SINGAPORE: The Government will set aside S$8.3 billion between 2020 and 2022 to help companies scale up by strengthening business ties and improving their capabilities, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat in his 2020 Budget speech on Tuesday (Feb 18).
Some of the schemes that will fall under this “Transformation and Growth” strategy include the Executive-in-Residence (EIR) programme.
Enterprise Singapore will run this two-year pilot programme, which will fund more than 10 trade associations and chambers covering all sectors of the economy to hire experienced executives that will provide advice to enterprises.
The agency will defray up to 70 per cent of the association or chamber’s cost of engaging the expert.
Enterprise Singapore will also launch a Heartland Enterprise Upgrading Programme (HEUP) to support the merchants’ association’s role in rejuvenating their neighbourhood’s commercial precincts.
The HEUP will support selected merchants’ associations in developing and implementing four-year precinct rejuvenation plans that range from improving infrastructure to training businesses and workers. Businesses in the heartlands will also be guided as they digitalise and transform their brands.
“Within each industry, we need to strengthen partnerships to deepen industry-wide capabilities,” said Mr Heng. ”Even as our enterprises compete to differentiate themselves, they must come together to solve common challenges.”
HELPING STARTUPS, COMPANIES GROW
To increase the amount of funding going into deep-tech startups – those in emerging technology areas such as medtech, advanced manufacturing and agri-food – an additional S$300 million will be set aside under the Startup SG Equity.
Deep-tech startups tend to need larger investments, longer gestation period, while facing higher risk. This makes them less attractive to private investors, even though they have a “high potential to be competitive and stimulate innovation in their sectors”, said Mr Heng.
Under the Startup SG Equity scheme, the Government either co-invests with qualified third-party investors into startups, or invests in funds through fund-of-funds approach.
“We expect to draw in more than $800 million of private funding over the next 10 years. This will give deep-tech startups better access to capital, expertise and industry networks,” Mr Heng said, who noted Singapore’s “vibrant” startup ecosystem with about 3,800 technology startups in the country and around 150 venture capital funds investing in startups here and in the region.
Aside from startups, enterprises will also be assisted in identifying their business needs, adopting digital technologies and entering new markets.
The Government will launch the GoBusiness platform, a portal that streamlines transactions between companies and the government.
The SMEs Go Digital programme, first announced at the 2017 Budget to help small and medium enterprises build up their digital capabilities, will be expanded to include the 23 sectors covered by the Industry Transformation Maps, up from the current 10 sectors. Some of the new sectors are healthcare, food manufacturing, adult and early childhood education.
To help businesses enter new markets, the Market Readiness Assistance grant, first introduced in 2013, will be enhanced by expanding funding support and coverage.
Eligible activities will now include free trade agreement consultancy services, while the grant cap will be raised from S$20,000 per year to S$100,000 per new market per company.
A new leadership programme called the Enterprise Leadership for Transformation Programme will be launched by Enterprise Singapore as well. It will offer training to business leaders from SMEs to help them “to achieve the next bound of growth”, said Mr Heng.
The three-year pilot programme aims to train and mentor business leaders from 900 enterprises over the next three years, with help from Institutes of Higher Learning, banks and industry players.
“Our enterprises must be the incubators of innovation, the crucibles for skills upgrading, and the creators of good jobs for our people,” Mr Heng said.