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Singapore trade and industry minister Koh Poh Koon (L) gets a closer look at Singrow's indoor-grown, tropics-resilient strawberries. Photo credit: Singrow

Singapore government commits $40m to growing ag and aquaculture startups

June 29, 2020

Enterprise Singapore, the city-state’s startup agency, is earmarking S$55 million ($39.5 million) to help accelerate “promising” agriculture and aquaculture companies.

Koh Poh Koon, the country’s senior minister for trade and industry, announced the fund while visiting local indoor farming startup Singrow last week.

[Disclosure: Singrow is an investee of AgFunder, which is AFN‘s parent company.]

“We see agritech as a promising industry sector to develop for the longer [term], not just because of Covid-19. Using agritech can help to make our food supplies more resilient by building a bigger margin of local food capacity,” Koh said during his visit.

“The overall market size for agritech will continue to grow as the world now looks at trying to fulfill its needs for food, and using technology to multiply production capacity, doing more with less, is one of the areas where Singapore can play to its strengths” in areas such as biotech, chemical engineering, and advanced manufacturing, he added. 

AFN understands that the $39.5 million will be distributed by Enterprise Singapore in the form of grants to companies that successfully apply via the government’s Business Grants Portal.

The grant “builds on Enterprise Singapore’s ongoing efforts to develop a vibrant agrifoodtech ecosystem […] to meet evolving needs,” the agency said in a statement.

Enterprise Singapore’s deputy CEO Ted Tan said there is an urgency for Singapore’s agriculture and aquaculture businesses to adopt agrifood-related technologies “to address the growing demand locally, as well as globally.”

“The current Covid-19 situation has underscored the importance of this, amidst the disruptions observed across the global food supply chain,” he added. “The additional funding will provide a boost to these companies as they build their capabilities and scale up. This will not only contribute towards national food resilience, but further strengthen their global competitiveness.”

Singrow is a graduate of the GROW Accelerator’s first cohort, and recently secured funding from AgFunder. Find out why here.

The Singapore government has set a ’30 by 30′ goal of producing 30% of the country’s nutritional needs domestically by 2030. Currently, it is dependent on imports to fulfill over 90% of these requirements.

Enterprise Singapore’s investment arm, SEEDS Capital, already runs a co-investment scheme alongside several private-sector VC and accelerator partners — including AgFunder-backed GROW — to drive funding into agrifoodtech startups, including those that can help the city-state achieve its local food production objectives.

Earlier this month, SEEDS Capital and EDBI — the investment arm of Singapore’s Economic Development Board — unveiled a S$285 million ($206 million) special situation fund to support startups that “contribute to national priorities,” including food security, amid the economic turmoil caused by Covid-19.

Separately, the Singapore Food Agency recently established the 30×30 Express program which will provide grants out of a S$30 million ($21 million) pot to boost local producers of eggs, fish, and leafy greens.

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