Singapore is a very attractive place for entrepreneurs to set up a business. Business-incubating infrastructure, tax incentives, cash grants, or financing schemes; everything that a new company desires, Singapore has it. The city-state’s business-friendly regime is mainly because of the abundance of grants and incentives available to various businesses. Historically, grants and incentives are usually rolled out or expanded with the annual national budget announcement.
In Singapore, start-ups and SMEs have predominantly stood out as the main beneficiaries since they are the driving force of various industries and they employ more than two-thirds of the Singaporean workforce. As such, the government has continued to support them through a number of grants to help them overcome various hindrances in their growth.
The following are the key Singapore government grants and incentives that start-ups, local companies, and partners can tap into based on qualifying criteria set by the government:
- For Start-ups
There are 6 Start-up SG schemes you can tap on:
Start-up SG Founder
New entrepreneurs can tap into Start-up SG Founder for funding support, mentorship and business networks. It provides mentorship and start-up capital grant to first-time entrepreneurs with innovative business ideas by matching $3 for every $1 raised by the entrepreneur. Accredited Mentor Partners (AMP) selects qualified applicants based on the:
- Uniqueness of business concept;
- Feasibility of business model;
- Potential market value, and
- Strength of management team.
Start-up SG Tech
Start-ups can look into Start-up SG Tech to seek early-stage funding to accelerate commercialisation of scalable in-house solutions. Depending on the developmental stage of your technology, this grant focuses on both Proof-of-Concept (POC) and Proof-of-Value (POV).
Start-up SG Equity
This grant provides equity co-investment alongside private investors in for general-tech start-ups (investment cap of $2 million) and deep-tech start-ups (investment cap of $2 million). This scheme aims to stimulate private-sector investments to become innovative, Singapore-based technology start-ups with intellectual property and global market potential.
Start-up SG Talent
Start-up SG Talent’s nurtures a conducive environment for promising global talent to establish innovative businesses in Singapore, and help start-ups attract good talent. The scheme has three avenues:
- Entrepreneur Pass (EntrePass);
- Technology for Enterprise Capability Upgrading (T-UP); and
- SME Talent Programme (STP) for Start-ups.
Start-up SG Accelerator
This scheme provides funding and non-financial support to accelerators and incubators working in strategic growth sectors. It’s not available to venture capitalists and consultancy firms.
Start-up SG Loan
Offered through participating financial institutions, these Government-backed loans provide start-ups with working capital, equipment/factory financing and trade financing. The major categories include:
- SME Micro Loans – up to SGD$100k working capital financing if your company has 10 or less employees; and
- SME Venture Loan – up to SGD$5m for high-growth companies if you want to expand your business.
- For Local Companies
To qualify for the following grants, your company needs to be registered and operating in Singapore, and the solutions that are purchased, leased or subscribed must be used within Singapore.
Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG)
Established in April 2018, this grant is for companies looking to kick-start their adoption of technology with pre-qualified IT solutions and equipment that enhances productivity. Your company can apply for the PSG for solutions in the areas of customer management, data analytics, financial management and inventory tracking. For selected solutions, your company needs to have 30% local shareholding.
PSG boosts the adoption of digital productivity solutions by funding up to 70% of the costs for qualifying activities under these sectors:
- Precision Engineering
Market Readiness Assistance (MRA) Grant
This grant is meant for SMEs looking to take their business overseas by supporting set-up of overseas markets, identification of overseas business partners, and overseas market promotion. Eligible SMEs will receive up to 70% of costs, capped at SGD$20K annually that covers maximum of two applications per fiscal year. Each grant application is limited to one activity, such as market entry, or participation in a trade fair.
The eligibility criteria include:
- The business entity is registered/incorporated in Singapore
- At least 30% local shareholding
- Group annual turnover not exceeding SGD$100 million, or group employment not exceeding 200 employees.
Enterprise Development Grant (EDG)
This grant is for companies seeking additional support while undertaking a deeper transformation in business upgrading, innovation and internationalisation. EDG supports Singapore businesses in three key areas, namely core functions and capability, innovation and productivity; and market and business development.
EDG funds up to 70% of qualifying project costs, namely third party consultancy fees, software and equipment, and internal manpower cost. To qualify, your business must:
- Be registered and operating in Singapore;
- Have a minimum of 30% local shareholding; and
- Be in a financially viable position to start and complete the project.
- For Partners
Local Enterprise and Association Development (LEAD) Programme
The LEAD programme grant is for Trade Associations & Chambers (TAC) looking to drive industry upgrading and internationalisation for SMEs. You can play a more proactive role in helping companies enhance their competitiveness and capture new growth opportunities.
LEAD supports development projects in the following areas: Technology & Infrastructure; Industry Expertise; Intelligence & Research; and Internal Competencies. It supports up to 70% of eligible costs for qualifying projects, which include:
- Business development costs: participation or organisation of industry conferences
- Manpower-related costs: project members’ salaries and economy airfare
- Intellectual property costs: licensing, royalties and technology acquisition costs
- Professional services: consultancy and sub-contracting
- Equipment and materials: industrial equipment, materials and consumables, hardware and technical software required for the project
If your company is keen on leading cooperative projects to build capabilities, innovate, and pursue global prospects, PACT is for you. Your company can be a Lead Enterprise, which leads PACT collaborations by driving projects that benefit all collaborating parties. Support for SMEs is capped at 70% and non-SMEs at 50% of the qualifying costs.
Projects may be related to capability development, such as:
- Supplier/Partner Development: Helps existing/new suppliers upgrade their technological capabilities to improve the quality of their supply chain.
- Co-innovation: Helps to co-develop and test innovative products from smaller suppliers.
- Knowledge Transfer: Develops a coaching programme to help smaller distributors improve their cash flow management skills.
Projects may also be related to joint business development, such as:
- Alliances or Consortiums: Forming an alliance with smaller firms to jointly pursue new international projects, while pursuing new customers/contracts.
- Shared Resources: Pooling common resources with smaller firms to achieve economies of scale and shared marketing efforts.