C31 Ventures to fund tech start-ups

Real estate company CapitaLand is setting up a venture fund, C31 Ventures, to tap global tech start-ups.

Starting with the group’s S$15-million (US$11 million) investment in the Early Stage Venture Fund III (ESVFIII) by Singapore’s National Research Foundation (NRF) in May for local tech start-ups, CapitaLand is prepared to eventually invest up to S$100 million as it seeks investment opportunities beyond Singapore.

President and group CEO Lim Ming Yan announced C31 Ventures at the company’s Gateway to Asia networking event in San Francisco, attended by more than 50 representatives from start-ups and venture capital firms in the Bay Area, the nexus of high-tech corporations, start-up companies and venture capitalists.

“C31 Ventures will allow CapitaLand to invest in promising tech start-ups that are relevant and add value to our business,” he said. “CapitaLand’s portfolio of real estate assets offers a living lab to start-ups where they can validate their ideas and prototypes.

“Given our strong foothold in Asia, CapitaLand will also serve as a conduit for start-ups to enter the regional market, especially China. We are confident C31 Ventures will greatly sharpen our innovation focus on real estate and customer engagement, bolstering our efforts to develop integrated and interconnected smart buildings as well as create seamless online and offline customer experiences.

“CapitaLand is future-proofing its business by leveraging technology to innovate and build real estate of tomorrow.”

Review committee

C31 Ventures targets Series A to C start-up companies that fit into CapitaLand’s focus areas of innovation in energy, operations and maintenance; building and construction; design and building materials; real estate funding; and customer engagement.

Shortlisted start-ups will be reviewed by an investment committee comprising CapitaLand’s senior management and external advisors, including venture capitalists Foo Jixun, managing partner of GGV Capital, and David Su, managing partner of Matrix Partners China.

Start-ups will be assessed on a combination of criteria, ranging from speed to market, product and financial viability, and valuation and operating metrics.

Launching C31 Ventures followed a tech-scout trip by CapitaLand in New York and San Francisco, with the group meeting start-ups including those in the Internet of Things, data analytics, and virtual and augmented reality sectors.

CapitaLand’s senior management also met with Microsoft executives at the tech giant’s Seattle headquarters. Earlier this month, CapitaLand joined the Microsoft Accelerator program as an official

global network partner to provide mentorship to start-ups as well as gain access to new ideas and technology.

Based in Singapore, CapitaLand has a diversified global real-estate portfolio including integrated developments and shopping malls. Its two core markets are Singapore and China, while Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam have been identified as new growth markets.

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