Robot start-up attracts EDBI as an investor

Robot start-up attracts EDBI as an investor

Robot start-up attracts EDBI as an investor

Fancy having a robot serve you coffee at Starbucks?

It may not happen here soon, but robots from American start-up Savioke are already delivering coffee to guests in a Los Angeles hotel.

Last week, Savioke raised US$15 million (S$21.6 million) from investors, including EDBI, the venture arm of the Economic Development Board.

The other investors were corporate venture fund Intel Capital and China's Northern Light Venture Capital.

The funds will be used to expand sales, marketing and product developments for its award-winning Relay robot.

Relay is the world's first autonomous delivery robot and can be used in the service industry such as hotels, hospitals, restaurants, offices, malls and airports.

An EDBI statement last week said the three-year-old start-up offers robots for lease, a first in the hotel industry.

This business model would help drive faster adoption of robots among hoteliers around the world, added the statement, which noted a potential global market of 200,000 hotels.

Relay is used by hotels in Silicon Valley, including Aloft Cupertino and the Crowne Plaza.

The Relay fleet made about 11,000 guest deliveries last year.

Savioke chief executive Steve Cousins said robots had been too complex, too expensive and not safe enough to co-exist in human environments.

He added: "Through a combination of advances in robotics software and the drop in costs for robotic hardware and components, those objections have disappeared. The time has finally come when robots are going to be at our beck and call."

EDBI chief executive Chu Swee Yeok said Singapore's progressive technology environment is well positioned to accelerate Savioke's growth plans in Asia.

EDBI will also assist Savioke to make business connections in the region, she added.

SPH Media Fund invests inMalaysia-based start-up

A Malaysia-based logistics start-up has raised US$1.5 million (S$2.1 million) in an investment round led by SPH Media Fund.

The other investor in TheLorry was Silicon Valley-based private equity firm Elixir Capital.

TheLorry will use the funds for regional expansion, to strengthen its presence in Malaysia and to introduce new services.

Co-founder Goh Chee Hau said having investors familiar with Singapore would be important for its move into the market here.

TheLorry offers on-demand cargo transport throughout West Malaysia. It connects thousands of lorry and van owners with customers to move everything from household appliances to commercial cargo.

Founded in 2014, the start-up recently expanded into delivering bulky items for e-commerce vendors and retailers.

An upcoming service will allow individuals and commercial customers to save cost through consolidation and optimising space.

Mr Goh said: "Customers will be able to pay for just the item they wish to send, instead of paying for the whole vehicle."

Mr Chua Boon Ping, chief executive of SPH Media Fund, said there is room for a disruptive logistics service in South-east Asia: "Having done well in Malaysia also gives them an advantage to expand to Singapore due to the high volume of cross-border logistics between the two countries."

New lending site in Indonesia to help SMEs

Singapore-based financial technology start-up Funding Societies has launched a peer-to-peer lending site in Indonesia called Modalku that can serve as a reliable alternative to conventional investments for lenders.

It will also answer the needs of small and medium-sized enterprises that need alternative financing to support growth.

Lenders on Modalku will get a return of more than 12 per cent annually, usually more than conventional investments in stocks, bonds and mutual funds can yield, said a statement from Funding Societies.

ST Telemedia leads investment in US start-up

Local investment corporation ST Telemedia has led a US$45 million (S$64.8 million) investment in American start-up Greenwave.

ST Telemedia said in a statement last week that it provided most of the funds. It did not name the other investors.

The funds will be used for global expansion.

California-based Greenwave operates in the Internet of Things sector, working with telcos, utilities and other companies to develop solutions for managed technology services, including home automation and energy management.

Greenwave's solutions have been installed on millions of devices.

Send news on start-up development to chngkeg@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on January 21, 2016.
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