by Cristina Lago

Facebook unveils its first data innovation startup programme in Asia

Oct 03, 2018
StartupsTechnology Industry

Under the name Startup Station Singapore, the social media giant will provide mentorship and training to startups based in Singapore and Southeast Asia

This week Facebook announced the launch of Startup Station Singapore, its first data innovation startup programme in Asia, and second globally.

In collaboration with the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) of Singapore, the six-month programme aims to support innovative data-driven startups that are developing the next generation of business solutions today.

IMDA will facilitate a regulatory sandbox where the startups will have the chance to develop new approaches and innovative ideas through the use of data in a live environment.

“We are happy to work with industry partners such as Facebook who will help enrich our start-up ecosystem by bringing its expertise in key Digital Economy areas such as Artificial Intelligence, product innovation and data protection with a global approach”, said Tan Kiat How, Chief Executive at IMDA.

“Coupled with our strong push to develop data collaboratives and data sharing frameworks, this ensures that Singapore continues to be an attractive location for start-ups to site their data-driven projects, test innovative ideas, develop solutions and springboard into new markets”, he continued.

The training of the programme will be powered by Rainmaking, a collective of serial entrepreneurs, ex-corporate executives, expert trainers and investors with offices in Asia, Europe, the US and Mexico.

Facebook will provide training modules in short and intense sprints to help startups advance and mature their businesses. Mentorship will come from international Facebook experts and industry leaders with expertise in artificial intelligence (AI), product innovation, growth and data protection.

Startups will be given the opportunity to be part of FbStart, a Facebook global programme designed to help startups build and grow with access to free tools and services.

They will also have a co-working space equipped with prototyping lab, studio production and incubation facilities built around design, data, engineering, information and communications technology (ICT) and media.

Startup Station Singapore will also offer the opportunity to network with regional venture capitalists (VCs) and investors via “demo day” at the end of the programme.

Those startups that graduate from the programme will be invited to join Facebook’s startup alumni scheme that will connect them to a global network of startups.

To be eligible to participate, startups must be based in Singapore or within Southeast Asia. The programme is open to any growth data-driven startup with an established business model and datasets that is seeking to scale their venture.

Those who wish to apply can do it here until 7 December 2018. The announcement of selected startups will take place on January 2019 and the programme is scheduled to start on February.

Facebook’s expansion in Southeast Asia

The Startup Station Singapore programme announcement has become part of a series of news regarding the expansion of Facebook operation across the Asia Pacific (APAC) region.

On Monday Facebook said that it will move its APAC headquarters to a new and bigger space in Singapore.

The social media company’s new premises in the island consist of 260,000 square feet across four floors in its new Marina One Tower –  a 190,000 square feet addition from its former offices in South Beach Tower.

Dan Neary, Facebook’s Vice President of APAC, said that the Singapore and regional teams – consisting of about 1,000 people – will be housed in the space, which can hold up to 3,000 workstations.

The Marina One premises are also home to Facebook’s first partner centre in APAC. The social media company has partner centres at seven of Facebook offices all over the world. In this centres, business partners and visitors can explore Facebook’s one-of-a-kind culture.

At the beginning of September, the Facebook also announced that t will be spending $1bn (S$ 1.4bn) to build a data centre in Singapore, its first in Asia.

The new facility, located at Tanjong Kling (formerly known as Data Centre Park) in the west of the city-state, will span 170,000 square metres and according to Facebook, it will “support hundreds of jobs”.

The data centre is expected to open in 2022.