Singapore’s National Research Foundation is giving $40 million to companies to invest in local tech startups, Smart Nation Minister Vivian Balakrishnan announced today.

The government wants local companies to “engage in corporate venturing”, sourcing for innovative technologies and business models as part of their overall strategy, NRF said in a statement.

The agency is awarding four companies under the scheme: real estate developer CapitaLand, investor DeClout, agribusiness group Wilmar International, and supply chain group YCH.

The government will provide S$10 million to each company to set up venture capital funds, with an equal amount contributed by the company.

CapitaLand is looking for startups in design, construction and smart living, while DeCloud is interested in big data, logistics, fintech and cyber security. Wilmar will invest in disruptors in agriculture, food and health. Meanwhile. YCH is looking for startups in logistics, 3D printing, big data, robotics and fintech.

The scheme will allow companies to get access to new technologies through the startups they invest in. In turn, startups will get access to their corporate partners’ networks and expertise to commercialise and scale up.

“We want the large local enterprises to go scan the horizon, identify small startups which have potential transformative ideas. Test it out, and if it works, you gain,” Minister Balakrishnan said.

The scheme is part of the NRF’s Early Stage Venture Fund, launched in 2008 to invest in venture capital firms. Startups involved in previous rounds include restaurant reviews portal HungryGoWhere and logistics company Ninjavan. Unlike in previous rounds, the government is now giving funds to corporates rather than going through fund managers.

Image from Minister Vivian Balakrishnan’s Facebook page