Sydney’s Taronga Ventures to headquarter Asia operations in Singapore

Author – Olivia PohThe Business Times -12/08/2020

AUSTRALIA-BASED venture capital firm Taronga Ventures on Wednesday said it will anchor its Asia headquarters in Singapore, to expand its “real estate-focused innovation and investment ecosystem” for the region.

This comes on the back of a recent close of its proptech-focused RealTech Ventures Fund in May, which attracted “significant” investment from strategic investors such as commercial real estate services firm CBRE, German real estate manager Patrizia and Australian office landlord Dexus.

The fund is targeting to raise US$100 million from institutional investors and major real estate corporates, it said, adding that the fund has made more than 10 investments in companies across Asia, through Singapore.

For example, it funded US software company Switch Automation, which analyses and manages commercial properties at scale. The company is now expanding into Asia.

Other startups include San Francisco-based OpenSpace, which helps digitalise construction projects, and Ynomia, which uses a bluetooth low-energy sensor to track machinery, materials and manpower on a construction site.

The Singapore office will support the RealTech Ventures Fund and its growth programme – RealTechX – which aims to help emerging technology companies that are “reinventing” the real estate and built environment.

It will be staffed by a team of real estate- and venture-experienced professionals and led by Taronga Ventures co-founder Avi Naidu, the company said.

Jonathan Hannam, Taronga Ventures’ co-founder, said that the Singapore expansion was a “critical component to support new Asian investors and partners, as well as helping to secure and develop Asian investment opportunities”.

“We are already seeing many of our existing investments entering the market and looking to use Singapore as a base to grow into Asia,” he said.

Taronga Ventures also works closely with Austrade Singapore and Singapore government agencies such as the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), Enterprise Singapore (ESG), the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) and the Economic Development Board (EDB) to provide support and market access to emerging companies who are looking to use Singapore as a base, it said.

Sandeep Davé, chief digital and technology officer at CBRE, said: “As the global real estate market continues to evolve, technology is an increasingly critical enabler of solutions for both occupiers and landlords. CBRE’s relationship with Taronga in Asia will provide value-added insights on emerging solutions, particularly for Singapore and the Asia-Pacific region, and help to inform how we serve our clients around the world.”

Benett Theseira, head of Asia Pacific at PGIM Real Estate said: “Across our global platform, we are intent on understanding and capitalizing on the tech-driven opportunities impacting real estate to enhance investment management decisions, implement specialized asset strategies and elevate operational capabilities to drive higher returns on behalf of our investors. We are pleased to bring RealTechX into Asia and to help the property industry keep pace with the innovation and technology changes that are rapidly impacting the built environment. Our partnership with Taronga Ventures and RealTechX will help PGIM Real Estate to remain at the forefront of innovation – with the aim of delivering better outcomes for our investors.”

*Supplementary information provided by Taronga Ventures.