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16 Jul 2019 Updated 17 Jul 2019

Address by DCEO Ted Tan at the Launch of Agri-food Tech Accelerator, GROW



ON 16TH JULY 2019, 7:25 PM- 7:35 PM


Your Excellency, Mr Bruce Gosper, High Commissioner of Australia,

Mr Michael Dean and Dr Christine Pitt, Executive Directors of GROW,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen.

  1. A very good evening to all. It is my pleasure to be here with you for the launch of GROW, the agri-food tech accelerator programme jointly developed by AgFunder and Rocket Seeder. How time flies –  feels like it was just yesterday at Future Food Asia that I welcomed GROW to the list of reputable global accelerators that have anchored in Singapore. In truth, the GROW team had worked very hard in a short time to bring the accelerator to fruition. My heartiest congratulations to Michael and Christine!

  2. A vibrant & self-sustaining startup ecosystem is key to support the emergence of new ideas

  3. Today, Singapore houses more than 40,000 startups, of which 4,000 are tech startups, in areas like biotech, medtech, fintech and agri-food tech. All these startups have access to a strong network of over 300 investors and 100 incubators and accelerators here in Singapore. Venture funding activity is also buzzing, having grown from US$0.8 billion in 2012 to US$10.5 billion in 2018.

  4. To ensure that our startup ecosystem remains vibrant and self-sustaining, it is critical to have a strong infrastructure in place to support our startups throughout different phases of growth. Three areas in particular are crucial – 1) catalysing innovation; 2) expanding networks; and 3) going global

  5. First, catalysing innovation

  6. For innovation to flourish, the right infrastructure, both financial and non-financial, must be in place. In the agri-food tech space for example, Enterprise Singapore’s investment arm, SEEDS Capital, has appointed seven co-investment partners earlier this year to catalyse more than S$90 million worth of investments into deep tech and early stage agri-food tech startups, in order to create disruptive agri-food solutions. This is to support innovation in the way food is produced so as to keep pace with ageing population trends in developed countries, the shift towards sustainable business practices and the heightened consumer interest in health and nutrition.

  7. Financing opportunities aside, the ecosystem has also benefited from events such as Future Food Asia and Indoor Ag-Con Asia, which have been instrumental in connecting international stakeholders across the value chain to co-create and co-innovate. It is through these platforms that our Singapore companies and startups can establish mindshare, spark collaborations and nurture long-term relationships.

  8. Second, expanding networks

  9. We are happy that best-in-class agri-food tech accelerators like GROW have chosen Singapore as home. These accelerators provide valuable mentorship for our bright minds and, through their vast networks of technical experts and potential investors, they bridge the gap between ideation, product development and commercialisation. As one of the most active agri-food tech investors in the world, AgFunder has made 20 investments into agri-food tech companies from Seed to Series B within just 13 months, at levels of between US$400,000 to US$1 million per investment. Its partner, Rocket Seeder, is one of Australia’s leading agri-food tech accelerators. Rocket Seeder has successfully attracted a strong and diverse portfolio of agri-food tech startups in Australia through its 14-week accelerator programme. Its alumni have since gone on to secure distribution deals with premium supermarkets and top restaurants, and have also won industry awards both domestically and internationally.

  10. We are confident that this marriage between the two reputable institutions will result in many high quality agri-food tech startups; startups that can shape the future of Singapore’s agri-food ecosystem.

  11. GROW’s presence in Singapore will go a long way to cement Singapore as the destination of choice for agri-food tech startups and investments. 

  12. Lastly, going global

  13. As we continue to harness capabilities in science and technology to thrust our food production capabilities forward, there are tremendous opportunities for us to grow beyond our borders.

  14. Between Australia and Singapore, there are parallels to be drawn in the hunger to develop our agri-food sectors, especially in the areas of R&D and innovation. We are both committed in our endeavour to bring people together to create meaningful solutions for real-world challenges.

  15. Special thanks to the Australian High Commissioner for his continued support in facilitating opportunities for collaboration and co-innovation between Australia and Singapore. Two months back, at this same venue, we announced Enterprise Singapore’s partnership with BlueChilli to support startups in the development of innovative healthcare solutions for Southeast Asia. Tonight, the launch of GROW for the agri-food tech sector celebrates another milestone in our bilateral relationship and I am both glad and proud to be back. With AgFunder’s and Rocket Seeder’s combined years of experience in agri-food startup development, I am sure the ideas and technologies that emerge will enhance the lives of many of us.

  16. I am delighted to add that the partnership between our countries in the agri-food space extends beyond startups. Under FoodInnovate, the initiative led by Enterprise Singapore, we have tied up with the Victorian government and the Food Innovation Centre in Monash University for a food innovation challenge. This is where Singapore-based food manufacturers will have the chance to co-develop food products with high commercialisation potential for the Australia and New Zealand markets.

  17. There is always more room for mutual exchange and synergies. We look forward, therefore, to building stronger partnerships with our Australian counterparts in other industries.

  18. Conclusion

  19. To conclude, I would like to say to GROW that we are very excited to be part of your growth in Asia to help startups to catalyse innovation, expand networks and go global. We look forward to meeting the first startup cohort. We wish you the best as you kick-start your programme.

  20. Among us tonight are corporates, venture capitalists, financiers, government agencies and other industry stakeholders. This is a great chance to mingle and network. Who knows, you might find yourself involved in the next big thing in agri-food!

  21. Together, let’s GROW a vibrant agri-food tech ecosystem here in Singapore.

  22. Thank you.