Over the past months Russian seed-stage fund SpinUp Partners has invested in two Asian startup accelerators – a pioneering move among Russian funds, which usually consider California the prime destination in their global investment strategy.
Anchored by Singapore’s Infocomm Investments Pte Ltd (IIPL), the investment round was also supported by Silicon Valley’s Fenox Venture Capital, as well as individual investors from Germany, the Philippines, Thailand and the UK.
JFDI presents itself as “Asia’s number one startup business accelerator program, the first of its kind in the region and first to join the Global Accelerator Network set up by US accelerator pioneer, Techstars.” Taking teams of entrepreneurs “from idea to investment in 100 days,” JFDI claims that more than 60% of the 27 teams completing its program have succeeded in raising an average $500,000 since 2012.
SpinUp Partners has also backed HaxAsia, a Singapore-based hardware-oriented business accelerator launched earlier this year. HaxAsia promises to help “build global companies” with a six-month acceleration program in Singapore, San Francisco and Beijing.
A bridge to the global market
In addition to providing Singaporean accelerators with funds, SpinUp Partners, Ruvento, DI Group, and the other HaxAsia partners recruit startups from Russia and neighboring countries to join them and develop in Singapore.
“On the global market Russian startups aren’t helped by their ‘Russia’ label. This is why Singapore can help Russian startups go global,” explained SpinUp Partners Chairman Sergey Gorokhov in an exchange with East-West Digital News. “Having asserted itself as the central innovation hub in South-East Asia, Singapore is on its way to becoming a new Silicon Valley,” believes SpinUp Partners director Andrey Dulub.
A startup with founders from Russia, Smartmio is among HaxAsia’s first two resident companies. It is developing “the first wearable electrical muscle stimulation device.” Another startup with Russian founders in HaxAsia’s portfolio is the company creating the world’s first 3D pen, CreoPop.
Russian pioneers in South-East Asia
Among the few other Russia affiliated early stage funds operating in South-East Asia are Ruvento – another investor in HaxAsia – and Dmitry Levit’s Digital Media Partners.
South-East Asia is also a target for two prominent figures of the Russian high tech industry – Yuri Milner, whose global late-stage fund DST invested in several companies in China and India, and Sergey Beloussov, who founded his first companies in Singapore in the late 1990s.
SpinUp Partners intends to invest further in other Asian countries, as well as in Israel, the USA and Russia, Dulub told EWDN. So far, its sole investment in Russia went to air screen maker Displair.
The fund is affiliated with the Spinup Venture Group, launched in 2011 by alumni from Phystech, a top Russian university, and other Russian businessmen. Spinup Venture Groups’ parent company, SpinUp Singa Pte. Ltd., is incorporated in Singapore.
SpinUp Venture is currently raising funds from new LPs in order to launch a second venture fund later this year, Dulub said.
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