Start-ups have 'key role in smart nation drive'

Start-ups have 'key role in smart nation drive'

SINGAPORE - The importance of start-ups in Singapore's drive to become a smart nation was highlighted at an event showcasing 12 fledgling businesses.

Minister of Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim said start-ups can develop new ideas and apps that can be used in the country's smart nation initiative.

The Government has provided funding and a platform for start-ups to emerge, he added.

He also called on the private sector to get involved "to ride on the platform to develop new services and apps".

Dr Yaacob was speaking to the media yesterday after hearing investment pitches from some of the 12 start-ups that completed a 100-day boot camp run by tech accelerator Joyful Frog Digital Incubator (JFDI).

About 100 investors attended the event at the Tab entertainment venue next to Orchard Hotel yesterday.

Later, when asked by the master of ceremonies Hian Goh what he thought of the pitching event, he said it was an "exciting and wonderful event".

"The Government wants to see more of such events, in line with Singapore's smart nation initiative," he added. The events would also go a long way in making Singapore not only a smart nation but also a hub for entrepreneurship, he added.

Of the pitches he heard, Dr Yaacob said he could identify with Geckolife, which is a safe social app for families, children and groups because he was "a family man". "The idea of knowing who your kids are interacting with is useful," he said.

He added that he was impressed with a few entrepreneurs who were "on the wrong side of 50".

"It's not about being young or old. Forget your age, do something exciting," he said.

This is the first time a Cabinet minister has attended an investment pitching event.

JFDI is the first accelerator to receive government funding from Infocomm Investment, a unit of the Infocomm Development Authority.

The unit's chief executive, Mr Alex Lin, told The Straits Times that the 12 start-ups were "investment ready". "They were clear about their business models, they had customers, some even had revenue. So, they are ready for funding," he said.

Initially, he said he feared that some of the companies would not make the cut because they were not razor sharp in their business model.

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