Singtel has announced that it will invest a further US$100 million (S$138 million) into its corporate venture arm, Singtel Innov8, raising its total capital commitment to US$350 million.
Innov8 invests in start-ups that align with Singtel Group businesses in the areas of 5G, artificial intelligence (AI), the digital economy, sustainability, cybersecurity 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, the United States, China, Israel and Australia.
Innov8 has invested in over 95 start-ups since its inception in 2010 and has had over 35 exits, according to Singtel Innov8 CEO, Edgar Hardless.
Four of the exits were unicorns - Arista, Ruckus, Jasper, and Shape.
Innov8’s portfolio also includes companies, such as BitSight, Carro, Cato, FinAccel, SenseTime, Shopback, and Sygnum, that have achieved scale, Hardless said.
Some 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.
Singtel’s Group CEO, Yuen Kuan Moon, said the capital infusion was meant for identifying and growing “innovative start-ups with new technologies and capabilities that are synergistic and in lockstep with Singtel’s strategic reset”.
“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,” he said.
Hardless said 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.