The number of new COVID-19 cases in Singapore seems to be tapering but does not show any signs of abating yet in many countries. And because the Singapore economy is very much reliant on global trade, the pandemic continues to take a toll on business activities within Singapore.
This has subsequently caused the unemployment rate to hit 3.4% in October 2020, surpassing the effects of the global financial crisis in September 2019. In response to this crisis, one of the government’s main priorities is to boost the economy by supporting startup companies, which make up a substantial percentage of enterprises in the country.
One of the biggest advantages of startups is that they create jobs in times where people are being laid off. The biggest problem startups are facing now is financial shortage. That is why we have put together a list of grants and schemes which cater specifically to startups in respect of financial aid and other types of support.
What is a Startup?
The term generally refers to a company in its first stages of operations. In Singapore, a startup constitutes a business entity that has been registered for less than 5 years. Its employment size is less than 200 workers and annual sales turnover does not exceed S$100 million.
ACE Covid-19 Resources
Action Community for Entrepreneurship (ACE) collaborated with Enterprise Singapore to collate a comprehensive list of resources for startups. The list includes assistance schemes from private and public organisations as well as pro-bono networks. It is intended to help startups cope with the pandemic impacts.
Open to: all startups
Participants receive: depends on the participating organisation – includes funding
Here is the complete list of ACE Covid-19 resources.
Startup SG Founder
The scheme created for new entrepreneurs now has two tracks, as released in the 20 August 2020 media statement. They are the new “Train” track and the “Start” track.
Train track (Venture Building programme)
A 3-month programme, it is for aspiring entrepreneurs (fresh graduates) who have an innovative idea but need help with setting up the business. It will be useful for them to find out on how to incorporate a company in Singapore before starting one.
Open to: Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents with no business experience
Participants receive: monthly stipends of S$1,500 for 3 months, mentorship, shared resources and assistance with finding capital
In this track, entrepreneurs with innovative and unique ideas can approach ESG-appointed Accredited Mentor Partners.
Open to: Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents
Participants receive: Grant of S$50,000 (maximum) from ESG to maximum raised capital of S$10,000, advice, learning programmes and networking contacts
Startup SG Tech
A grant created for startups based on proprietary technology and a scalable business model, it has been revised to provide greater ease of cash flow to its recipients. The grant for approved applications from 1 August 2017 is now awarded after completion of each milestone.
Sectors of interest: robotics, biomedical sciences and healthcare, clean technology, ICT, new industries (e.g. AR, smart packaging, space tech, blockchain), precision engineering, transport engineering, food science and technology
Open to: startup companies incorporated less than 5 years
Participants receive: grant cap for Proof-of-Concept at S$250,000 and Proof-of-Value at S$500,000
Startup SG Equity scheme
Aimed at deep-tech startups in key emerging sectors, the co-funding scheme is for both startups and investors of the startups. It supports mainly Singapore-based tech startups with intellectual property and global market potential. Startups must find third party investors for which the Singapore government will match funding according to specific ratios.
Sectors of interest: advanced manufacturing, pharmbio or medtech, and agri-food tech
Open to: Singapore-based companies incorporated less than 5 years and third-party investors
Participants receive: investment cap of S$8 million for each startup (co-funding terms apply)
Enterprise Development Grant (EDG)
This grant supports enterprises on three fronts: core capabilities, innovation and productivity, and market access. In this manner, it is hoped that they will be able to have strong foundations, adopt innovative processes and venture overseas.
Open to: Singapore-registered companies with at least 30% local shareholding
Participants receive: funding for costs of qualified projects, namely third party consultancy fees, software and equipment, and internal manpower – up to 80% from 1 April 2020 to 31 December 2020, and up to 90% for enterprises badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic
* From 1 April 2020, all EDG applicants are expected to commit to worker outcomes as part of the qualifying criteria.
Early Stage Venture Fund (ESVF)
The ESVF is basically an initiative under the National Framework for Innovation and Enterprise. It brings on board venture capital firms to invest in early-stage technology start-ups.
