It’s not often a US$10 million investment gets buried by another headline within the same story.
But that is what happens when a Singaporean financial institution becomes the first major Asian bank to sign a partnership with a global equity crowdfunding platform — as United Overseas Bank Limited (UOB) did today by announcing a collaboration agreement with Israel’s OurCrowd.
The UOB-OurCrowd partnership represents a significant moment in crowdfunding equity in Singapore because it is first time the sector has stepped out of the startup world and embraced by a large-scale financial institution.
The US$10 million will be invested into OurCrowd’s platform as well as used for co-investments into the Israeli company’s portfolio.
A spokesperson for UOB told e27 the company it will be actively researching and referring accredited investors and startups/SMEs to the platform. The two sides have already identified potential technology companies for crowdfunding equity investment.
UOB says it will assist in creating opportunities for Asian startups to become part of said portfolio.
“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,” said Janet Young, Head of Group Channels and Digitalisation at UOB in an official statement.
Crowdfunding equity is when a company receives many, small, investments from a multitude of investors in exchange for equity stake in the business.
In Singapore, startups like Fundel and FundedHere have been operating in the space. Singapore-based, but Australia-listed, company CoAssets is following a similar model in the real estate sector.
In February 2015, in response to a growth of equity crowdfunding globally, the Monetary Authority of Singapore issued a consultation paper on the subject.
The OurCrowd platform has facilitated US$200 million worth of funding in 91 companies in 110 companies.
However, it is not just a matter of signing up on the platform and hoping for the best. OurCrowd has vetted 4,000 companies according to the company website.
“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,” said OurCrowd Founder and CEO Jonathan Medved.
Sassoon Investment Corporation — the private investment arm behind Singapore’s Sassoon family (famous for café ‘The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf brand) — is also investing in OurCrowd’s Asian expansion.