About the Innovation and Startup Desk in Singapore

Intro about the Desk, its mission and activities

Innovation desk in general is an initiative by ICE aka Italian trade agency for assisting the highly innovative Italian startups in expanding its business in domestic and offshore markets.

The placement of the innovation desks is in accordance with the importance of the cities and its close vicinity to the foreign investors for attracting investments towards the Italian startups. Apart from attracting investments; the innovation desks are involved in other innovative activities towards attracting Italian investment in the host countries for most happening initiatives by the country’s respective governments.



Last month, Savills increased its stake in Pegaxis, a home-grown online B2B platform for property maintenance services, from 8% to 15%, valuing the company at about $2.2 million. Mr Christopher Marriott, chief executive of Savills South-east Asia, said: "Savills has been tracking real estate tech for some years, with the first investment proposals in Asia having been made two to three years ago and the first actual investment in Singapore coming at the end of 2016 with Pegaxis, and in the middle of this year in Britain with Yopa ."

Property giant City Developments Limited (CDL) made its first investment in a technology start-up in 2012, through a subsidiary, taking a controlling stake in a United States start-up known as Whiteboard Labs, which was eventually merged with an existing company within the fold, says CDL deputy chief executive Sherman Kwek.

CapitaLand's serviced residence arm, The Ascott, invested US$50 million in Tujia, an online apartment-sharing platform dubbed China's Airbnb, last year. A joint venture was also set up, allowing Tujia to hand over some of its offline properties for Ascott to manage, showing that such partnerships often lead to win-win situations.


Banks and insurers have been steadily investing in their own technology and start-ups, as they try to stay ahead of the curve. At the inaugural FinTech Festival here last month, 23 financial institutions opened their fintech labs and innovation centres to visitors.

One of the latest was DBS Bank's Asia X fintech facility at one-north, the newest spot for its staff and start-ups to explore financial technology ideas. DBS has spent $5 billion in the past six years on IT and innovations and wants to improve in areas of online and paperless customer engagement. 

British insurer Aviva set up its new digital facility in Armenian Street earlier this year, after setting up the first such facility in London last year. The company's global annual investment in such facilities and other technology-related activities - including in Singapore - is more than US$150 million, it previously said.

Last year, AIA tied up with Nanyang Technological University to set up Edge Lab, an innovation centre, to discover consumer-centric solutions.


EY has committed to a US$500 million multi-year investment in data analytics.

KPMG opened an innovation lab called Digital Village here earlier this year, to help connect businesses to start-ups.


Full article was first published on The Straits Times on 28 December 2016.


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