At first glance, having your startups based in Singapore seems like a bad idea due to the small market size, expensive labor force, and high opportunity costs. But the country has turned the tide with its business-friendly policies and timely government grants, creating a paradise for startups and small businesses to grow without excessive red tape or financial burden.

Here are some worth noting public (or government-linked) supports that are offered by our government:

1JTC | Launchpad  Office Space
2Startup SG  Startup Ecosystem
3Startup SG | Programmes  Funding Programs
4SG Innovate  Deep Tech Community
5ACE  Startup Community
6NRF  Research Funding and Programs
7Enterprise SG  Capability building, innovation, and internationalization
8IRAS  Tax Incentives

While each of them deserves a dedicated article to fully explore, let’s talk about non-equity BUSINESS GRANTS today as they are the hot topic for startups in this time of uncertainty.

The COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on our economy and pushed businesses to the brink of bankruptcy. As a result, these grants have become the lifesaver and fuel for startups and small businesses to flourish. 

Unfortunately, finding out which grants are available and suitable for you is anything but simple. And more often than not, firms found themselves confused due to the sheer options and rules that need to follow. 

This is why we created this article to show you which grants are considered useful for startups in building internal capabilities, scaling businesses, focusing on innovation, or expanding offshore operations.

 

The Organization That Start It All: Enterprise Singapore (ESG)

Formed on 1 April 2018, Enterprise Singapore is the government agency championing enterprise development. Their mission is to support the growth of Singapore as a hub for global trading and startups to upgrade capabilities, innovate, transform, and internationalize.

Most of the Singapore grants for startups are administered by them. However, ESG is a pretty big organization with a jungle of departments so finding out the right one can be a daunting task – regardless, any officer in ESG will gladly help you on this matter.

Hence, the crucial part is actually knowing which grants you should apply to.

 

The Top Grants For Startup and Small Businesses

1  Market Readiness Assistance (MRA)Link Here
2   Productivity Solutions Grant  (PSG)Link Here
3   Market Access & Development (EDG – Market Access)*Link Here
4   Core Capabilities (EDG – Core Capabilities)*Link Here
5   Innovation & Productivity (EDG – Innovation and Productivity)*Link Here

*The last 3 grants are sub-grants in the Enterprise Development Grant (EDG)

**The links above are direct to the official site, so you will have your most accurate/updated/verbose details from there.

 

MRA – Market Readiness Assistance Grant

MRA Grant Will Help Free Your Offshore Operations’ Financial Burden

Figure 2: MRA Grant Will Help Free Your Offshore Operations’ Financial Burden

The Market Readiness Assistance (MRA) Grant is a program offered to Singapore based startups and SMEs who are on the journey to expand their business overseas. In summary, the government funds will help pay 70% of the incurred costs (capped at S$100,000 per company per new market) on qualifying activities for venturing into a new oversea market, including:  

    • Overseas business development (Capped at S$50,000)
    • Overseas market set-up (Capped at S$30,000)
    • Overseas market promotion (Capped at S$20,000)

This is a huge deal for businesses that are struggling to keep their cash flow positive, especially in the post-COVID-19 pandemic world. The situation is even worse for startups and SMEs that are expanding their tech hub and resource overseas. From the perspective of these companies, the MRA grant is truly a “lifesaver” to their offshore journey. 

Eligibility

Small and Medium Enterprises that meet the following criteria: 

    • Business entity/headquarter is based in Singapore
    • Pass the new market entry requirement: overseas sales remain under S$100,000 in each of the last three preceding years
    • Own at least 30% of the company shares in Singapore
    • The Group Annual Sales Turnover must be lower than S$100 million OR having less than 200 employees

Application Requirements

    1. Get a quotation from a pre-approved third-party consultant.
    2. Submit an application on the Business Grants Portal.
    3. ON APPROVAL, sign the engagement letter with the third-party.
      Retrospective applications will not be accepted.

 

PSG – Productivity Solutions Grant

The Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG) supports companies keen on adopting IT solutions and equipment to enhance business processes, such as customer management, data analytics, financial management, and inventory tracking.

The list of readily available solutions can be found on Tech Depot.

COVID-19 Support

To encourage enterprises on their digitalization and productivity upgrading efforts, the maximum funding support level will be raised to 80% from 1 April 2020 to 31 December 2020. 

The scope of generic solutions will also be expanded to help enterprises implement COVID-19 business continuity measures, including: 

    • Online collaboration tools 
    • Virtual meeting and telephony tools 
    • Queue management systems 
    • Temperature screening solutions
    • Laptop-Bundled Remote Working Solutions (17 April until 31 December 2020.)

The last measure of “Laptop-Bundled Remote Working Solutions” is particularly attractive, and we at Tech JDI have also applied for this grant (and are approved) for Axiom’s Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 + Microsoft 365 Business bundle sets.

