DBS Bank sets up $10M fund for Singapore startups

Singapore bank says it's putting aside S$10 million over five years to support the local startup community with various initiatives, such as accelerator partnerships.

DBS Bank says it is setting aside S$10 million over the next five years to fund various initiatives to support the Singapore startup ecosystem.

These would include DBS-owned programmes, collaborations with accelerators, and other startup activities, the local bank said in a statement Friday.

One such effort featured its pre-accelerator scheme, DBS HotSpot, which would award S$25,000 as well as provide workspace and access to industry mentors to very early-stage startups to help them develop their ideas. The three-month programme would not require DBS to have an equity in participating startups, which also would not be required to have an existing prototype or operating business.

DBS Chief Innovation Officer Neal Cross said: "For many aspiring entrepreneurs, taking that initial plunge, leaving their stable jobs, and following their startup dreams can be a daunting process. The DBS HotSpot is designed to support local startups in the very early stages of testing their ideas and getting them off the ground. Subsequently, we will continue to support them through later stage accelerators and industry programmes."

Startups accepted into the DBS HotSpot initiative would work with industry mentors including angel investors and DBS executives, the bank said, adding that 11 startups had participated in the programme and the Singapore startup community had expressed interest in its second intake. Applications for this would open in the first quarter of 2016.

DBS' innovation group startup and ecosystems lead, Max Tiong, said: "We discovered that there are many Singaporeans, from all walks of life, who have great business ideas. But an idea is just an idea unless you go out and do something about it."

Tiong added that the first intake of 11 startups had gone through a "rigorous programme" of testing and finetuning their ideas, with the aim of converting these into commercially viable offerings. These included Mirri, a startup that tapped gamification to encourage people to run; Nickel, which allows migrant workers to remit funds home quickly; and InvoiceInterchange, which aims to help small and midsize businesses auction unpaid invoices for quick cash.

The latter two had been accepted into the Startupbootcamp FinTech FastTrack scheme, and investors had expressed interest in InvoiceInterchange.