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Hong Kong Startup News Roundup - 4 May 2021


Vaccine Startup Clover Biopharma Files for Hong Kong IPO

Clover Biopharmaceuticals, a Chinese biotech startup developing Covid-19 and other vaccines, filed for an initial public offering (IPO) in Hong Kong, joining a raft of vaccine makers seeking financing through a public flotation.

Chengdu-based Clover didn’t disclose the size of the offering. Goldman Sachs and China International Capital Corporation (CICC) will sponsor the listing.

Several Chinese Covid-19 vaccine developers recently signaled attempts to go public, including Beijing Advaccine Biotechnology Co. Ltd. and Suzhou Abogen Biosciences, Caixin learned.


Hong Kong fintech unicorn WeLab seeks IPO amid virtual bank boom

WeLab, a Hong Kong financial technology company backed by billionaire Li Ka-shing, is in talks with investment banks in preparation for an initial public offering expected later this year, according to five people familiar with the situation.

The eight-year-old startup is considering Hong Kong or the U.S. for its listing, these people said. By the end of 2020, WeLab had 50 million customers across Hong Kong, mainland China and Indonesia, representing a 20% jump from the previous year, thanks to the digital finance boom in the region.

The planned IPO, which could value the company in the range of $1.5 billion to $2 billion, is subject to market conditions, and the company may still decide not to proceed with an offering, the people said. In 2018, it delayed a $500 million IPO in Hong Kong, citing market volatility.

WeLab claimed unicorn status, or valuation of more than $1 billion, in 2017. Since then, it has not publicly updated its valuation.


Singapore Hub FRESH Launched To Drive Novel Food Safety Research & Expedite Regulation

A new Singapore body Future Ready Food Safety Hub (FRESH) has been set up to accelerate food safety research, support food science capabilities and enable regulatory responsiveness to speed up the commercialisation of novel foods. Launched by three Singapore agencies, the organisation is part of the city-state’s plan to bolster food security and lead sustainable food and protein innovation in the Asia region. 

Established by Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore Food Agency (SFA) and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), the new FRESH hub aims to drive food safety science and innovation in Singapore. It comes on the heels of Singapore’s lead in the realm of alternative proteins, becoming the world’s first to approve the commercial sale of cultured meat in December 2020 and the base for an impressive list of homegrown and foreign food techs. 

On the day of the launch on Tuesday (April 27), Professor Joanne Chan, director of the National Centre for Food Science (NCFS) at SFA, said: “FRESH provides an excellent opportunity for multi-disciplinary collaborations between researchers from various research institutions.” 


Pharmacy Online Concierge Pharma has secured $4.5 million in an equity financing round to digitize pharmacies in Vietnam.

Based in Vietnam and Hong Kong, the platform helps stakeholders such as pharmacies, drug manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, and consumers to digitally manage their interactions.

It raised the money from Picus Capital of Germany, Goat Capital and FJ Labs that of the U.S., Febe Ventures 500 Startups Vietnam of Singapore, and several unnamed angel investors. It is one of the biggest rounds at this stage in Vietnam.

POC Pharma said it would use the money to improve its services in Vietnam, focusing on selling pharmaceutical products online first and then aiming to launch in more countries.

Its services include trade programs and trade offers management, content and information sharing, data integration and visualization, customized customer engagement, multichannel commercialization, and order management. Established in 2020 by Thomas Miklavec and Charles Defrance, POC helps pharmacists manage all their processes, increasing revenues and profits while improving their quality of service.


Ping An Global Voyager Fund-backed AI Startup Laiye Raises $50 Million in Series C+ Funding

Ping An Insurance (Group) Company of China, Ltd  delighted to announce that Laiye, China's leader in intelligent automation, has raised $50 million in a Series C+ funding round co-led by the Ping An Global Voyager Fund and Shanghai Artificial Intelligence Industry Equity Investment Fund. Lightspeed China Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Sequoia Capital China and Wu Capital also participated. 

In the last year, Laiye reached several milestones with its innovative product offerings and fast developing ecosystem. Laiye accelerated its international expansion despite the pandemic and is now serving a growing customer base that includes numerous Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, and small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Laiye's annual robotic process automation (RPA) software subscription revenue soared with an impressive 900% year-over-year growth. Its conversational artificial intelligence (AI) product, Laiye Chatbot, also received positive reviews from the user community. Laiye achieved positive cashflow for its enterprise business and profitability for the chatbot business in the fourth quarter of 2020.



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