOMM Investments Pte Ltd (IIPL), the investment arm of industry regulator Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), celebrated the first anniversary of its BASH (Build Amazing Startups Here) integrated co-working space by signing five Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs).
IIPL also announced it would be launching three new accelerators later this year.
“In just one year, six successful runs of accelerator programmes have taken place in BASH,” said Minister for Communications and Information Dr Yaacob Ibrahim.
“I am told that these runs have, over the course of the year, accelerated 65 startups in BASH alone, out of about 230 startups accelerated across the whole of Singapore,” he said in a speech commemorating the first year.
IIPL head Dr Alex Lin declared that BASH had “changed the whole ecosystem, bringing more events than people feel they have the time to attend – versus two years ago, when you hardly heard of such things.
“We pushed the engine and it moved, and the next thing we are focused on is scaling it,” he told Digital News Asia (DNA) on the sidelines of BASH’s birthday bash.
One such engine is its Global Startup Exchange programme, which aims to foster innovation and entrepreneurship, as well as enable market access between partners.
IIPL signed partnerships with Barcelona Activa and Sri Lanka’s Xeleration last November, and just added the Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority (DSOA) and Taiwan Startup Stadium to its list.
DSOA, wholly owned by the Dubai Government, is the regulatory body overseeing the Dubai Silicon Oasis, an integrated free zone technology park that includes research and development facilities, industrial zones, and offices.
Under the MoU between DSOA and IIPL, both parties will exchange case studies and best practices in entrepreneurship, market intelligence, and technology developments.
“Reiterating our commitment to young entrepreneurs in the region, we will work hand-in-hand to host suitable events that promote mutually beneficial business opportunities in Singapore and Dubai,” DSOA vice chairman and chief executive officer Dr Mohammed Alzarooni said in an official statement.
IIPL’s Lin said he was confident that “this partnership will invigorate each country’s startup ecosystem and help business partners tap into the immense potential that Asia has to offer in the technology domain.”
IIPL also signed MoUs with Rockstart Accelerator, Singapore Power, Accendas-Singbridge and China’s Runyang Group, which will see three new accelerators launched later this year.
Amsterdam-founded Rockstart Accelerator has supported over 1,600 founders and accelerated 68 startups since 2012, according to IIPL.
Rockstart Singapore edition will be part of a global programme with international linkages to Europe, South America and South-East Asia.
IIPL said this partnership was part of its continued efforts to create a strong pipeline of Singapore-based high-growth tech startups that can tackle important real-world challenges, and thus scale globally.
Applications for the accelerator open in May 2016, with the first batch targeted to start in the third quarter.
Meanwhile, Singapore Power (SP) will set up Spark Accelerator Pte Ltd, a joint venture with IIPL, to develop startups focused on the energy sector.
Spark Accelerator will be the first accelerator led by a utility company, and will invest up to S$4 million (US$2.8 million) to unearth startups with innovative solutions for the energy sector.
Under the accelerator, SP will also invest S$30,000 (US$21,000) into a startup in return for a 6% equity stake, and provide a complimentary working space at BASH.
“Singapore Power is committed to continuous innovation to meet the future needs of energy customers through integrated solutions that will improve the quality of life,” group chief executive officer Wong Kim Yin said in an official statement.
When asked how startups could benefit from the accelerator, Wong told DNA that SP “serves 1.4 million industrial, commercial and residential customers.
“Startups can leverage on SP’s expertise and networks, and gain access to industry insights, product experts, and market networks to develop and validate their business propositions,” he said via email.
Meanwhile, “SP will support next-generation ideas in areas such as energy efficiency, mobility, cybersecurity and on-demand customer service,” he added.
Applications for the Spark Accelerator programme open in the second quarter of 2016, with the programme targeted to start in the third quarter.
Finally, the Airmaker accelerator will also be launched this year as a joint venture between Acendas-Singbridge, China’s Runyan Group and IIPL. The accelerator will concentrate on Internet of Things (IoT) innovation in and outside Singapore.
