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Grab-Singtel and Ant Group win digital bank licenses in Singapore

Singapore on Friday granted four firms, including Ant Group and Grab, licenses to run digital banks in the Southeast Asian country, in a move that would allow the tech giants to expand their financial services offerings.
The nation’s central bank, Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), said it applied a “rigorous, merit-based process” to select a strong slate of digital banks. As these digital banks start their pilot operations, MAS said it will review whether more companies could be granted this license.
A total of 21 firms, including TikTok-parent firm ByteDance, had applied to get a digital license, of which 14 met …

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Neuroglee gets $2.3 million to develop digital therapeutics for neurodegenerative diseases

There are now about 50 million people with dementia globally, a number the World Health Organization expects to triple by 2050. Alzheimer’s is the leading cause of dementia and caregivers are often overwhelmed, without enough support.
Neuroglee, a Singapore-based health tech startup, wants to help with a digital therapeutic platform created to treat patients in the early stages of the disease. Founded this year to focus on neurodegenerative diseases, Neuroglee announced today it has raised $2.3 million in pre-seed funding.
The round was led by Eisai Co., one of Japan’s largest pharmaceutical companies, and Kuldeep Singh Rajput, the founder and chief …

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Eat Just to sell lab-grown meat in Singapore after gaining “world first” regulatory approval

Eat Just will start offering lab-grown chicken meat in Singapore after gaining regulatory approval from the Singapore Food Agency (SFA). The cell-cultured chicken will eventually be produced under Eat Just’s new GOOD Meat brand through partnerships with local manufacturers and go on sale to restaurants before it is available to consumers.
No chickens were killed to obtain the cell line used to produce Eat Just’s cultured meat, global head of communications Andrew Noyes told TechCrunch. Instead, the process starts with cell isolation, where cells are sourced through methods that can include a biopsy from a live animal. After …

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AWS brings the Mac mini to its cloud

AWS today opened its re:Invent conference with a surprise announcement: the company is bringing the Mac mini to its cloud. These new EC2 Mac instances, as AWS calls them, are now available in preview. They won’t come cheap, though.
The target audience here — and the only one AWS is targeting for now — is developers who want cloud-based build and testing environments for their Mac and iOS apps. But it’s worth noting that with remote access, you get a fully-featured Mac mini in the cloud, and I’m sure developers will find all kinds of other use cases …

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Lanturn, a Singaporean tech-enabled corporate services provider, raises $3 million seed round

Running a small to medium-sized business means a small staff needs to juggle a plethora of tasks, like bookkeeping, tax records and regulatory filings. Singaporean startup Lanturn streamlines their workload with a combination of corporate services and an internal platform that helps automate administrative work. Lanturn announced today that it has raised a $3 million seed round led by East Ventures and CoCoon Ignite Ventures.

Spun out from Zave, a Singaporean management app (and another startup in East Ventures’ portfolio), two years ago, Lanturn now has almost 400 clients. It focuses on startups and SMEs, acting as a “one-stop online corporate services” solution, and uses its internal tech platform to differentiate from other corporate service providers.

Lanturn’s services include helping companies incorporate in Singapore and handling visa applications for new hires. It is led by chief executive officer Velisarios Kattoulas.

Kattoulas told TechCrunch that Lanturn’s seed funding will be used for hiring and to develop its technology.

In a statement about the investment, East Ventures managing partner and co-founder Batara Eto said, “We are pleased to support solutions that enable agility and adaptability among businesses, especially in the wake of the pandemic, and Lanturn provides that by leveraging technology to streamline corporate services and empower businesses to make more informed data-driven decisions.”

Other participants in the round included individual investors Alex Turnbull; RVP Equity managing partner Saki Georgiadis; Meiyen Tan, the head of Oon & Bazul’s restructuring and insolvency practice; White & Case Asia-Pacific partner Chris Kelly; and Next Billion Ventures venture partner Tiang Foo Lim.

Lanturn’s clients range in size from very early-stage startups with only one person, to small and mid-sized asset managers, SMEs and tech firms that have more than 100 employees spread across several countries.

The COVID-19 pandemic meant there was less demand for Lanturn’s services this year than the company had expected, but on the other hand, “the pandemic has highlighted to clients that because Lanturn has its own cloud-based corporate services platform, we can serve them as well today as we could before the pandemic,” Kattoulas said. “That’s helped us maintain momentum, and it’s one reason we’ll grow more this year than almost any cloud-based or traditional corporate services firm.”

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