3 Japan firms to invest in farm, food tech startups in S.E. Asia

31, Aug. 2019

(From L to R) Focustech Ventures Pte. Ltd. venture partner Raymond Choong, Kobashi Industries Co. CEO Shojiro Kobashi, Euglena Co. executive officer and head of R&D Kengo Suzuki, Leave a Nest Group CEO Yukihiro Maru and Focustech Ventures CEO Kelvin Ong pose at a launch event for their partnership in investment in Southeast Asian startups in the agriculture and food sectors in Singapore on Aug. 29, 2019. (NNA/Kyodo)
(From L to R) Focustech Ventures Pte. Ltd. venture partner Raymond Choong, Kobashi Industries Co. CEO Shojiro Kobashi, Euglena Co. executive officer and head of R&D Kengo Suzuki, Leave a Nest Group CEO Yukihiro Maru and Focustech Ventures CEO Kelvin Ong pose at a launch event for their partnership in investment in Southeast Asian startups in the agriculture and food sectors in Singapore on Aug. 29, 2019. (NNA/Kyodo)

SINGAPORE, NNA - Three Japanese companies have teamed up to invest in agriculture and food technology startups in Southeast Asia, providing their expertise to help local ventures take off.

Biotechnology firm Euglena Co., farm machinery maker Kobashi Industries Co. and consulting service firm for startups Leave a Nest Co. said Thursday they established Germi8 Pte. Ltd. in Singapore on Aug. 8 with a plan to inject 100 million yen ($940,000) into about 20 firms over the next three years.

The three companies did not disclose the ratio of their investment, only saying they hold an equal proportion of the stake in the joint venture.

Focustech Ventures Pte. Ltd., a local venture creation firm, has also participated in its establishment, with CEO Kelvin Ong assuming the post of director of the new unit, according to a joint statement.

Germi8, which aims to help grow local ventures with cutting-edge information technology at their initial fundraising stage, is already in talks with eight startups for partnership, they said at a launch event in Singapore.

The move comes as the Singapore government has, since 2018, geared up to facilitate innovation by startups in the agriculture and food sectors, according to the statement.

Since 2014, Leave a Nest has boosted a campaign to build an ecosystem leveraging startups in six Southeast Asian nations through its subsidiary Leave a Nest Singapore Pte. Ltd.

Since early 2018, the Tokyo-based consulting firm has partnered with Focustech and Kobashi Industries, which provides technical assistance and seeks opportunities to team up with local firms on what is its first overseas investment, they said.

Euglena, a microalgae business pioneer in Japan that aims to start mass production of biofuel from euglena microalgae in 2025, helps select prospective startups in the region while looking for possible tie-ups with them, they said. (NNA/Kyodo)