SINGAPORE: Internationalisation and innovation continue to be the focus for enterprise development agency SPRING Singapore as they look to support small- and medium-sized enterprises.
In its yearly review, SPRING said on Friday (Feb 26) that 20,800 enterprises embarked on 22,100 projects in 2015, more than twice the number of enterprises supported - 9,000 - in 2014. When fully implemented, these projects are expected to create 19,500 new jobs over two to three years and contribute about S$6.9 billion of value-add to the economy.
Close to 95 per cent of these SPRING-supported companies were enterprises with S$10 million or less in revenue.
On the innovation front, SPRING and its incubator partners supported more than 300 startups through its various schemes, up from 160 in 2014. In addition, close to 800 startups were assisted through SPRING's 21 incubators
Meanwhile, SPRING SEEDS Capital, the investment arm of SPRING, co-invested S$13 million in 17 early stage companies, catalysing S$36 million of private investment in 2015.
As part of continuing efforts to improve SMEs' access to assistance and resources, SPRING said companies using its Innovation and Capability Vouchers (ICV) rose more than twofold to 19,500 enterprises from 7,000 in 2014.
Meanwhile, the number of enterprises tapping SPRING's Capability Development Grant (CDG) rose 30 per cent to 1,300 in 2015 from 1,000 the previous year.
COMMITMENT TO HELP COMPANIES GROW
One company that has benefited from the support is packaging firm Fagerdala. With support from SPRING Singapore and Nanyang Polytechnic, it rolled out a robotics system that uses smart visual recognition.
This system has shortened production time and increased output by 600 per cent, as well as manpower savings as only one operator is needed instead of seven previously, it said.
"A strategic part of how we succeed in expanding overseas is in how we manage costs because packaging is highly competitive. And we see this robotic programme as giving us an edge in terms of growing into new markets when we set up new factories," said Mr Raymond Chee, Executive Director of Fagerdala Singapore.
"Even in existing factories we would like to roll the robots out to equip the existing teams with even more effective ways of packaging."
Amid the economic uncertainty, SPRING said it will continue to help companies grow their revenues.
Said Chief Executive Poon Hong Yuen: "We want to encourage companies to invest in automation, in robotics and other types of efficiency measures to cut down manpower and improve productivity.
"But another way to improve productivity is to increase the topline. We want to help companies to grow their topline through product development, brand development and internationalisation, so there's a two-pronged approach to productivity increase."