June 5, 2018 / 2:47 AM / 6 months ago

Southeast Asia's Grab launches innovation arm to develop tech start-ups

SINGAPORE, June 5 (Reuters) - Southeast Asia's Grab on Tuesday launched Grab Ventures, its innovation arm to develop technology start-ups in sectors such as transport, food services, logistics and financial services, further expanding beyond ride-hailing.

Grab, which made its start as a taxi-booking app six years ago, has ventured into areas including payments and food delivery. Earlier this year, it bought Uber Technologies' regional operations.

"We have articulated our vision to be the everyday app of Southeast Asia, so we are interested in any tech that enables that vision in terms of becoming a complete O2O (online-to- offline) mobile platform," Chris Yeo, head of Grab Ventures, told Reuters.

He said it could look to develop businesses in-house or work with existing start-ups.

Grab Ventures' current portfolio includes self-driving technology firm Drive.ai and Indonesian payments service Kudo. It will seek to partner 8-10 growth-stage start-ups over the next 24 months and may invest in a few.

Grab Ventures will work with government agencies across the region to support such companies by helping them develop and scale technologies. It may also look for private-sector partners, Yeo said.

Its accelerator program, which will provide expertise, technical resources and networks to the start-ups, includes partners from government agencies such as the Info-communications Media Development Authority of Singapore and Enterprise Singapore. (Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan; Editing by Vyas Mohan)

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