Singtel Innov8 has announced a new program which opens doors for startups to collaborate with Singtel to create innovative solutions for business challenges faced by the Singtel Group.
Through Singtel Innov8 Connect which was launched on January 12, selected startups will receive up to S$75,000 to test and validate their solutions with Singtel. Successful solutions may lead to commercialization with the Singtel Group, providing startups access to the Group’s customer base which includes both enterprises and consumers and over 575 million mobile customers across Asia, Australia, and Africa. They will also have the opportunity to seek funding from Singtel Innov8 and tap on its network of co-investors and partners across the globe.
The move is a step forward from the existing initiatives across the Singtel Group, where affiliates run programs that actively support startups and entrepreneurship programs. Globe Telecom in the Philippines, for example, has Kickstart Ventures, a corporate venture capital firm that makes investments in digital startups ranging from seed to Series “C” stage. Other startup-oriented initiatives are run in affiliate operators, namely AIS in Thailand, Telkomsel in Indonesia, and Optus in Australia.
Kickstart in particular runs two funds: Fund 1 is the original US$5Million seed-to-early-stage investment fund focused on startups that originate in the Philippines with an ambition to expand at least regionally; and Fund 2, announced in March 2015, is its US$50Million growth stage fund focused on strategically-aligned startups anywhere in the world. Demonstrating collaboration across the Singtel group, Kickstart and Singtel Innov8 invested last year in Teridion, an Israel-based startup focused on network optimization and content acceleration.
“This development not only serves as another opportunity for Philippine startups to penetrate the global market and realize their global growth aspirations but also gives Globe and the rest of the Singtel Group a chance to benefit from the innovations that these startups may bring. Kickstart’s mission is to break down barriers and to build bridges to enable close and relevant engagement between the business community and the startup founders. Working with Singtel on Innov8 Connect will drive that goal forward,” said Minette Navarrete, President of Kickstart.
Kickstart is a founding member of Innov8 Sparks, Singtel’s network of startup support and funding initiatives across Southeast Asia. It currently has 25 portfolio companies with various products and services encompassing SaaS (Software as a Service), e-commerce, social impact, digital lifestyle, FinTech, and HealthTech, several of which have already ventured to other countries.
Edgar Hardless, CEO of Singtel Innov8 said: “Since Innov8’s launch in 2010, we have invested and partnered with many talented startups globally to help them expand their businesses and introduce innovative technologies to the Singtel Group.”
“Entrepreneurs are looking for problems to solve. This programme enables Singtel to share real-world business challenges and invite solutions from startups globally. It is an excellent opportunity for startups to work directly with Singtel’s business units and validate their solutions,” he added.
Mr. Peter Ho, CEO of Hope Technik, a Singtel Innov8 portfolio company said: “The investment and support from Singtel Innov8 have really helped Hope Technik punch above its weight class. Through Singtel, we have a better understanding of the opportunities and challenges faced by large enterprises, which allows us to create more relevant and impactful solutions.”
As the venture arm of the Singtel Group, Singtel Innov8’s mandate is to scout for and provide the Group with insights and early access to emerging technologies, as well as to nurture the innovation ecosystem in Southeast Asia. Innov8 Connect is part of Singtel Innov8’s initiatives to create greater awareness for Singtel’s innovation agenda and engagement with startup ecosystems.
Through the Innov8 Connect portal (innov8connect.com), Singtel Innov8 will publish briefs detailing various business challenges. startups with relevant solutions are welcomed to submit their applications through the portal. Selected startups will then be invited to pitch to a panel of management representatives from the Singtel Group. After a rigorous selection process, one company per brief will be chosen to work with Singtel to trial its solution.
The first set of 10 project briefs are focused on business challenges in areas such as enterprise cloud, smart and safe city and customer experience. The briefs are now open for submission from all startups in the Philippines and across the globe at http://innov8connect.com.