JG Summit Holdings, Inc. is diving further into the digital space, pouring $50 million into a unit that will invest in digital ventures and emerging technologies in Southeast Asia.

The Gokongwei-led conglomerate said in a statement Friday that it established JG Digital Equity Ventures (JG DEV), which will deploy capital to early stage startups and successful portfolio companies raising funding at later stages.

The listed firm said JG DEV’s investments will be within the new media, consumer sector, retail and financial services verticals. It will also look at technology platforms that could power future industries such as digital health, data, and logistics.

The aim is to invest in startups that can either augment or disrupt JG Summit’s core businesses, which cover air transport, real estate, banking, telco, power generation, agro-industrial and commodities, and petrochemicals.

“Digital is a key pillar to JG Summit’s future. There is no shortage of ideas in the digital space, so we must focus on a few big bets that generate the most value,” JG Summit President and Chief Executive Officer Lance Y. Gokongwei said in a statement.

JG Summit has already invested at least $40 million in technology startups in the past. This includes SEA Limited, the firm behind online marketplace Shopee, as well as digital lender Oriente which operates in Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines.

“JG is known to have very strong offline businesses. Our group is behind the pack in this digital journey, so our challenge is to leapfrog from where we are,” JG DEV Chief Executive Officer Bach Johann M. Sebastian was quoted as saying.

So far, JG DEV’s portfolio already includes Cashalo, a mobile app that allows users online and offline financing using their smartphones; Growsari, a retail startup that gives sari-sari stores direct access to suppliers; and Snapcart, which provides analytics services to brands by processing offline date like grocery receipts.

JG DEV will also be tasked to build digital businesses in-house and enter into joint ventures that will help its parent firm’s other subsidiaries, such as Cebu Pacific, Robinsons Retail Holdings, Inc., Universal Robina Corp., and Robinsons Land Corp.

“Given the unique combination of the JG’s extensive ecosystem, massive customer base and its forward-thinking leadership, I’m confident that JG DEV will emerge as a digital leader in Asia,” JG DEV Chief Operating Officer Ian Estrada said in a statement.

Shares in JG Summit firmed up 1.32% or 80 centavos to close at P61.50 each at the stock exchange on Friday. — Arra B. Francia