Q: What is BIIC? What is its objective, and what series of innovation is it focusing on?
A: BIIC or Bangchak Initiative and Innovation Center was set up in 2017 to scout for new businesses that will be the new S Curve supporting the business of the BCP group; including the refinery business, marketing business, and what we highly emphasize, the green electricity energy business under BCPG Plc. and the bio-based business under the BBGI PCL. This coincides with the goals of the BCP business group within the next 5 years, in which we intend to adjust our business portfolio to consist of Oil and Non-oil business in 50/50 proportion, from the current 60/40 proportion.
There are 3 working teams within BIIC, the first of which is the Corporate Venture Capital (CVC), this team will look for and invest in Startups; which in the beginning was solely focused on the United States and later moving on to the EU countries, China, and Israel. And, in late 2018, BCP established 4 new subsidiaries to invest in new Start-ups in Thailand exclusively on businesses that is innovation related; concentrating on investing domestically. The second team is the Research and Development team (R&D) focusing on the creation of new products, especially on Bio-based products. The R&D has numerous researches under their supervision i.e. seaweed related products; which has moved pass the research phase and is moving on to the next step, BBGI Plc. has shown interest in this product and will be taking the reins from the R&D team. The last team oversees Ecosystems and Incubation to which they will be corresponding with various agencies i.e. universities, laboratories, government agencies, and including assortments of start-ups based in Thailand.
Q: What is BIIC’s investment goal? Currently, which company has BIIC joint invested in or is supporting?
A: BIIC investments, which is under the CVC team’s care, uses investments as a way to garner new technologies and networks, not just driven by profit, these strategic investments will focus its resources on Start-ups with Deep Tech. Presently, BIIC has invested in 4 companies, 2 of which is involved in energy and the other 2 is involved in Bio-based product business, as examples of projects that received BIIC’s investments.
The first business that we invested in during late 2017 was Bonumose, this company produces healthy sugar from plant-based raw material with special properties such as compounds that is found in nature, taste like sugar, when ingested the body will absorb less energy from said compound than glucose found in ordinary sugar, thus making it more suitable for people that has problems with diabetes, as well as health conscious consumers who wants to watch their weight. BIIC sees high potential in the company’s technology; adding value to agriculture products, furthering the company group’s Bio-based product.
Furthermore, the company in late 2017 also invested in a business associated with electric power plant business that company is Semtive which operates cutting edge windmill power plant technology that includes micro windmill blades designed especially to operate under low wind speed and possesses the micro inverter that suits operations in households and commercial buildings. BIIC foresees that this technology can be capitalized along with the Blockchain system for peer-to-peer electricity trade.
Moving along to late 2018, we invested in a Startup working on Animal-Free Collagen which resulted from the Synthetic Biology production method, using sugar as the raw material, the aforementioned collagen is used as part of the mixture in cosmetics and skin care products, its properties gives way to 5 times the moisture in Marine Collagen, it has no color, scentless, and is PH neutral. Presently, products from some leading cosmetic brands have included the Collagen from the startup in their products have been launched to the market since mid-2018.
Recently, in early 2019, we invested in an EV car battery startup specializing in Fast Charging Batteries with High Energy Density, meaning that aside from charging up very fast, the battery can hold its battery longer, allowing cars to be driven farther. The CVC team focuses its investments on mid-size businesses, and monitors the other people who are investing in this business. This business that we have invested in has a one of the top global scale car battery company investing in it, as well as large size car makers investing in the company as well. Aside from learning more about the technology and the network, we are able to follow the changes in future global trends because the batteries being produced may become the battery of the future.
Q: We understand that BIIC allows Thai Startups to pitch their projects, we would like to get details on the pitches and how are they fared. How many pitches were of interest, and what sort of innovation were they?
A: Our third team that works on Ecosystems and Incubation is responsible for this, they have networked with startups and accelerators in Thailand, including government agencies such as the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), the National Science Technology and Innovation Policy Office (STI), and various universities.
BIIC has opened its doors to startups to pitch their plans every month throughout 2018, the first round pitch occurred on the 4th of April, 2018 at BIIC on the 5th floor of BCP HQ at the M Tower. Startups that have piqued BCP’s interest will receive maximum investment budget of THB 35 million per team. During 2018, BCP held 5 pitching sessions which saw 30 to 40 startups presenting, as well as SME Startups which we collaborated with the Marketing Business Group that concerned Food Innovation, which proved a success, receiving a SPAR AWARD, and is actually being sold in SPAR convenience stores.
Due to Startups in Thailand being far and few in between, and with most of them focusing on Fintech, as for BCP, the company is interested in two areas deep tech startups which concerns green energy and Bio-based products, which are not so numerous in numbers. However, the BIIC will stay the course and will support the Ecosystem in Thailand in order to give opportunities to Thais new concepts for innovation and technology to showcase their work and to align themselves with us.