January 16, 2019

Singapore on road to become aquaculture tech hub, minister says


Singapore has a climate for innovation, strong talent base and strategic location, making it suitable to become a technology hub for aquaculture and urban agriculture in Asia-Pacific, said  the city-state's Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry.


During the Indoor Ag-Con Asia conference in Singapore, Dr. Koh Poh Koon perceived the nation as a catalyst for "technological and business innovations," The Straits Times reported. He highlighted Singapore's strength in "innovating how we produce food" and improve "food sustainability and traceability efforts", given the country's land scarcity and "farming constraints."

"Investments in agri-tech can also help to reduce our reliance on food imports and allow us to enjoy seasonal produce while lowering our carbon footprint," he added.

Those investments are realised through Seeds Capital, the investment arm of Enterprise Singapore, which appointed seven investment partners under Startup SG Equity, a scheme that encourages private-sector investment for start-ups.

Seeds Capital would support the growth of emerging and strategic sectors like agri-tech, by stimulating investment in innovative local start-ups. Under the partnership, early-stage tech start-ups focusing on food and agri-tech solutions will receive $90 million worth of investments.

The appointed partners are AgFunder, Hatch, ID Capital, Openspace, The Yield Lab, Trendlines and VisVires New Protein.

With Seeds Capital, the partners will assist early-stage start-ups, such as by introducing new business partners and providing support to enter new markets.

Seeds Capital will also provide co-funding of up to $4 million per deep tech start-up under Startup SG Equity.

"We are building a vibrant agri-tech start-up environment to uncover more talent, anchor experts, partners, investors and accelerators into our ecosystem, and expand the pool of knowledge and resources," Dr. Koh said.

Singapore is also building up "relevant research capabilities in areas such as seed formulation and fish nutrition, advanced biotech-based protein production and food safety science," he revealed. In addition, Singapore is setting up "a high-tech physical cluster" in the northwestern part of the country to drive "operations in urban agriculture and aquaculture."

Dr. Koh noted that Singapore's ambition to become "a leader in agriculture technology is still in the early days."

"I encourage industry representatives and leaders... to carry on your good work in leading the development of solutions and standards for the sector, to provide fertile ground for the germination of new ideas, technology matching and transfer, (and) capability development," he said.

- The Straits Times