Singapore Business Grants You Need to Know

 

One of the trickiest obstacles to successful company incorporation in Singapore is access to necessary funding. Whether you’re talking about seed funding, or investment in technology or training, most of the significant leaps that you want to achieve have to come with financial resources, amongst many others.

Here is where knowledge is truly power. If you want to be an astute businessman or woman, you have got to know all the possible sources of funding, and in Singapore’s case, the government is one of the biggest supporters of businesses both large and small.

Read on, bookmark this page, and keep on coming back to it. These are some of the biggest and most useful grants that you need to keep in mind as you take your enterprise from a fledgling startup to a powerhouse.

For Startups

ACE Startup Grant , SPRING Singapore

Maximum amount: S$50,000

The ACE Startup Grant is one that every entrepreneurial Singaporean needs to know about. SPRING Singapore, the government agency that works to grow and develop Singaporean enterprises, matches S$7 to every S$3 raised by the entrepreneur, up to a cap of S$50,000.

SPRING does not take equity, and will even assign you with a mentor that guides you along your first year as a startup.

Grant applications are assessed on a competitive basis and are only available for Singaporean Citizens and PRs who are first-time entrepreneurs who hold a minimum of 51% equity in the company.

Your business idea also needs to be differentiated and cannot fall in to specific categories such as gambling, prostitution, employment agencies, cafes, or even beauty salons.

Business Angel Scheme, SPRING SINGAPORE

Maximum amount: S$2 million

The Business Angel Scheme allows startups that already have investment interest and commitment from business angel investors to apply for a matching grant amount from Spring Singapore. In other words, this is for startups that show a promising-enough idea at the get go.

Unlike the ACE grant, Spring and the business angel investors do take equity the company.

Part of the criteria is that the startup needs to have a paid up capital of at least S$50,000 and also be able to show a good level of innovative or intellectual content in the products or services that you are offering.

Sector Specific Accelerator Programme, Spring

The SSA Programme aims to nurture local businesses in nascent sectors that have few local enterprises, limited pool of experts, and an absence of early stage investors.

While there are not specific guidelines on the grant amount that you can expect, a total of S$70 million has actually been pledged under the program, which is quite a significant pool of money. At the moment, the program is looking to encourage startups in the medical technology sector. Five accelerators have been appointed thus far and in addition to co-investing, they will also work closely with startups to help get them up to scratch.

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VentureForGood and VentureForGood (Youth), Singapore Centre for Social Enterprises

Maximum amount: S$300,000 or S$20,000 (Youth)

Got an idea that’s for the betterment of society? Get to know raiSE, the Singapore Centre for Social Entrepreneurship. The VentureForGood fund is a grant of up to S300,00 for new or current social enterprises that address a social need. For example, your company provides employment opportunities, education, skill development, mental and healthcare or social care products and services.

The call for grants only happen twice a year, so do keep your eyes peeled on this one.

The Youth category is also available for youths aged 18-35 years with funding of up to $20,000. raiSE’s partners would also work on assessing and improving your proposal, so there’s more handholding and prepping help.

For both types of grants, you do need to be a member of raiSE.

Technology Enterprise Commercialization Scheme

Maximum Amount: S$500,000 (Proof of Value/ Commercialization stage) or S$250,000 (Proof of Concept/ conceptualization stage)

This is another grant by Spring Singapore, and is geared towards startups that are based on solid technology Intellectual Property and a scalable business model.

The scheme provides early-funding to help startups to commercialize their proprietary technology products and services. In order to qualify for the grant, you need to show how science and tech is applied in your business and that it’s a breakthrough level of innovation that could likely disrupt the market.

As it’s meant for startups and early-stage companies, your venture needs to have been registered for less than 5 years at the time of the award and your company’s group annual sales turnover must be less than S$100 million, with fewer than 200 workers.

Fast-Track Environmental and Water Technologies Incubator Scheme (Fast-Tech)

Maximum Amount: S$300,000

The Fast-Tech scheme by Environmental and Water Industry Development Council (EWI) offers funding for startups in the niche areas of environmental and water technology sector.

The funding amount is capped at S$300,000 or up to 85% support level, which is lower, and spread across two years. In addition to financial support, startups in these sectors will also be housed in water-technology incubators where one can expect mentorship and guidance in the early stages of business.

In this scheme, the participating incubator will be taking equity stake in the company.

Kickstart Fund, Singapore Tourism Board

Maximum Amount: S$ 150,000

Never heard of this grant? Well, now you have. This little-known fund by STB supports the development and testing of new and innovative lifestyle and event concepts that have a strong impact on tourism. Basically, ideas that will boost Singapore as a tourist destination. This could be in areas such as the arts, culture and entertainment, retail, sports, or F&B.

You can apply for funding support of up to 50% of qualifying costs, capped at S$150,000 per project. Costs that are eligible include outsourced services, equipment and materials, production, marketing and manpower costs.

Not only that, if qualified, you will also be assigned a mentor in the lifestyle and entertainment industry.

While the Kickstart Fund is geared towards events, STB also has another startup grant for entrepreneurs seeking to develop products and experiences, called the Tourism Product Development Fund.

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SMEs Looking to Grow

Innovation & Capability Voucher (ICV), Spring Singapore

Maximum Amount: S$40,000 in vouchers of S$5,000

Whether you’re a growing SME or a startup, you can apply for the Innovation and Capability Voucher by Spring Singapore. The voucher is valued at S$5,000 and is to be used for consultations to upgrade and strengthen your core business operations.

