VC fund to target S'pore, China digital media firms

Worth US$73.9 million, new venture capital fund will identify early- and growth-stage digital media and technology companies in both countries, and support their efforts to penetrate either Asian market.

A new venture capital (VC) fund has been made available to help digital media startups in China and Singapore break into either Asian market.

The S$100 million (US$73.9 million) Gobi Singapore-China Media Ventures Fund will target early- and growth-stage digital media and technology companies, according to a statement released Monday by Singapore's Media Development Authority (MDA).

The fund, which is structured as 50 percent Singapore dollars and 50 percent Chinese yuan, will be managed in Singapore by Gobi Partners, a China-based VC firm. Established in 2002, Gobi Partners has about US$250 million in its portfolio of assets and three funds in China. To date, it has invested in 24 companies.

Gobi will provide funding support for Singapore companies looking to penetrate the Chinese market. Similarly, the VC player will identify and assist Chinese startups with the intention to enter the Singapore market.

In a phone interview with ZDNet Asia, Ku Kay Mok, partner at Gobi Singapore, said the firm has identified some candidates and is in the process of evaluating them. He declined to state the number of companies being considered for the fund.

Ku said Gobi hopes to invest in "enough companies" such that there will be synergies and potential for collaboration. The startups, for instance, would fit different parts of the value chain such as production and distribution, he explained.

According to an MDA spokesperson, games, e-learning and IPTV (Internet Protocol television) are possible areas of investment under the new fund. The Authority played a "catalytic role" in the establishment of the fund but will not be involved in the selection process, she told ZDNet Asia in a phone interview.

The MDA-Gobi alliance is one of 18 business deals and MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) signings announced by the Singapore media regulator on the sidelines of the Expo 2010 in Shanghai.

Another bilateral digital media-industry collaboration aims to produce the first co-developed game by the two countries. Singapore-based Mikoishi has partnered the China Information Broadcast Network (CIBN) to develop and launch a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), which will be designed for the global market and distributed in China by the CIBN.

MDA Chairman Tan Chin Nam noted in the statement that the two countries have built up media ties since the 1980s, with bilateral media relations reaching new heights last month with the signing of the China-Singapore Film Coproduction Agreement. This is aimed at facilitating more content creation partnerships between both countries.

"As China's media industry makes tremendous strides and Singapore ramps up the development of its media sector, we believe there are many opportunities for companies from both countries to gain new ground through mutually beneficially partnerships," Tan said.

"Singapore looks forward to partnering with China to address business opportunities in each other's markets and the international arena, embarking on a new 'S 'curve of growth for media business based on win-win collaboration."


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