A compilation of important news from the startup world:
Agriculture tech startup Indigo raises $100 million in new funding
Agriculture technology startup Indigo has raised $100 million in a new round of funding, bringing its total financing to more than $150 million, a sign of growing investor interest in new ways to ease food scarcity. The $100 million investment led by the Alaska Permanent Fund, a $54.3 billion fund owned and managed by the state of Alaska, is believed to be the largest single financing round into the private ag-tech sector, Indigo said on Thursday.
KK Fund announces second fund for early-stage startups in Southeast Asia
Good news for early-stage startup founders in Southeast Asia: KK Fund just completed the first close of a new fund for seed stage investments. This second fund is larger but undisclosed, like the firm’s first, but it is notable because it comes less than two years after that inaugural fund and its LP base is another reminder of strong interest in Southeast Asia from Japan. Tokyo-listed duo Sega Sammy Holdings and ad firm Septeni Holdings invested in the fund, alongside investment group Mistletoe, and a number of undisclosed family offices and individuals from Japan, the firm said. Singapore-based KK Fund was founded in 2014 by general partners Kuan Hsu, formerly of GREE Ventures, and Koichi Saito, formerly with IMJ Investment. It has invested in more than a dozen deals from its first fund, which Saito told TechCrunch is not fully spent. That means that, in some cases, KK Fund will make investments across both of its funds.
As Brexit upsets UK start-up scene, Asian investors, advisors look for opportunity
When ScreenCloud’s CEO Mark McDermott woke up to the shock news that Britain had voted to leave the EU, a string of expletives crossed his mind. “I felt pretty numb,” he told CNBC via email from London. “I was pretty much glued to the news on television after that. I couldn’t believe we had hit the self-destruct button on our own economy.” Britain’s referendum decision on June 23 to divorce the EU has created a wave of uncertainty for the U.K. tech scene, and ScreenCloud – an early-stage digital signage business started by McDermott in 2014 – was one of many start-ups caught in the cross fire.
Kiwi company named APAC’s Best Startup for Social Impact
New Zealand’s Odocs has been named Asia Pacific’s Best Start Up – Social Impact in the annual Talent Unleashed awards. oDocs, whose offerings turn iPhones into specialised eye exam tools, was presented with the award at an event in Melbourne, beating out companies from around Asia Pacific and will now go on to compete in the global grand final. The annual tech and entrepreneurial awards aim to celebrate the best and boldest in technological innovation, especially startups, SMEs and ‘challenger’ companies. oDocs launched in 2014 and gained attention by open sourcing a retinal camera for smartphones, enabling clinicians to easily and affordably diagnose eye issues.
Nine startups selected for DBS HotSpot 2016 Pre-Accelerator program
Following an intense three months of training and experimentation, nine startups were selected from DBS’s HotSpot Bootcamp to move on to the next stage – the Pre-Accelerator. The DBS HotSpot Pre-Accelerator is designed to cultivate entrepreneurship in Singapore through experimentation, mentorship and training. DBS HotSpot, in its second edition, attracted over 250 applications from diverse sectors, including finance and digital technology, food and beverage and travel. In addition to those from the start-up community, the programme welcomed social entrepreneurs and aspiring innovators from within DBS itself – the bank encourages its own staff with innovative ideas to take part. Out of these, 29 teams were chosen for the DBS HotSpot Bootcamp before nine were eventually picked for the final segment of the programme. As part of the Pre-Accelerator, the nine teams will receive a SGD 25,000 entrepreneur award, which does not require the teams to give up any equity. This will give them a boost as they continue to focus on product development and sales strategies. They will also receive legal advice and training on skills such as marketing and pitch presentations as they work towards securing funding from the investment community.
Maturing FinTech Startups Find Paths into Established Financial Firms
Ten startups gathered on Manhattan’s far west side Wednesday for what now has become a familiar exercise: Demo day at the local FinTech accelerator. At the event, hosted by Startupbootcamp, participants touted products and shared stories about the challenges of getting banks to incorporate new technology. Tech startups are establishing a larger commercial relationship with banks and other financial institutions, and even having an impact on their business. Yet it can take time and considerable effort to establish those relationships. The steps to become an approved IT vendor at a financial services firm include layers of tests and vetting that can take 18 months, said Nektarios Liolios, chief executive and co-founder of Startupbootcamp. “It’s for good reason, to protect them from failures. But it can block the use of good technology,” said Mr. Liolios, who previously spent nine years at the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or Swift, a cooperative that runs the international messaging system between banks.