SINGAPORE: A budget of around S$20 million will be set aside under the Startup SG initiative announced earlier this month, to support first-time entrepreneurs.
This was announced by Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon on Wednesday (Mar 22) at an event marking the opening of three new blocks at JTC LaunchPad @ one-north.
Under the Startup Founder scheme, first-time entrepreneurs can tap on a start-up capital grant and mentorship support.
Successful applicants will be teamed with mentors under a new Accredited Mentor Partners (AMPs) approach.
"These AMPs will include incubators and accelerators which will provide advice, networking and learning opportunities for the first-time entrepreneurs," Dr Koh said. "These will also help entrepreneurs obtain pre-seed funding."
SPRING Singapore - an agency under the Ministry of Trade and Industry - will be launching its call for collaborators to come on board as AMPs starting Wednesday (Mar 22).
Dr Koh also announced that about S$200 million would be allocated under the Startup SG Equity scheme, in which the Government will co-invest in deep-technology start-ups such as those dealing with medical and clean technology.
MAKING FUNDS ACCESSIBLE
One such business that stands to benefit from Startup SG is financial technology solutions start-up Tripledot Technologies, which will be moving into one of the new blocks at JTC LaunchPad next month.
“I think definitely it’s a great initiative by the Government to promote entrepreneurship and anyone who has intentions or dreams of owning their own business,” said its founder Chew Ken Wee. “And housing it under one initiative certainly makes it easier for us to find out about what’s available in terms of resources and support.”
However, Mr Chew said that he hoped the new funds would be made more accessible to start-ups.
“The key concern for us is time, and time is the biggest opportunity cost,” said Mr Chew. “And if we could save the time from searching different ministries and agencies, and instead go to Startup SG for this kind of guidance, it’s definitely invaluable.”
Addressing this, Dr Koh said that the Government has sought to simplify the process of applying for funding.
“Previously I think because (the schemes) were called by different names, administered by different agencies, so that creates a certain degree of confusion among start-up entrepreneurs as well,” Dr Koh said.
“While we want to speed up process, start-ups being of a slightly more high-risk nature in terms of how they go about their business model, agencies also need to assess their business proposition models,” he said.
“This is where our Startup Founder Scheme will bring in accredited mentor partners to help in the whole process as well to curate and guide them along. I think that, in some ways, if the system runs well, (it) will help us to reduce the assessment time frame,” Dr Koh added.
STRIKING A “GOOD BALANCE” FOR FUNDING
However, Dr Koh also warned that a “good balance” needs to be struck when it comes to giving handouts to start-ups.
“While Government can provide funding, we have to be careful that we do not actually cripple the ability of start-ups to fight for funding, by being too overly generous with funding that cripples their desire to aspire to be better,” he said.
“So therein lies the difficult balance we have to strike, and I think by having more smart money, venture capitalists coming in, they should gradually take over the space from the Government and be the ones who curate the kind of start-ups that deserve funding,” said Dr Koh. “I think it’s an evolving scene and as we mature more, the right balance will be achieved.”
STARTUP SG LOGO
During the event, Dr Koh also unveiled the logo for Startup SG, the umbrella branding for the Government's start-up support schemes.
"The colours red and white were chosen for the logo because they are our national colours," Dr Koh said.
"The geographic pin with the letters 'SG' in the middle signifies our aspiration for Singapore to become a destination in which start-ups will anchor themselves, while the inclusion of the 'arrow' is emblematic of upward drive."
The Startup SG Founder scheme will replace the existing ACE Startups Grant and iJam Tier 1 grant for first-time entrepreneurs and interactive digital media start-ups respectively.
The changes to the Startup SG Founder and Startup SG Equity schemes, which come under Sartup SG, will take effect starting May 1 this year.