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ComfortDelGro Ventures invests in SWAT, Haulio, Foretellix

Photo 1 The first on-demand bus service overseas has already been launched in North West Sydney through CDC NSW.jpg
ComfortDelGro has also invested in Singapore-based SWAT, an on-demand bus technology startup that routes vehicles optimally to offer the highest utilisation rates and service levels, it said.

TRANSPORT giant ComfortDelGro is eyeing opportunities beyond its core passenger transport business, and has made strategic investments into three startups involved in mobility tech and ancillary services.

The early-stage investments are the first to be made out of ComfortDelGro Ventures, the US$100 million corporate venture capital fund which was set up in November last year. The size of each investment was not disclosed.

Among the investees is Haulio, a logistics tech startup incubated by PSA International’s corporate venture capital arm, PSA unboXed.

Haulio closed a pre-series A funding round at the end of May, with ComfortDelGro as a new investor. A year ago, Haulio raised S$1 million in seed funding. This time, the size of the funds raised was not disclosed.

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Haulio uses technology to match container trucking job demand with supply, helping trucking companies save time and resources while improving visibility and reliability for end customers, ComfortDelGro said on Tuesday.

The platform has over 75 per cent of Singapore's hauliers on-board with an outreach of over 2,000 trucks to date, and seeks to expand the scope of services offered to their existing users, ComfortDelGro said.

"Given the similarities in vehicle fleet operations between container and passenger transportation, the synergies that Haulio brings fit into ComfortDelGro's intention to expand beyond passenger transport," the company said.

ComfortDelGro has also made a series A investment in Singapore-based SWAT, an on-demand bus technology startup that routes vehicles optimally to offer the highest utilisation rates and service levels, it said.

SWAT was one of the technology providers for the Land Transport Authority's on-demand public bus trials from December 2018 to June 2019 and is working with ComfortDelGro to extend this shared mobility tech to other bus and taxi service fleets in Singapore and overseas.

The first on-demand bus service overseas has already been launched in North West Sydney in Australia through ComfortDelGro Australia, and provides first- and last-mile connection to the new Sydney Metro. More routes are expected to follow.

ComfortDelGro's third investment is in Foretellix, an Israel-based autonomous vehicle safety testing startup. It invested in Foretellix's US$14 million Series A round that closed in January.

Founded by veterans from the semiconductor-testing industry, Foretellix is developing solutions to bridge the gap between current vehicle-testing standards and the eventual stringent measurable safety and compliance requirements that autonomous vehicles will need to fulfil for full commercialisation.

This investment is being held by ComfortDelGro's testing services unit VICOM, which is working closely with Foretellix to explore the feasibility of introducing such a service in Singapore and other Asian markets.

ComfortDelGro group chief executive Yang Ban Seng said: "We are pursuing strategic investments in new and emerging technology startups which bridge the gap between what is, and what could be. We are excited about the possibilities these new tie-ups may bring to the table in the area of smart urban mobility and transportation. We are building a new wing beyond the core passenger transport business."

The group is also assessing other tech startup investments, it said. These include opportunities in the core land transport business such as vehicle fleet electrification, automotive engineering technologies, autonomous vehicle fleet management systems, as well as adjacent disciplines such as smart logistics, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and robotics.

In addition to startup investments, ComfortDelGro will be involved in incubating new mobility business concepts and technologies with promising entrepreneurs, it said.

ComfortDelGro shares closed at S$2.48 on Tuesday, up two Singapore cents or 0.81 per cent.