The areas that you can engage consultancy in are areas in innovation, productivity, human resources and financial management. In addition, you can also use the voucher for implementing integrated solutions that increase your business efficiency and productivity.

You can apply for a maximum of 8 vouchers and you need to complete the ICV project before applying for the next one. Also, the maximum duration of each project is six months.

In order to be eligible, the company’s group annual turnover must be less than S$100 million and employ fewer than 200 employees.

 Capability Development Grant (CDG), Spring Singapore

Maximum Amount: 70% of costs

The CDG grant is similar to the Innovation and Capability voucher, but covers a broader field of improvement needs. SMEs can receive up to 70% of costs for projects across 10 aspects of running a business, including employee training, business consultancy, skills certifications, and even equipment upgrade costs.

The requirements are similar to that of the ICV.

iSPRINTiMDA

Maximum Amount: S$20,000 or 70% of qualifying costs

The iSPRINT is a grant that supports SMEs in their use and technology to increase productivity in their business. There are packaged solutions that you can purchase off the shelf, and these can range from connectivity solutions like getting Fibre service to Customer Relationship Management and Enterprise Resource Management solutions.

There are also sector-specific solutions that can be reimbursed by up to 70% and SMEs pay an upfront cost of only 30% to vendors. An example of a sector-specific solution is Mobile Menu Ordering for the F&B industry.

iSPRINT lists out the approved vendors of these solutions. Only businesses with less than S$100 million group annual sales and fewer than 200 employees are eligible. Local shareholders also need to account for 30% of the company’s shares.

Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC), IRAS

Maximum Amount: S$600,000 in tax deduction/allowance

This isn’t a grant per se , but a form of tax incentive where companies can enjoy tax deductions or cash payouts for investments made in 6 areas, namely:

  • Acquisition and leasing of PIC IT automation equipment

  • Training of employees

  • Acquisition and licensing of intellectual property rights

  • Registration of patents, trademarks, designs and plant varieties

  • R&D

  • Investment in design projects

This scheme will last till year 2018, so do make full use of it if you already know the areas and project in which you want to invest in. Companies get to enjoy 400% tax deductions or allowances on up to $400,000 of spending per year in each of the six qualifying activities listed above.

Eligible businesses can also choose to convert the qualifying expenditure of up to S$100,000 for each Year of Assessment into cash at a conversion rate of 40%.

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Enhanced Training Support Scheme, WDA

Maximum Amount: 90% of course fees, cap at S$25-S$50/h depending on whether the employee is a PME

As your company grows and hires more staff, it is important to keep a capable team with relevant and current skills. This scheme allows SMEs to invest in staff training, with over 8,000 certified courses to choose, some of which are taught by polytechnics and ITEs. Under this scheme, SMEs can enjoy subsides of 90% of the course fees when they pay for their employees. In addition, companies get to claim an absentee payroll funding of 80% of the basic hourly salary capped at S$7.50 per hour.

Only businesses with less than S$100 million group annual sales and fewer than 200 employees are eligible. Local shareholders also need to account for 30% of the company’s shares.

Automation Support Package (ASP), Spring Singapore

For SMEs that are looking towards large-scale deployment of automation solutions to enhance existing operations, the ASP is your answer. This works like a package that consists of a grant as well as tax and loan incentives to cover the some of the costs of capital-intensive automation processes.

The solutions should be geared towards having a leaner manpower and significantly increased productivity. For example, this could be the mechanization of manual operations, redesigning of current workflows, or even the adoption of technology that is above and beyond the industry standard.

What is not covered is if you upgrade or replace your current set of equipment without being able to prove significant improvements in streamlining manpower or increasing productivity, or if the equipment that you intend to purchase is meant for new operations (e.g. new line or outlets)

The grant support covers up to 50% of qualifying costs capped at S$1 million. As part of the package, you can also enjoy a 100% investment allowance for automation equipment. The third part of the package gives you access to equipment loans under Spring’s Local Enterprise Finance Scheme, where the Government shares 70% of the risks with a participating financial institution. The maximum amount of loan is S$15 million with a repayment period of 8-10 years.

SMEs Looking to Expand Overseas

Market Readiness Assistance Grant (MRA), IE Singapore

Maximum Amount: S$20,000

Ready to take your SME abroad? The MRA Grant by IE Singapore will prep your company up for the big move. While Spring is the agency that focuses on developing startups and SMEs within the local context, IE Singapore works at bringing Singaporean companies beyond our shores.

The MRA Grant covers 70% of eligible cost for a wide range of activities that have got to do with overseas expansion. For example, market research for feasibility studies, market entry legal advice and documentation, matching of overseas business –partners, as well as marketing efforts. The cap on this grant is S$20,00 per company per fiscal year, and you can make a maximum of two applications per year (1 April-31 March).

To qualify, your SME needs to have its global HQ base in Singapore and have a company annual turnover of less than S$100 million per annum.

Global Company Partnership (GCP) Grant, IE Singapore

Another useful grant for SMEs looking to go abroad is the GCP grant, which helps to cover some costs that are incurred fro engaging a third-party professional to develop and implement strategies that strengthen your capabilities for international expansion.

Companies can receive up to 50% of the eligible third-party costs and SMEs in particular get up to 70% in funding till March 2018.

Some of the activities that are supported include branding and internationalization strategies, Intellectual Property Management, Franchising and Licensing, as well as Supply Chain Management and Digital Marketing Strategy.

To qualify as an SME for 70% funding support, the requirements are similar to that of the MRA grant.