SME Grants And Schemes in Singapore – The 2020 Guide

In a previous article, we compiled a list of grants and schemes specifically for Singaporean startups. The list encompassed grants and schemes that are relevant in October 2020 and beyond. Included were incentives laid out in the 2020 Supplementary Budget in lieu of COVID-19’s impact on businesses.

This article seeks to do the same for Singapore’s Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG)

The PSG encourages companies to adopt IT solutions and equipment to enhance their business processes in Singapore. As announced in the Supplementary Budget 2020, PSG will be enhanced to encourage enterprises to continue their digitalisation and productivity upgrading efforts. Solutions that are supported cut across industries such as:

  • customer management
  • data analytics
  • financial management
  • inventory tracking

Sectors of interest: retail, food, logistics, precision engineering, construction and landscaping industries

Open to: SMEs which are registered and operating in Singapore with a minimum shareholding of 30%, annual sales turnover of less than S$100 million and have less than 200 employees

Participants receive: readily adoptable solutions that can be found on GoBusiness Gov Assist; maximum funding support level has been raised to 80% from 1 April 2020 to 30 September 2021

The extended COVID-19 business continuity support which will last until 31 Dec 2020 include:

  • Online collaboration tools (including laptop-bundled remote working solutions)
  • Virtual meeting and telephony tools
  • Queue management systems
  • Temperature screening solutions

(Steps on how to apply here)  

Business Improvement Fund (BIF)

The BIF is for both SMEs and non-SMEs. Its purpose is to encourage technology innovation and adoption as well as the redesigning of business models and processes in the tourism sector to improve productivity and competitiveness.

Sectors of interest: tourism, technology for tourism

Open to: all SME businesses embarking on projects with a clear tourism focus

Participants receive: funding on a reimbursement basis for qualifying costs, subject to Singapore Tourism Board’s evaluation of the scope and merits of the project

For tourism companies, the BIF supports projects that upgrade or innovate the business under two pillars:

  1. Core Capabilities – prepare for growth and transformation by strengthening their business foundations
  2. Innovation & Productivity – explore new areas of growth, or look for ways to enhance efficiency

Read about the complete list of qualifying costs and the application process on STB’s website.

Enterprise Development Grant (EDG)

Valid until 31 March 2023,  EDG is a merger of the Capabilities Development Grant and Global Company Partnership (GCP) Grant. Managed by Enterprise Singapore (ESG), it is designed to help SMEs in 3 main areas: core capabilities, innovation and productivity, market access.

Open to: SMEs

Participants receive: government grant of 70% under normal circumstances till 31 March 2023; 90% to defray the costs of qualifying projects for SMEs adversely affected by COVID-19 and 80% for all other qualified SMEs till December 2020.

Click here for more details on the 3 main areas, criteria and application checklist.

Market Readiness Assistance Grant (MRA)

The grant gives SMEs a boost to help them take their business overseas by supporting part of their third party market expansion costs.

Open to: Singapore-based SMEs whose new market entry has not exceeded S$100,000 in overseas sales in each of the last three preceding years

Participants receive: up to 70% of eligible costs, capped at S$100,000 per company per new market* from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2023

Click here for the full list of supportable activities.

GoCloud

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: SMEs with 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

More details on GoCloud criteria and how to apply here.

Lean Enterprise Development (LED) Scheme

The scheme helps a company become more manpower-lean, build a stronger Singaporean core and develop a better quality workforce.

Open to: SMEs registered in Singapore (employees sent for training should be Singapore citizens or PRs)

Participants receive: a variety of non-monetary support

SMEs need to visit the Business Grants Portal to apply for support for job redesign, or to raise productivity and build capabilities for sustainable growth. A CorpPass is required.

To apply for support for transitional manpower flexibility, they need to use the online LED Scheme application form. Assistance is also provided for writing proposals via SME Centres or your trade associations.

More detailed information is available on the Ministry of Manpower website.

P-MAX

As part of the SkillsFuture initiative, it aims to mainly help SMEs to better recruit, train, manage and retain their newly-hired Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians (PMETs).

Open to: local SMEs looking to hire PMETs (Singaporeans and Singapore Permanent Residents only) based on required employment criteria

Participants receive:

  1. Up to 90% funding support from WSG for respective SME and PMET  workshop course fees
  2. A one-off S$5,000 Assistance Grant for SMEs which successfully complete the 6-month follow-up aimed at strengthening HR practices and retain their newly-hired PMET employee(s)

Further information can be obtained on P-Max from the SkillsFuture website.

Enterprise Financing Scheme (EFS)

Launched on 29 October 2019 by Enterprise Singapore, the EFS streamlines existing financing schemes and extends support given to young companies.

Open to: SMEs

Participants receive: loans to support 6 areas of need (in the event of an SME’s insolvency, Enterprise Singapore shares the loan default risk with the Participating Financial Institution)

1.  SME Working Capital Loan

It finances daily operational cash flow needs of up to S$1 million per borrower. The loan has been enhanced for a year, until 31 March 2021.

2.  SME Fixed Assets Loan

The loan finances the investment of domestic and overseas fixed assets. The maximum amount per borrower group is S$30 million.

