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SingTel helps startups break down national borders

SingTel has launched an initiative to help technology startups in the Asia-Pacific break down national borders and find commercial success in the greater Asia Pacific region.
Written by Leon Spencer, Contributor

Optus' parent company, SingTel, has launched a project helping startups in Australia and the greater Asia Pacific region to break out of their home markets and find commercialisation across international borders.

The new technology startup accelerator initiative, Innov8 Sparks, is part of the telco giant's Singapore $200 million (AU$171M) Innov8 corporate venture capital fund.

Startups taken under the new program's wing will be provided with funding, working space, and introductions to local partners and startup communities, as well as local market information and resources.

The initiative was founded in partnership with the Innov8's regional network, including the startup subsidiary of Thai mobile operator AIS; Philippine startup incubator, Globe Kickstart Ventures; and Indonesia's Telkomsel developer support initiative, 'Teman-Dev'.

The program draws upon the assistance of Innov8 Sparks' member programmes to expand outside their home markets, into Australia, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.

"The formation of Innov8 Sparks will help accelerate the growth of the startup industry and technology innovation in the Asia Pacific region," said Edgar Hardless, CEO, SingTel Innov8.

"With our added ability to foster cross-border collaboration and cross-pollination of portfolio startups across the group, it will now be easier for startups to launch their new offering quickly and successfully," he said.

On its website, Innov8 describes its objective as being to "identify innovative companies with technologies that can potentially enhance the capabilities of SingTel Group operators in delivering solutions across various product segments and verticals."

While it makes sense for SingTel to support tech startups that could help deliver cutting edge developments for its international product suite, a spokesperson for local subsidiary, Optus, said that this was not necessarily the case.

"Whilst it is possible that some of our supported startups may eventually contribute towards SingTel's portfolio of digital service offerings in future, it is not necessarily a requirement for investment," said the spokesperson.

SingTel and its local brand, Optus, are not the only telcos to support local technology start-ups, with Telstra launching its own startup incubator, Muru-D last year. Optus Innov8 was launched in 2012.

In February, Muru-D announced it had selected 10 local startup teams it would mentor over a six-month period, providing funding, a place to work, and advice, in return for equity.

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