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Bosch sets up regional innovation hub in S'pore

29 Jul 2021 | BY CHOO YUN TING, THE STRAITS TIMES

German giant partners EDB's New Ventures, seeks to build start-up collaboration network

German giant Bosch has launched its South-east Asia innovation hub in Singapore, as it seeks to develop a regional collaboration network for start-ups.

Its in-house innovation and start-up incubation platform, Grow, was set up in partnership with the Singapore Economic Development Board's (EDB) corporate venture building arm, EDB New Ventures.

The innovation hub was officially unveiled yesterday, and it seeks to launch at least five new ventures in Singapore by 2023.

Bosch also announced that its first spin-off unit under Grow, aquaculture start-up AquaEasy, had secured multi-million dollar funding from the German firm and EDB New Ventures. The home appliance and tech firm declined to disclose the specific investment amount.

AquaEasy has tapped Bosch's capabilities in sensor development to develop its aqua-farming solution, which combines sensors, software and analytics to improve farming yield and predictability.

Its solution, which is able to track water quality and whether shrimps are fed enough, has been deployed at shrimp farms, including local aquaculture firm Qian Hu, and farms in Indonesia and Vietnam.

AquaEasy co-founder Ivan Tay said the company has run three rounds of tests with Qian Hu, and it seeks to expand into other markets such as Thailand and India in the next few years.

Mr Choo Heng Tong, executive vice-president of new ventures and innovation at EDB, said: "Our joint investment into AquaEasy reflects the strong market potential in Asia where the majority of global shrimp production takes place.

"As a corporate venture, AquaEasy leverages Bosch's deep sensor and AI (artificial intelligence) expertise for its competitive edge, and is well-positioned to tap this market from Singapore."

About 30 intrapreneurs are working on start-up projects within Grow, which seeks to establish a conducive ecosystem for them to develop their business ideas, Bosch said.

The launch of Grow at Bosch's facility in Bishan yesterday was attended by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, National Research Foundation permanent secretary Chan Lai Fung and EDB's Mr Choo.

The innovation hub's partners include institutes of higher learning such as the National University of Singapore and Singapore Management University, as well as multi-national corporations like British-headquartered Standard Chartered Bank and testing and certification company Bureau Veritas.

Mr Karsten Roenner, global head of Grow, said Singapore's combination of strong government support in innovation and an organic network of founders, investors and mentors makes the Republic an ideal test bed for its innovation platform.

"Singapore is not only able to enhance domestic start-ups through fast pace and ever-evolving ecosystem, but also to build new ventures that see the entire Asian market as a focus area," he said.

Yesterday, Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong announced that four international companies have confirmed plans to set up base in Punggol Digital District, which will progressively open from 2024.

The firms will create about 2,000 tech jobs, and benefit from Singapore's status as an innovation and business hub, he said.

ARTICLE BY THE STRAITS TIMES

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