3.  Venture Debt Loan

This funding is only for innovative enterprises. It finances the growth of such enterprises using Venture Debt and Warrants. Each borrower group can receive up to S$5 million.

4.  Trade Loan

Only for trade needs, it allows each borrower group to loan up to S$10 million. The Trade Loan has been enhanced for a year, until 31 March 2021.

5.  Project Loan

This is only for financing the fulfillment of secured overseas projects. The loan is at a maximum of S$50 million per borrower group.

  1. Mergers & Acquisitions Loan

Finance the acquisition of target enterprises with the intent of internationalisation.

For more details on each loan and the respective application process, go to Enterprise Singapore.

[email protected]

The [email protected] programme seeks to grow and nurture the local InfoComm and Media (ICM) technology ecosystem. It does so by accrediting promising and innovative Singapore-based high-growth ICM product companies with the hope that they can secure contracts with larger organisations.

Sector of interest: ICM industry

Open to: all businesses in the ICM industry

Participants receive: accreditation issued by the InfoComm Media Development Authority (IMDA)

From the launch of [email protected] in 2014 until September 2020, over S$630 million worth of project opportunities have been created for accredited companies and over 1,000 projects have been awarded.

In March 2019, IMDA launched a new SecureTech track with Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) to improve the quality of cybersecurity products of SMEs in Singapore through the adoption of Common Criteria (CC) certification.

You can obtain more details about the accreditation process on the IMDA website.

Financial Sector Technology and Innovation (FSTI) Scheme 

Valid until March 2023, this umbrella scheme provides partial funding for the creation of a vibrant ecosystem for innovation. There are 7 programmes under FSTI, supported by the MAS.

Applicants are advised to engage with MAS first then submit applications 3 months before project commencement to [email protected] Different application processes may apply to certain programmes.

More details about each programme are available in this link: https://www.mas.gov.sg/schemes-and-initiatives/fsti-scheme.

1. Innovation Centre

Its purpose is to attract financial institutions to set up labs, or innovation centres of excellence (COE) in Singapore, to test-bed innovative ideas and roll out market solutions.

Open to: financial institutions (FIs) or corporate entities involved in establishing, expanding or relocating an identified innovation function to Singapore

Participants receive: partial funding for FI innovation COE or lab; co-funding on new Singaporean hires for qualifying roles

2. Institution-level Projects

This track encourages Singapore-based FIs to catalyse innovative ideas and market solutions to advance the competitiveness of the FI and the sector.

Open to: Singapore-based financial institutions, market/professional organisations or associations

Participants receive: up to 50% of the level of funding support for qualifying expenses, capped at S$1 million

3. Industry-wide Track

This track hopes to build technological or utility infrastructure. It also aims to improve efficiency and boost productivity in the financial services sector.

Open to: Singapore-based FIs, market or professional organisations or associations, industry consortiums, and non-FI solution providers/companies

Participants receive: up to 70% funding support for qualifying expenses 

4. MAS FSTI Proof-of-Concept Grant

Valid until March 2023, it offers partial funding support for the experimentation, development and dissemination of nascent innovative technologies in the financial services sector.

Open to: MAS-regulated FIs or technology /solution providers working with MAS-regulated FIs for the early stage development of novel solutions to problems in the financial industry

Participants receive: up to 70% of funding for qualifying costs for 18 months, capped at S$400,000.

There are evaluation cycles for submissions. You can obtain further details and application forms on the MAS website.

5. Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics Grant (AIDA)

This grant is specific to the AIDA ecosystem in the Singapore financial sector.

Open to: Singapore-based FIs or industry consortiums

Participants receive: co-funding of up to 50% for qualifying expenses; different funding caps apply

6. Cybersecurity Capability Grant

Its aim is to deepen cybersecurity capabilities and develop local cybersecurity talent in Singapore’s Financial Services sector.

Open to: Singapore-based FIs involved in either establishing, expanding or relocating cybersecurity functions to Singapore

Participants receive: co-funding of up to 50% for qualifying expenses over 3 years with a cap of S$3 million.

7. Digital Acceleration Grant (DAG)

DAG supports smaller financial institutions and FinTech firms based in Singapore to adopt digital solutions to improve productivity, strengthen operational resilience, manage risks better and serve customers better.

Open to: Singapore-based FIs and Fintech firms with less than 200 employees

Participants receive: 80% co-funding of qualifying expenses for applications submitted by 31 December 2021, after which co-funding is at only 70%; funding duration is 1 year for institution projects and 2 years for industry pilots

(a) Institution Project

Open to: smaller FIs and Fintechs which adopt digital solutions

Participants receive: 1 year co-funding for 80% of claimed qualifying expenses incurred from 1 February 2020, capped at S$120,000 per entity

(b) Industry Pilot

Open to: FIs which have joint projects to customise an existing solution with a solution provider

Participants receive: 80% co-funding of qualifying expenses, capped at $100,000 per participating entity, per project over a period of 2 years from implementation

Wrap Up

We hope this list can be useful to all the Small and Medium Enterprises in Singapore, especially to tide over the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this blog is for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. While we endeavour to provide information that is as up-to-date as possible, Intime Accounting makes no warranties or representations of any kind, express or implied about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the content on the blog for any purpose. Readers are encouraged to obtain formal, independent advice before making any decisions.

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