Grab launches venture arm to further boost its O2O platform

Grab’s innovation arm is looking to invest in and partner with growth-stage startups.

Southeast Asia’s ride-hailing giant is really at it.

Following its acquisition of Uber’s SEA operations in March and rollout of the digital wallet and food delivery services in multiple countries across the region last month, the Singapore-headquartered regional unicorn, took another step towards its vision to become an everyday app for consumers.

Grab announced Tuesday the launch of Grab Ventures, its innovation arm, in an aim to find and support the future technologies leaders across the region.

The announcement coincides with Grab’s 6th anniversary. Anthony Tan, Group CEO and Co-Founder of Grab, said in a statement while his company is ramping up innovation in-house on its way to become a major mobile platform in Southeast Asia, it’d also look for opportunities to partner with and invest in suitable company to both expand its business and help grow the local startup ecosystem.

Grab has been aggressively adding new features and services to its original ride-hailing platform, which has turned itself into an o20 mobile platform that connects consumers with a variety of services, ranging from ride-hailing, mobile payment, food delivery, to others.

For instance,  GrabCycle, a marketplace for multiple personal mobility partners, is an example of an in-house venture nurtured and launched by Grab. Grab Ventures current portfolio also includes Kudo, an Indonesian leading O2O platform, Driver.ai, an AI solution provider for autonomous vehicles and iKaaz, an emerging markets mobile payments platform.

Grab Ventures will be looking to partner with the private sector and government agencies in Southeast Asia to help growth-stage tech companies in their journey to solve transportation, logistics, food and payment challenges in the region.

In the next 2 years, Grab’s innovation arm is looking to partner 8-10 growth-stage startups that exhibit strong synergies with Grab, particularly in sectors such as transport, food, logistics and financial services.

Grab is facing a looming uphill battle with its arch-foe in the region, as Jakarta-based Go-Jek, another deep pocket regional unicorn, is stepping outside of its home market to venture into other SEA countries as we reported before.

Editor: Ben Jiang