Singapore

THE biggest integrated startup space in Singapore - a meeting place for tech-builders, innovators and investors - was launched on Wednesday to bring together partners of the tech-building community across the value chain.

Cheekily named BASH, for Building Amazing Startups Here, the facility at Block 79 JTC LaunchPad @ one-north is an initiative driven by Infocomm Investments Pte Ltd (IIPL), the investment arm of the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA).

In its 25,000 sq ft of space, IIPL hopes to provide all the necessary facilities, including a prototyping lab, as well as mentorship and community networks to grow promising, innovation-driven, tech-product startups, and take seeds of ideas from creation through to acceleration and incubation to expansion.

Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim, who was at the launch, said that IIPL had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) and Sunnyvale-headquartered global accelerator Plug and Play, to run a corporate-accelerator programme to build high-growth, Singapore-based digital media startups.

The first run is targeted to start by the middle of this year.

Dr Yaacob said large corporations such as SPH play an important role in the ecosystem as valuable pilot customers and test beds for young, early-stage tech entrepreneurs, providing them with the capital, domain knowledge and customer base to innovate.

SPH's chief executive Alan Chan said that, just as the media industry was undergoing changes, it was also presenting opportunities to young entrepreneurs to contribute their ideas and create an impact in the industry. "We are delighted to work with IIPL and Plug and Play on an accelerator programme to discover and support outstanding startups that will make a difference to our media scene," he said.

He disclosed that SPH had used its Media Fund to invest in Glints, a Singapore startup that has built a platform to match young employees focused on career-discovery and development with relevant internship or job opportunities.

The startup, which last July graduated from the Joyful Frog Digital Incubator, one of IIPL's accelerator partners, has since then secured venture-capital funding to the tune of S$475,000, led by early-stage venture fund East Ventures.

Glint's three 21-year-old Singaporean founders will be the first to benefit from BASH, where they will continue building their product and business under the mentorship of IIPL and other partners.

Like Glints, startup teams which have undergone acceleration can also be housed at BASH, so they continue receiving guidance as they build business traction and market access.

IIPL, which established a presence in London last October and in San Francisco more recently, will also help startups to expand into these leading tech-innovation hubs abroad.

In conjunction with the launch of BASH, IIPL held the finals of its Tyro.VC competition, which aims to discover young investment associates, and, in parallel, good early-stage innovation-driven tech startups through a first-of-its-kind reality show.

Members of the Draper Fisher Jurvetson Global Network, led by US venture capitalist Tim Draper, were also at BASH to interact with successful local tech startups such as HungryGoWhere and Zopim. Mr Draper shared his insights on early-stage venture capital investments with the local tech community.

Steve Leonard, the IDA's executive deputy chairman and chairman of IIPL, said: "We have made great progress in having global partners such as the European accelerator Startupbootcamp set up a FinTech-focused operation here in Singapore. As part of Singapore's journey towards becoming a Smart Nation, we are also working on some really tough global challenges brought on by the inevitable trends of ageing population and urban density.

"That's the purpose of having BASH - the go-to-place for tech builders, investors and innovators to do more great things together."

Multiple-accelerator programmes run with strong community partners such as London-based accelerator Startupbootcamp FinTech can now take place to mentor and build a strong pipeline of quality Singapore-based tech startups, he added.

Startupbootcamp FinTech has touched base with other mentors in Singapore's ecosystem, to grow its community network for the first run of its accelerator programme in May this year.