Israeli crowdfunding firm OurCrowd is making its move to Asia – via Singapore. The company last week announced that it had formed a partnership with Singapore’s United Overseas Bank Limited (UOB), giving OurCrowd access to start-ups and investment opportunities throughout Asia.
The partnership will see UOB making a $10 million investment in OurCrowd. Accredited investors (who have a minimum net worth that varies by jurisdiction) among UOB’s clients will now have an opportunity to broaden their investments into OurCrowd’s portfolio companies, UOB said. In addition, Asian companies with innovative technology will now get access to another source of funding through OurCrowd’s equity crowdfunding platform.
Singapore hasn’t been much on Israel’s radar until now, but that has been changing. Last year, Israeli early-stage venture fund and incubator Trendlines went public on the the Catalist of the Singapore Exchange Securities Trading Limited (SGX-ST). According to Trendlines, the company received “strong interest from investors,” raising $25 million in its initial public offering, “and indications of interests from investors significantly exceeded the number of shares offered.”
Companies from Singapore have shopped around for Israeli tech as well. Singtel, one of the biggest mobile firms in Asia, several years ago partnered with Israeli tech firm Amdocs to open a development center in Israel, and acquired an Israeli mobile advertising firm called Amobee. “Israel is renowned for its innovation, and is fueled by a strong education system,” said Allen Lew, chief executive officer of SingTel’s Digital Life group. “You also have a core that drives an insatiable need to innovate and develop. We have been extremely satisfied with the wealth of talent in Israel.”
What Israel has been as a supplier of technology to the US and Europe – with many advanced technologies developed in Israel and then exported to Western countries – Singapore has been to Asia, especially southeast Asia, according to Dr. Alex Lin of Singapore’s Infocomm Investments. On a recent visit to Israel, Lin discussed the similarities between Israel and Singapore – and why his country was a better gateway to Asia than China.
“Singapore straddles both worlds, acting almost as a buffer zone between East and West,” said Lin. “As a democracy, we understand personal responsibility, and we have numerous educational programs in place to encourage independent thinking and the start-up spirit among young entrepreneurs in our country.”
Entrepreneurship is something that UOB understands very well, said Janet Young, the bank’s Head of Group Channels and Digitalization. “Small and medium enterprises are the foundation of Asian economies, providing high levels of employment. However, it can be challenging for small businesses to obtain financing, particularly equity financing, in the early stages of growth. Because of this, UOB has partnered with OurCrowd, to connect smart ideas with smart money.”
According to OurCrowd Founder and CEO Jon Medved, OurCrowd has in just the past two years invested over $200 million from accredited investors in 91 Israeli tech firms, “making us one of the largest investors in the Israeli tech ecosystem and one of the largest equity crowdfunding platforms globally. We are driving the democratization of venture capital, opening the door to tens of thousands of accredited investors who want to invest in the next generation of tech leaders.”
Now, Asian firms and investors will be added to the mix, said Medved. “The UOB OurCrowd partnership represents a huge step forward for OurCrowd and the Asian tech ecosystem. Together, we will empower scores of new entrepreneurs and match them with global investors and mentor networks. The beauty of crowdfunding OurCrowd style is that the investor in Asia can now access quality deal flow in Israel, Silicon Valley, and beyond, while a Singapore entrepreneur can easily gain top notch global backing.”