It aims to foster startups working on connected home or city applications, including wearables, health and wellness, and energy, as well as connected industrial and manufacturing solutions.
Airmaker will also connect the startup ecosystems of Singapore and Shenzhen in China, and will add more ‘destination cities’ in the future, IIPL said.
Applications for Airmaker will open in the second quarter, with the programme targeted to start in mid-2016.
“The accelerator model that IIPL has pioneered in BASH has demonstrated great success in encouraging interaction, and catalysing innovation and enterprise in our infocomm media startup community,” said minister Yaacob.
“We believe IIPL’s proven acceleration model will create conducive environments for entrepreneurs in different sectors to grow their ideas into compelling products and services,” he added.
IIPL also announced a joint initiative with IBM Corp to build an ecosystem of startups and tech companies with an interest in developing cognitive-powered apps, through the Tag.Pass for IBM Watson programme.
IIPL also has a Tag.Pass (Technopreneur Action Group, Platform Accelerated Startups) programme with Cisco Systems Inc.
Under the agreement with IBM, IIPL will offer a customised acceleration programme over a period of three months, exclusively for companies building Watson applications as members of the IBM Watson Ecosystem.
Startups will get the opportunity to leverage IIPL’s startup development know-how, and IBM’s technical and business expertise to grow their business and solutions.
“With so much talent and creativity here in Singapore and Asia Pacific, we believe our partnership with IBM to embed Watson cognitive computing technology will help startups accelerate how entrepreneurial organisations solve their industry’s toughest challenges on a whole new level,” said Lin.
The Tag.Pass for IBM Watson programme offers startups and tech companies:
- Co-working space: At BASH;
- Education: IIPL will provide education including value proposition design, field interviews, problem solution validation and rapid prototyping to customer acquisition such as storyboarding, software/ hardware development, growth hacking, marketing and branding and sales;
- Mentoring: IBM will provide consultation to the participants in the form of master classes or office hours; and
- Demo days: Upon culmination of the programme, IIPL will host a ‘pitch day’ where participants will have the opportunity to pitch to investors or companies for investments or opportunities.
The first cohort of startups and tech companies to enter the programme will emerge from the IBM Watson New Venture Challenge, a cognitive pitch competition targeting Asia Pacific-based startups and tech companies to share their ideas for new Watson-powered applications, IIPL said.
The six-week competition is ongoing and will culminate in a pitch competition between finalists on March 10 in Singapore for a place in the Tag.Pass for IBM Watson programme.
“We are living in a cognitive era where digital business meets digital intelligence. IBM’s mission is to help companies become more competitive, leveraging cognitive computing capabilities,” said IBM Singapore managing director Tim Greisinger.
“Through Tag.Pass for IBM Watson, we are helping startups and tech companies turn innovative ideas into real business solutions across retail, travel, healthcare, public sector, finance and more,” he said in a statement.
As April 1 approaches, the impending merger of IDA with the Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA) into the Infocomm Media Development authority of Singapore (IMDA) will have implications across all IDA and MDA entities.
IIPL is no exception, but Lin (pic) argued that the changes will not be as jarring as a corporate restructuring.
“For us, we will fall under the IMDA as we are a commercial-facing entity,” he told DNA.
“Will there be any change? Definitely there will be some changes. With IMDA, we will begin to also handle things such as games, media technology, and anything related to media,” he added.
However, the increasing linkages between ICT, or infocomm as Singapore defines it, and media will make this transition easier, according to Lin.
“If you look at the whole system, infocomm is almost everywhere, a lot of things are interlinked – for example, in a game there are in-game purchases and information flow. In-game purchases can be seen as financial technology and can even go beyond that.
“People will start having physical objects that can be input into the game via NFC (Near-Field Communications), so all these things are inter-related,” he added.
Ultimately, IIPL will still be doing what it knows best and sticking to its charter of acceleration and building startups, only this time, it would not be limited purely to infocomm or infocomm-media, Lin declared.
One example is the MoU with SP, “which brings together people in the power grid and power generation fields,” he noted.
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