Sectors of interest: innovative technology, disruptive digital technology, new industries
Open to: Singapore-based startups with innovative technologies and business models
Participants receive: funding from venture capital firms with matching funding from the National Research Foundation (NRF)
Jobs Growth Incentive (JGI)
In force from the start of September 2020 to the end February 2021, the objective of the scheme is to accelerate local employment during this 6-month period. Companies that want to gain from JGI must employ new local staff.
Open to: all companies established before 17 August 2020 which make timely CPF contributions
Participants receive: salary support for the new hires up to 50% of their gross monthly wages
This initiative is by Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA). It supports ICT startups and SMEs in shifting their systems into Cloud Native architecture so that they may be able to serve their customers effectively at scale. Apart from Cloud Native, there are Microservices and DevOps.
Sector of interest: ICT
Open to: ICT startups (incorporated less than 5 years) and SMEs – both of which must have at least 30% local shareholding and less than S$100 million annual sales turnover, and less than 200 workers
Participants receive: support up to 80% of professional fees for going Cloud Native via appointed service providers, consultancy, training, coaching
This programme is offered by a partnership of Singapore Institute of Technology, IMDA and Cybersecurity Agency of Singapore. Aimed at promoting and developing cybersecurity capabilities for local enterprises, it helps participants identify security gaps in their ICT products and solutions then build better cybersecurity capabilities.
Open to: companies that are Singapore-owned or Singapore-based and IP owner of product/solution
Participants receive: fee subsidy of S$6,500, free assessment and expertise
The grant is a project by the Singapore Tourism Board. It is limited to innovative business activities with strong tourism potential and scalability. The concepts and events proposed can be hybrid in nature, i.e. cut across multiple lifestyle and business sectors.
Sector of interest: tourism-related lifestyle concepts and events including pop ups, services and hybrid events
Open to: all legal entities
Participants receive: maximum funding of S$200,000 per project for qualifying costs (professional services, equipment & materials, production, marketing costs and internal manpower) excluding operating costs of the business and costs incurred from related parties
Dreamlabs is an organisation holding a venture capital fund of S$50 million. They focus on helping entrepreneurs who invent new market categories or intend to disrupt existing ones, as well as have ideas with scalability potential.
Sectors of interest: cleantech, fintech, e-commerce, healthcare, energy
Open to: all entrepreneurs and startups
Participants receive: financing, mentorship, infrastructure, network
More details on Dreamlabs.
The purpose of this fund is to encourage organisations to reduce waste. It is only applicable if the waste is disposed of at the National Environment Agency’s incineration plants and disposal facilities.
Open to: all organisations in Singapore
Participants receive: co-funding of up to 80% of qualifying costs capped at S$1 million per project or per applicant
Call For Ideas Fund
A grant by the National Environment Agency (NEA), it offers co-funding for two tracks – the Active Citizenry Track and Mobile Applications Track – both of which are centered around environmental issues. The track that is relevant to business entities is the latter.
Mobile Applications Track
The mobile app developed should enhance the NEA’s environmental information dissemination, among other objectives.
Open to: any Singapore registered company
Participants receive: maximum co-payment of S$20,000 or 80% of the total project cost for supportable items (whichever is lower)
Double Tax Deduction for Internationalisation (DTDi)
Though not specifically for startups, the DTDi can be utilised by startups as long as they are planning to expand overseas. The 4 key categories of activities supported in this scheme are market preparation, market exploration, market promotion and market presence.
Open to: companies planning to expand abroad
Participants receive: 200% tax deduction on expenses for international market expansion and investment development activities with a cap of S$150,000
Some of the requirements of setting up a startup include having a registered office and appointing a company secretary. A corporate service provider can provide corporate secretary services, and help you manage your requirements related to the grants.
For existing startups, a corporate service provider can also assist with filing important documents to comply with compliance deadlines and requirements. Choose one which is a trusted choice for Small and Medium Enterprises. This type of firm can offer reliable services at a more affordable rate.
With a dedicated corporate services firm handling any legal requirements, you can better direct your resources towards the actual running of your start-up and realising your goals.