Grab has launched a new innovation arm, Grab Ventures, aimed at uncovering disruptive companies and regional talent in Southeast Asia, as well as Velocity, an accelerator programme for growth-stage start-ups.
Starting as a ride-hailing app, the company has evolved into an innovative online-to-offline (O2O) mobile platform, launching several complimentary services across the region, most recently, GrabFood and GrabCycle.
The launch of Grab Ventures comes when the company celebrates its 6th anniversary.
"As Grab turns six, we are experiencing a period of solid growth," said Anthony Tan, Group CEO and co-founder, Grab. "Grab is ramping up innovation in-house to scale faster as the leading O2O mobile platform in Southeast Asia.
"We are always open to partnerships where it makes sense for our business and will look to partner or invest in the right company that enables Grab to expand our business quickly, explore new technologies and build new capabilities."
Over the next 24 months, the company will seek to partner 8-10 growth-stage start-ups. This venture will enable the company to speed up the development of new technologies and build fast-growing businesses in-house.
The company will focus on partnering start-ups operating in sectors such as transport, food, logistics and financial services.
Once such example of an in-house venture the company nurtured and launched is GrabCycle, which acts as a marketplace for multiple personal mobility partners.
Technology start-ups under Grab Ventures can leverage Grab’s regional network of partners and market-specific operational expertise, as well as its ecosystem of products, such as GrabPay and GrabRewards to expand their business and geographic reach.
The Grab Ventures portfolio currently includes GrabCycle, a marketplace for multiple personal mobility partners; Kudo, Indonesia’s leading Online-to-Offline (O2O) platform; Drive.ai, AI solutions for autonomous vehicles; and iKaaz, an emerging markets mobile payments platform.
In Singapore, Grab is also partnering with government agencies such as the infocomm media development authority of Singapore (IMDA) and Enterprise SG - this allows Grab to tap into their networks and startup support programmes to help companies grow and scale faster.
These partnerships help in capability development, market access and startup facilitation, regulatory support and grants.
“IMDA is pleased to be working with Grab to take Singapore’s tech scene to the next level,” said Tan Kiat How, CEO of IMDA. “The Velocity programme will help accelerate the growth of start-ups in Singapore and in Southeast Asia, as they look towards revolutionising a variety of sectors in the region."
The company has more than doubled the growth of its mobile app downloads within the past year from 45 million in June 2017 to 100 million to date.
The past year has also seen it expand from 162 Southeast Asian cities to where it is today at 217 Southeast Asia cities.
"Enterprise Singapore, as the government agency championing enterprise growth, sees great synergies in partnering with Grab to help high-potential start-ups develop capabilities, innovate and internationalise,” added Ted Tan, deputy CEO, Enterprise Singapore.
"Through this, we want to strengthen Singapore’s position as a global hub for start-ups in Asia."
The Singapore economic development board (EDB) is also partnering grab in this new venture.