It comes as no surprise, that Digital Innovation is yet again, the hot topic of 2018. Most businesses are now aware that they must look towards incorporating digital technology in their operations or building digital infrastructures, in order to thrive in today’s economy.
Despite the growing trend towards purchasing digital tools as a service in recent years, the barriers to Digitalization remain relatively high. ‘Going Digital’ in itself, is expensive and requires SMEs to actively plan for the business as a whole in a longer-term time horizon. With the lack of necessary resources and access to financing options, particularly in light of the expiration of PIC (Productivity and Innovation Scheme), many local SMEs aren’t quite so motivated towards investing in innovative projects, improving their productivity, financing their growth, covering working capital requirements and meeting market demand.
Much emphasis has also been made for businesses to internationalize and expand their footprint beyond Singapore. However, a recent study conducted this year by global insurer, QBE, has shown that a significant majority of local SMEs aren’t quite ready to do so just yet, citing “sufficient financing and familiarity with other markets” as their biggest concern.
With that, we have compiled a short list of grants and schemes that is currently offered for SMEs to kick start their journey in building up their business capabilities and possibly scale up through internationalization:
*Update: The CDG has merged with the Global Capabilities Partnership (GCP) to form the Enterprise Development Grant (EDG).*
In a Nutshell:
Incepted in 2015, the Capabilities Development Grant (CDG) is a financial assistance programme that is designed to assist SMEs to grow and enhance their business in 10 key areas:
- Brand and marketing strategy development;
- Financial management;
- Technology innovation;
- Business excellence;
- Business strategy development;
- Enhancing quality and standards;
- Human capital development;
- Intellectual property and franchising;
- Productivity improvement;
- Service excellence.
The CDG grant funds up to 70% of the qualitative project costs.
To apply for the CDG, businesses will first have to access the Business Grants Portal. Projects that ask for grant support of S$30,000 or less, will not require businesses to compose lengthy project proposals but rather, simply fill in the online application questionnaire. A CDG Application will have a turnaround time of 4 to 6 weeks.
In lieu of the announcement made during the Budget pertaining to the EDG, which stands to be effective only in Q4 2018 (*update: as of 24th October 2018), more details will be released during the second half of the year. In the meantime, businesses can continue to apply for the CDG this year.
2. Market Readiness Assistance (MRA) Grant
In a Nutshell:
The Market Readiness Assistance (MRA) grant, offered by IE Singapore, supports Singaporean SMEs who have plans to take their business overseas for the first time, and require financial assistance to assess the market before jumping straight in.
The MRA grant funds up to 70% of the qualitative project costs, capped at $20,000 per fiscal year which follows the period of 1 April 20xx to 31 March the next year. Businesses must take note as well that they will only be allowed only two MRA grant applications per fiscal year, and each application has to pertain to different specific areas. Applications submitted after 10 March, will be considered as part of the next fiscal year.
Key areas that are supported by the MRA include:
- Market Entry;
- Business Matching;
- Overseas Marketing and PR Activities;
- Participation in Overseas Trade fairs that are not supported under the International Marketing Activities Programme (iMAP). To check if the Overseas Trade Fairs are supported by iMAP, click here.
*Take note that “Overseas Marketing and PR Activities” does not include Online Marketing activities anymore.*
To apply for the MRA, businesses will first have to access the Business Grants Portal and fill in the required details of each project to do so. A MRA Application will have a turnaround time of approximately 1.5 months.
More details on the MRA grant, with regard to whether it will be extended or enhanced, will be released during MTI’s Committee of Supply (COS) in March 2018.
*Update: The GCP has merged with the Capabilities Development Grant (CDG) to form the Enterprise Development Grant (EDG).*
In a Nutshell:
The Global Company Partnership (GCP) grant, offered by IE Singapore, supports Singaporean SMEs who have plans to further their business growth through expansion overseas. The key difference between the MRA and GCP grants, is that the GCP applies to businesses who already have business operations overseas as well. Key areas that are supported by the GCP include:
- Capability Building;
- Enhancing market presence in all markets;
- Entry into New Markets;
- Developing International HR strategies;
- Talent Recruitment;
- Overseas market attachments for employees who are Singaporean/PR.
To apply for the GCP, businesses will first have to access the Business Grants Portal and fill in the required details of each project to do so. A GCP Application will have a turnaround time of approximately 2-3 months.
In lieu of the announcement made during the Budget pertaining to the EDG, which stands to be effective only in Q4 2018 (*update: as of 24th October 2018), more details will be released during the second half of the year. In the meantime, businesses can continue to apply for the GCP this year.
In a Nutshell:
The SME ‘Go Digital’ Program by IMDA, that was announced in last year’s Budget, is aimed at keeping SMEs up to speed with the pace of technological change in the digital economy.
Through the Industry Digital Plans, starting with the sectors where digital technology can significantly improve productivity, such as Retail, Food Services, Wholesale Trade, Logistics, Cleaning and Security, SMEs will be provided advice by the respective SME Centres on the appropriate technologies to use as they grow and expand.
With the recent announcement made of integrating the SME ‘Go Digital’ Program as part of the Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG), businesses can apply for funding of pre-approved solutions through the Business Grants Portal, effective as of 1st April this year.
To find out more about the pre-approved solutions that currently exist in the market, you may refer to the Tech Depot, that’s found through the SME Portal website.
Alternatively, SMEs who are interested in purchasing pre-approved digital solutions in the SME ‘Go Digital’ Program before 1st April 2018 can reach out to the respective SME Centres first before actual purchase of the digital solution.
5. Enterprise Development Grant (EDG) *new*
In a Nutshell:
For businesses who require a more holistic and customized support for innovation and internationalization, the Government will offer a new Enterprise Development Grant (EDG) from the merger of two existing grants, CDG and GCP, run by Spring Singapore and International Enterprise (IE) Singapore respectively. It will be run by Enterprise Singapore, the new agency emerging from the marriage of Spring and IE Singapore.
The EDG will provide up to 70% of co-funding for companies to build a range of deeper capabilities and scale up.
The application process for the EDG is similar to that of other grants listed here. To apply for the EDG, businesses will first have to access the Business Grants Portal and fill in the required details of each project to do so.
In lieu of the announcement made during the Budget pertaining to the EDG, it stands to be effective only in Q4 2018 (*update: as of 24th October 2018).
In a Nutshell:
Announced in the Budget this year, the Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG), as the name suggests, aims to be the one-stop grant for businesses to access a wider range of productivity solutions for purpose of business upgrading, as part of the government’s aim to streamline existing productivity schemes by different agencies. SMEs can expect to receive up to 70% funding for relevant activities.
As the PSG stands to be effective only as of 1st April this year, more details will be released during MTI’s Committee of Supply (COS) in March 2018. To apply for the PSG, businesses will have to access the Business Grants Portal to do so.
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