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UOB, OurCrowd join forces to crowdfund Asian technology startups

UNITED Overseas Bank (UOB) on Thursday announced a strategic partnership with global equity crowdfunding platform OurCrowd.

The deal - the first in Asia for the Israel-based company - aims to address the S$180 billion SME (small and medium enterprise) funding gap in South-east Asia, and will enable OurCrowd to tap into UOB's pool of accredited investors and help it broaden its portfolio.

In return, SMEs can tap into OurCrowd's global investor base to jumpstart their international expansion and business development.

The collaboration will see UOB make a US$10 million investment in OurCrowd.

Said Janet Young, head of group channels and digitalisation at UOB: "As Singapore's largest SME bank with an extensive regional network, UOB has deep experience from its longstanding suppose of entrepreneurs, startups and SMEs. This collaboration with OurCrowd is a natural extension of our interest in nurturing the growth of small businesses."

Unlike other familiar crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo, OurCrowd is built on a unique system of equity crowdfunding, meaning companies in the region can invest in OurCrowd's portfolio of startups in exchange for shares and equity in them.

The Israeli company was founded in February 2013 and is led by famed angel investor and venture capitalist Jonathan Medved. OurCrowd selects promising technology startups and then uses its own capital to invest in them and open them up to its investor portfolio.

It also provides post-investment support to its portfolio companies by having industry experts guide it and take board seats; to date, it has invested US$200 million into 93 startups and seen four exits.

Said Mr Medved: "The UOB-OurCrowd collaboration represents a huge step forward for OurCrowd and the Asian tech ecosystem. Together, we will empower scores of new entrepreneurs and match them with global investors and mentor networks. 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."

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