Eligibility

Small and Medium Enterprises that meet the following criteria: 

    • Business entity/headquarter is based in Singapore
    • Purchase/lease/subscription of the IT solutions or equipment must be used in Singapore
    • Own at least 30% of the company shares in Singapore
    • The Group Annual Sales Turnover must be lower than S$100 million OR having less than 200 employees

Application Requirements

    1. Identify relevant solutions from Tech Depot
    2. Get a quotation from a pre-approved vendor
    3. Submit an application on the Business Grants Portal

 

EDG – Enterprise Development Grant

Enterprise Development Grant helps SMEs in growing their business oversea

Enterprise Development Grant helps SMEs in growing their business oversea

Aiming to foster business development and growth to its full potential, the EDG can be seen as a much broader grant compared to the MRA which only focuses on overseas operations.

The Enterprise Development Grant will help pay up to 80% of the project costs (90% for firms who are severely impacted by COVID-19).  Aiming to help SMEs in growing their business, the enterprise development grant work as a financial assistance program for companies to expand their internal capabilities in 3 main areas:

    • Market Access 
    • Core Capabilities
    • Innovation and Productivity

Only projects that are new and not generating any revenue at the point of submission will be covered by EDG.

Additionally, unionized companies and e2i partners under the Labour Movement will receive an extra 10% grant cover thanks to the NTUC-e2i’s endorsement. 

From 1 Apr 2020, all companies applying for the Enterprise Development Grant must commit to achieving workers’ outcomes to qualify for up to 70% funding. Companies have to select at least 1 of 4 workers outcomes:

    • Wage increment
    • Redesign of existing jobs
    • New jobs created
    • Training for better prospects

Coupled with the MRA, you can potentially secure more than S$200,000 for your business!

That is a lot of money.

Eligibility

Only SMEs that meet these following criteria are eligible for the EDG:

  • Business entity/headquarter is based in Singapore
  • Own at least 30% of the company shares in Singapore
  • Have the capability to carry out the project successfully

Application Requirements

Project Proposal: Choose the key project category to apply and prepare the proposal. If you are unfamiliar with these procedures, here are the proposal templates to help your preparation: 

* For SMEs that applying for EDG to cover consultancy-related costs, you are required to be engaged with management consultants who have the Enterprise Singapore-recognised certification

Supporting documents: Click here for the full detail check-list.

Contact Tech JDI for Offshoring Consultancy

 

The Portal – How To Apply For Business Grants (Gov)

To apply for a grant, you will need to:

    1. Register an account on CorpPass 
    2. Get a cost quotation from the third-party vendor
    3. Submit your application with the quotation to the Business Grants Portal 

*For updates, check the “My Applications” section on the Business Grants Portal. If you pass, the government will send back an Offer Letter.

The Business Grants Portal will start off with a few questions to find out which grant is suitable for you, including:

Choose Your Sector.  Generically for tech startups, we can choose IT.

Business Grants Portal (First screen – Choose Your Sector)

Once you have chosen your sector, you are asked if you are interested in:

    1. Overseas/International Expansion; or
    2. Upgrading key business areas
Business Grants Portal (2nd screen - Choose Your Interest)

Business Grants Portal (2nd screen – Choose Your Interest)

IF you choose Overseas/International Expansion, you are brought to 2 possible grants:

    1. Market Readiness Assistance (MRA);
    2. Market Access & Development (EDG – Market Access)
Business Grants Portal (Screen 3A- Overseas/International Expansion)

Business Grants Portal (Screen 3A- Overseas/International Expansion)

IF you choose Upgrading Key Business Areas, you are brought to 3 possible grants:

    1. Pre-scoped Productivity Solutions (aka Productivity Solutions Grant – PSG);
    2. Core Capabilities (EDG – Core Capabilities)
    3. Innovation & Productivity (EDG – Innovation and Productivity)
Business Grants Portal (Screen 3B- Upgrading Key Business Areas)

Business Grants Portal (Screen 3B- Upgrading Key Business Areas)

While the signup is simple, the process varies depending on the correctness of your application – you may need to re-submit your application a few times, to clarify on questions or add more details.

 

Too complicated? Get help from the professionals at SME Centres

Let SME Centre help you on getting those government grants

Let SME Centre help you on getting those government grants

ESG has teamed up with five trade associations and chambers to set up a network of 5 main SME Centres and 6 satellite centres.

There are Business Advisors at the SME Centres to support startups in understanding the grants available, and their criteria. The Business Advisors have:

    • Experience consulting with SMEs across different industries from productivity, financing, human resource to overseas expansion
    • Insights on ways to improve your business capabilities through capability workshops
    • Ideas and support to link you up with solution providers to tackle the same trade or vicinity problems
    • Project facilitation in areas of technology adoption, process design, business matching and trade fairs participation

You can find the SME Centre network here

As Tech JDI provides Business Expansion Services to Vietnam, we have been successful in helping our clients to apply for the MRA and EDG – Market Access grants.

Moreover, Tech JDI also provides software development services for Automation, and Product Development and many of our clients have also successfully applied for EDG – Innovation and Productivity grants.

If you are interested in the Singapore grant programs, we are happy to share our grant application knowledge and experience directly with you – just email us at [email protected]