Investors of the Week | Asia Business Outlook

 Asia Business Outlook Team

Bootstrapping a startup is the norm, but in order to scale it to great heights, secure access to latest technologies, a support system, produce products at a faster rate or even if its acquisition of other firms, a support system is needed. Investors and venture capitalists provide aspiring entrepreneurs with capital and other financial resources provided their interests align.

This week the firms which have added new feathers to their cap range from a small digital financing platform operating in SEA to one of India’s biggest players in the startup funding space.    

Funding Societies

Funding Societies, Southeast Asia’s largest unified small and medium enterprises (SME) digital finance platform, announced on Thursday that it had raised $7.5 million in debt from Norfund, a Development Financial Institution (DFI) that operates a Norwegian government-owned investment fund for developing countries.

According to Funding Societies, this is Norfund’s first debt transaction with a FinTech SME lender in Southeast Asia. It should be noted that DFIs in Southeast Asia have consistently invested about $ 2 billion per year between 2017 and 2022 (a total of more than $12 billion).

Over half of these investments went into the financial services sector, with debt instruments accounting for the vast majority of the capital deployed. Due to their strong financial position, DFIs have the capacity and capabilities to assist SMEs where commercial lenders and governments cannot.

This is where Norfund comes in, as one of its core investment areas is increasing financial inclusion, and it has contributed approximately $4.54 billion in lending to 7.5 million clients to date.

Clay Capital

Clay Capital, a Singapore-based venture capital firm, has announced fund two, a $145 million global fund to reconnect and strengthen the link between human health and global health through innovative technology.

In a statement issued on Oct 31, the company stated that it is looking for ambitious European and Asian entrepreneurs who are using technology to address fundamental issues in the food system today and who have a vision for a more sustainable, nutritious, and circular approach to farming, food production, and consumption in the coming decade. Food and energy security, according to the statement, are increasingly in the spotlight, with both emerging as every nation’s greatest asset and greatest risk. Clay Capital believes that a resilient system is inherently healthy and secure.

The company intends to invest in new technology that will result in a more secure food system and positive returns for people’s and the planet’s health. According to the statement, Europe has become the firm’s primary focus due to its strong food culture, ongoing commitment to sustainability, and start-ups that are more adaptable and capable of rapidly expanding beyond their local borders.

Polaris Partners

Engine Biosciences, a Singapore-based firm that uses machine learning and high-throughput biology to discover and develop precision oncology medicines, announced the completion of a $27 million Series A extension on Wednesday.

Polaris Partners led the financing, with participation from both new and existing investors, bringing the total funds raised since inception to $86 million, according to a statement from Engine Biosciences.

Existing investors ClavystBio (a life sciences venture investor set up by Temasek), Invus, and Singapore-based global investor EDBI, as well as new investors Coronet Ventures (a Singapore-based investment entity of Cedars Sinai Intellectual Property Company) and SEEDS Capital (investment arm of Enterprise Singapore), are also participating, according to the statement.

In conjunction with the financing, Wen Qi Ho Ph.D., Therapeutics Lead at ClavystBio, joined Engine Biosciences’ Board of Directors. With the additional funds secured, Engine Biosciences said it will further advance its biomarker and target discoveries toward the clinic through internal development, collaborations, and partnerships.

Java Capital

Java Capital, an India-based deep tech venture capital fund, announced the final close of its INR 50 crore ($6 million) fund on Oct 31. According to a statement from Java Capital, the fund has seen participation from established founders from the Indian startup ecosystem, as well as high net worth individuals (HNIs) from India, the Middle East, and the United States.

With this successful closing, Java Capital intends to open a greenshoe portion of INR 25 Crores in response to limited partners’ (LPs’) ongoing interest. Java Capital’s mission, according to the statement, is to build a portfolio of startups in deep tech, climate tech, and business to business (B2B). The fund’s commitment to fostering technology and sustainability is in line with the global demand for innovation in these areas.

AuditCue, Okulo Aerospace, Oorja, Pre-image, and Frigate are among the five companies in which the fund has already invested. These investments demonstrate Java Capital’s dedication to identifying and assisting startups that are pushing the boundaries of technology and sustainability. This reflects the fund’s discipline and consistency in sticking to its focused thesis of investing in deeptech and climate startups. Previously, Java invested in Agnikul Cosmos, The Eplane Company, Cynlr, KUKU FM, Eat Better, Codingal, and YellowMetal.

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