“A vibrant startup ecosystem is key to support and to continue to grow Singapore’s status as world class,” said Lew Chuen Hong, the Chief Executive of Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority. He was speaking at the launch of the inaugural Spark Incubator programme, launched jointly by IMDA and Huawei Cloud, the cloud services arm of global tech giant Huawei.

This programme is targeted at early-stage Singapore-based start-ups in the FinTech, Web3 and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) sectors, and aims to support them towards obtaining Series A funding as well as bolstering their expansion in Singapore and the ASEAN region.

“Huawei is committed to empowering digital transformation and innovation, nurturing a future-ready talent pool and driving sustainable growth for the future economic growth together with local partners, as well as government agencies in Singapore,” said Foo Fang Yong, CEO of Huawei International during the event.

Foo Fang Yong, CEO of Huawei International, speaking at the launch of the Spark Incubator programme. Image: Huawei

“The start-up journey is hard,” said Leo Jiang, Chief Digital Officer of Huawei Cloud APAC, during the launch event. “90 per cent of start-ups aren’t going to make it to Series A, which is why we’re launching this. We want to help you…reach that minimum velocity to take off.”

The Spark Incubator programme will support up to 12 start-ups per cohort, and will run twice over the span of a year for a period of five months each.

Benefits of the Spark Incubator programme

As part of the programme, start-ups can expect to receive third party financing of over S$250,000 (US$178,228), increase their valuation by at least 20 per cent, or cross S$250,000 in annual revenue post-programme, according to Leo.

Participants in the programme can leverage on the width and depth of Huawei’s extensive technology stack as well as the decades of industry knowledge and knowhow of Huawei’s staff, Leo said during the event.

For example, this includes access to Huawei Cloud solutions through up to US$60,000 worth of credits. Entrepreneurs under the programme will also get dedicated technical support from Huawei experts, as well as one-on-one mentorship sessions with industry experts from Huawei and partners including financial service provider Stripe and venture capitalists Lion X Ventures, OCBC and Mycelium Ventures, among others.

Leo shared that these sessions hope to help entrepreneurs better commercialise their products. They will be coached on topics like business plan development, guided through their go-to-market strategy, and attend masterclasses on skills such as deal negotiation, developing pitch decks, and delivering effective presentations.

Meanwhile, IMDA will provide support in the form of an office space at their PIXEL facility alongside mentorship from PIXEL’s panel of consultants in areas of design thinking and UI/UX with digital storytelling. Within the PIXEL facility, start-ups will have access to a wide range of spaces to support the development of their products including prototyping labs, augmented and virtual reality labs and production facilities.

Start-ups under the programme will also be a part of IMDA’s Open Innovation Platform, a national platform for digital innovation which supports businesses in diagnosing business challenges and developing problem statements. They will be joining an extensive network of over 12,000 solution providers on the platform today.

Finally, the programme strives to support the start-ups post-programme by providing them opportunities to build lasting business connections with venture capital partners like GSR Ventures, Lion X Ventures, OCBC Bank and Mycelium.

The first cohort of start-ups who will benefit from this programme includes:

Web3:

  • Nervotec: Healthcare analytics as a service to monitor medical grade vital signs
  • NFT Circle: Digitalization of physical asset, real estate, and arts as a service
  • Heros: Enable athletes to monetise their careers through fan engagements and rewards

Fintech:

  • D-Risk: Assists companies to manage credit risk efficiently, accurately, and affordably with AI
  • AI: A fraud prevention AI plug-in helping businesses better understand and prevent fraud

Enterprise SaaS:

  • AI: Solution for higher quality and cost-effective data annotation
  • Better Data: AI synthetic data provider
  • Zapkad: A smart digital business card with comprehensive features worldwide
  • Xrator: Forges cyber resilience for all organisations

Start-ups interested in joining the May 2023 cohort of the programme can apply here. Eligible applicants should be Singapore-located, must ensure that teams already have at least a Minimum Viable Product, possess a strong product-market fit and moat, paid proof-of-concepts, and have previous entrepreneurial or corporate experience.