Headlining the initiative will be a business reality series, where 24 start-up teams from across Southeast Asia will pitch and test their ideas through challenges and masterclasses for over S$1 million in seed funding.

Singapore, 16 November 2023 – Budding entrepreneurs and innovators looking to turn potentially groundbreaking ideas into reality now have another runway for their dreams to take flight. Introducing The Big Spark: a new initiative by Mediacorp that aims to connect aspiring gamechangers with investors who can provide the support they need to help them spark their dreams into life.

Developed in collaboration with Elevandi and TiE Global Summit, The Big Spark will kick off with an eight-part business reality show slated to air across CNA platforms from February 2024. Co-created with internationally acclaimed producer and director Jonathan Glazier, the creative force behind celebrated reality show Asia’s Got TalentThe Big Spark will gather aspiring founders and entrepreneurs from diverse sectors and industries such as FinTech, ESG, educational technology, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Software as a Service (SaaS) and health and wellness, hailing from countries across Southeast Asia. A total of 24 start-up teams have been shortlisted to participate in the show, having met qualifying criteria[1] following a call for applications in October.

Over eight episodes, they will pitch and test their best business ideas, through a series of challenges and masterclasses, to some of the region’s most prominent venture capitalists for a shot at over S$1 million in seed funding. They will do so under the mentorship of resident judges Roshni Mahtani Cheung, Founder & Group CEO of The Parentinc, and Lim Wai Mun, Founder & CEO of health & wellness company Doctor Anywhere, as well as an eminent line-up of guest judges who will feature in each episode. Please refer to Annex A for a complete line-up of the guest judges and venture capitalists.

Beyond the reality show, The Big Spark aims to be a platform to cement Singapore’s position as a launchpad for innovation and entrepreneurship. In its capacity as Singapore’s national media network, Mediacorp will lend its wide reach and multiple platforms to support the region’s start-up culture, connecting key players across the ecosystem to nurture promising enterprise. In the longer term, the vision is for The Big Spark to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs across Singapore and Southeast Asia, and give them the support they need to scale up their businesses and soar.

Parminder Singh, Chief Commercial and Digital Officer, Mediacorp, said, “Even amidst the challenges of recent years, innovators in Southeast Asia have never stopped imagining the impossible. It is with this exciting prospect in mind that we conceived The Big Spark as a platform for them to connect with investors and raise the capital needed for their ideas to lift off. At the same time, we are harnessing our creative and production strengths to tell their stories of grit, passion and determination to a wider audience. We thank all our partners for their support in enabling us to spark a new wave of entrepreneurship and innovation across the region, and we trust that viewers will enjoy and be inspired by watching the series.”

Jonathan Glazier, Executive Producer & Director of The Big Spark, said, “I was delighted to be asked to develop this new business reality show with Mediacorp for CNA. It is always a pleasure to experience the industry I love through the lens of another culture. I know national broadcasters and large media corporations well, and it is a great experience to be back in this environment at Mediacorp.” He added, “The Big Spark is very much in the new breed of reality show. Rather than being about conflict and drama, it’s about supportive communities; a series for good, if you will. To create a new show in one of the most creative parts of the world, full of innovation and ideas, has been a joy. Unlike other business reality shows, we aim to reflect the reality of the entrepreneurial journey, to support and to inspire. Anyone with an idea or a dream of starting their own business should get some really interesting tips from leaders in the business world by following The Big Spark.”

Amit Gupta, Global Trustee, TiE & President, TiE SG, and Founder, Ecosystm Group, said, “At TiE Singapore, we truly believe that entrepreneurship is #GoodfortheWorld and offers solutions to some of our greatest challenges. The Big Spark is our way of recognising that the future of Southeast Asia lies in inspiring and creating a platform for the next generation of entrepreneurs as they leave their mark on one of the world’s most culturally diverse and dynamic markets. As a non-profit and a part of the world’s largest entrepreneur & investor community, TiE Singapore has always been focused on giving back to the Singapore and Southeast Asia start-up ecosystem. With the TiE Global Summit 2023 being hosted in Singapore this year, we are grateful to Mediacorp & CNA, and Elevandi to collaborate on this start-up reality show, with a view to humanise entrepreneurship, and hopefully inspire and captivate viewers with compelling pitches and stories of ambition and innovation.”

Rebecca Martin, Head of Strategy, Elevandi, said, “We’re proud to launch The Big Spark to elevate the voice of entrepreneurs across Southeast Asia and provide a powerful platform to raise capital. Through comprehensive educational programs and the dynamic Founders Peak stage, Elevandi is committed to empowering entrepreneurs with the essential tools for success.  The Big Spark will intimately chronicle the founder’s journey, showcasing their resilience in navigating challenges—whether it be scaling regionally, fundraising, or managing their own mental health. With a substantial $1 million investment opportunity and the invaluable lessons gleaned along the way, these entrepreneurs are poised to accelerate their impact on the world.

The Big Spark is made possible by official partners Smart Nation Singapore, UOB, Mastercard, Ant Group, Google Cloud, Ohmyhome, M1, Zoom, and Motion Content Group; official innovation hub partner Hatch; knowledge partner Ecosystm; hospitality partner Sofitel; and supporting partner Constellar.

For more information on The Big Spark, please visit www.channelnewsasia.com/the-big-spark

Annex A

Guest judges of The Big Spark

  • Amit Gupta, President SG & Global Trustee, TiE and Founder, Ecosystm Group
  • Mustafa Kapasi, Chief Commercial Officer, M1
  • Ricky Kapur, Head of Asia Pacific, Zoom
  • Safdar Khan, Division President, Southeast Asia, Mastercard
  • Eric Lian, Head of Group Commercial Banking, UOB
  • Ullrich Loeffler, Co-Founder and CEO, Ecosystm Group
  • Rebecca Martin, Head of Strategy, Elevandi
  • Mark Micallef, Managing Director, Southeast Asia, Google Cloud
  • Ng Yeow Boon, Deputy Chief Executive (Development), Home Team Science & Technology Agency (HTX)
  • Raagulan Pathy, Vice President, Asia Pacific, Circle
  • Rhonda Wong, Group CEO and Co-Founder, Ohmyhome

Venture capitalists participating in The Big Spark

  • Vanessa Ho, Co-Founder, Fintech Nation
  • Visa Kannan, Partner, Saison Capital
  • Murli Ravi, Co-Founder, Tin Men Capital
  • Jussi Salovaara, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, Asia, Antler
  • John Sharp, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, Hatcher+
  • Sebastian Togelang, Rigel-Farro Capital
  • Neeraj Tyagi, Co-Founder and CEO, We Founders Circle & Invstt / Co-Founder & Partner, Avinya Ventures
  • Anuj Golecha, Co-Founder, Venture Catalysts / 9 Unicorns

[1] To be eligible, applicants’ place of residency had to be within Singapore or the Southeast Asia region. Applicants could apply as a group of up to three participants, and need not own a registered company. For applicants applying for their registered company, their business entity had to be registered within Singapore or the Southeast Asia region, and their start-up funding stage had to be up to pre-series A only.