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Two new tech headquarters open in Singapore

Zendesk expands Singapore office, Trendlines opens first incubator outside Israel

(From left) Mr Tay and Mr Svane at the opening of Zendesk's new wing at Haw Par Technocentre.


TWO new tech headquarters were inaugurated here on Wednesday, in a move said to significantly bolster Singapore's name as a launchpad for global innovation.

One was Zendesk's expanded wing in Haw Par Technocentre and the other was Trendlines' incubator space at JTC LaunchPad @ one-north.

Zendesk, a US$2.73 billion New York-listed customer service software firm, has upsized its Singapore office to accommodate over 120 employees. Zendesk currently has close to 100 employees here.

The Business Times understands that the Zendesk Singapore office - which houses its Asia-Pacific (Apac) commercial headquarters and Chat Development Centre - has doubled in size to 1,390 sq m.

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With support from the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), Zendesk will grow its Chat research and development team over the next few years by tapping into engineering and developer talents in local universities and research institutes.

Mikkel Svane, founder and chief of Zendesk, said Singapore is home to a highly-skilled workforce that understands tech and embraces innovation. He added that EDB's support of Zendesk marks a collective commitment to nurture skills in this country.

Kiren Kumar, assistant managing director at EDB, said: "We hope this partnership will help inspire young Singaporeans about the transformational and scalable possibilities in the digital sector, and support our drive to build an innovation-led economy."

Zendesk in 2014 acquired Singapore chat start-up Zopim for some US$30 million, leading to the set-up of its Apac commercial headquarters and Chat Development Centre here.

Royston Tay, co-founder of Zopim and general manager of Zendesk Message, told BT: "It's important to highlight that Singapore Budget 2017 is encouraging to digital business, innovation and small business growth. This is a positive step for Singapore."

He added that Zendesk has a history of supporting and scaling innovative businesses as they mature. "We look forward to continuing this as we grow our business locally."

Meanwhile, The Trendlines Group, an Israel-based medtech and agritech incubator listed on the Singapore Exchange, has opened Trendlines Medical Singapore - its new incubator here and the first outside of Israel.

Located at Block 77, LaunchPad, the facility occupies 480 sq m and can accommodate 11 portfolio companies in addition to Trendlines staff.

Trendlines Medical Singapore will invest in Singaporean start-ups that have developed medical devices and technologies that can be commercialised regionally and globally. These start-ups will be housed in the new incubator, where they will receive "intense, hands-on" guidance throughout their tech development process.

Trendlines co-chief executive officer Todd Dollinger said at the launch that the company will announce "a series of investments" into such start-ups in the coming months.

Ted Tan, deputy CEO of Spring Singapore and guest-of-honour at the launch, said Apac - as the largest medtech market globally after the US - presents great opportunities for Singapore, a country backed by strong R&D capabilities and whose past decade of investments in medtech are now ripe for translation.

He added: "We are honoured to have Trendlines set up its first Asia-based incubator in Singapore."

The Israeli group, which in November 2015 debuted on the Catalist board, in January received from Spring an incubator grant of up to S$2.2 million. Trendlines Medical Singapore is also partnered by German medical device manufacturer B Braun and Singapore investment bank PrimePartners.

On Wednesday, Trendlines' shares lost nearly 8 per cent, or 1.5 Singapore cents, to close at S$0.173.

Commenting on both launches, Isaac Ho, chief of private investment group Venturecraft, said: "Singapore has always been a destination for multinational corporations looking to create innovations for South-east Asia and beyond. It remains to be seen if there are real results in terms of innovation output and helping Singapore companies to scale."

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