Singapore government funding & grants for entrepreneurs

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The Singapore government has been actively promoting their pro-business friendly policies in recent years by providing a range of grants, subsidies, and funding, that can help you grow your business, whether you are 100% local or 100% foreign.

 

In this article, we have gathered popular schemes you can tap on.

For companies that do not have at least 30% local shareholdings (i.e. Foreign-owned businesses that registered a Singapore entity). These are the schemes available: 

1) Startup SG Equity Programme

Agency: Enterprise Singapore

Type: Funding

 

As part of the Startup SG Equity scheme, the government will co-invest with independent, qualified 3rd party investors into eligible startups. This scheme aims to stimulate private-sector investments into innovative, Singapore-based technology startups with intellectual property and global market potential.

Investment parameters

This program offers a co-investment ratio of 7:3 (up to $250k). For up to $2 million, a ratio of 1:1 applies. These are the numbers for general tech investments.

 

For deep tech investments, there is a co-investment ratio of 7:3 (up to $500k) while the ratio of 1:1 applies for investments of up to $4 million.

Eligibility Criteria

Startups seeking government co-investment under Startup SG Equity should meet the following criteria:

  • Be a Singapore-based company with core operations carried out in this location
  • Be incorporated as a Private Limited company for less than five years
  • Have paid-up capital of at least $50,000
  • Be able to prove substantial innovative and intellectual content for its products and/or services and applications, such as Proof of Concept (POC)
  • Have high-growth potential with clear scalability for the international market
  • Have identified a ready, independent third-party investor(s)
  • Business must not be involved in gambling, tobacco-related products, or any other activities which are in violation of the law, or against the public interest
  • A company cannot be a subsidiary or joint-venture

 

The investor(s):

  • Must be able to contribute to the startup’s growth
  • Should possess the management experience, relevant business contacts and necessary technical expertise that can add value to startups
  • Should not hold shares in the investee before the co-investment (for new investments)
  • Must be prepared to invest at least S$50,000 into each startup

Click here for more details.

 

On top of that, you can expect a two-page executive summary and supporting documents to be submitted for a first-level assessment once you start applying. However, you can also email your documents to SEEDS Capital or SGInnovate. 

 

If you’d like to learn more about how to fund your startup, you can read our article on 6 main sources of funding for your startup in Singapore.

2) Career Trial Programme

Agency: Workforce Singapore (WSG)

Type: Subsidy

 

This program aims to offer your company, as an employer, a trial period to assess the job fit of a Singaporean jobseeker, considering factors such as the occupation, industry, and jobseeker’s profile.

 

As an employer, you may assess the jobseeker’s fit through a short-term work trial before offering employment to suitable Singapore Citizens. During the trial period, the salary of the jobseeker may be covered by the government.

 

The Career Trial Programme offers an additional avenue to hire Singapore citizens. But the program also assesses job seekers’ job fit before offering formal employment paying $1,500 (full-time employment) or $750 (part-time employment).

 

Salary Support for Employers

30% subsidy of monthly salary for up to 6 months, capped at $5,400 per hire and $2,700 per hire for part-time jobs, for employers who hire unemployed Singapore Citizens who have been actively looking for jobs for 6 months or more

Eligibility Criteria

  • All employers must be legally registered or incorporated in Singapore, with a Unique Entity Number (UEN) registered with ACRA
  • Actively hiring for jobs paying $1,500 (for full-time or $750 for a part-time position) or more
  • Offer employment to suitable jobseekers on permanent terms or on contract terms that are no less than one (1) year after completion of Career Trial

As a host employer, one has to provide a customized trial per Career Trial position. Trial duration for full-time positions is between 16 to up to 480 hours, and for part-time positions, the duration is between 16 to 240 hours (limited to 80 hours per month).

 

Additionally, a host employer has to offer employment paying $1,500 (for full-time or $750 for a part-time position) or more per month to suitable jobseekers on permanent terms or on contract terms that are no less than one (1) year after completion of Career Trial.

 

To submit an application to Workforce Singapore, click here.

3) Innovation, R&D and Capability Development Incentives

EDB Singapore offers several incentives and schemes to companies that wish to expand the scope of their business operations in Singapore.

 

Entrepreneurs are encouraged to upgrade their business’ capabilities using the incentives and schemes that are offered. This way, the whole economy of Singapore receives a boost that helps develop high-value and substantial economic activities.

 

Let’s take a look at the offered schemes and funds.

  • The Special Situation Fund for Startups (SSFS), administered by EDBI, aims to support early stage to late stage promising startups that can contribute to Singapore’s national priorities via a convertible note. Startups can check their eligibility criteria on EDBI’s website.
  • The Pioneer Certificate Incentive (PC) and the Development and Expansion Incentive (DEI) aim to stimulate companies to grow capabilities and conduct new or expanded economic activities in Singapore. Companies that carry out global or regional headquarters (HQ) operations of managing, coordinating, and controlling business operations for a group of companies may also apply for the PC or DEI for the HQ activities.
  • The Aircraft Leasing Scheme (ALS) is designed to encourage companies to develop aircraft leasing capabilities and grow the aircraft leasing industry in Singapore.
  • Finance & Treasury Centre (FTC) Incentive encourages companies to grow treasury management capabilities and use Singapore as a base for conducting strategic finance and treasury management operations. Companies qualify for a reduced corporate tax rate of 8%.
  • Intellectual Property (IP) Development Incentive encourages the use and commercialization of intellectual property (IP) rights arising from research & development operations. Eligible companies qualify for a reduced corporate tax rate of either 5% or 10%

 

To learn more, please refer to the EDB website here

 

For companies that have at least 30% local shareholdings (i.e., Singaporean/ Singapore PR), these are the schemes available:

4) Productivity & Solutions Grant (PSG)

Agency: Enterprise Singapore

Type: Subsidy

 

Companies that are keen to improve productivity by adopting pre-scoped technology solutions in areas of customer management, data analytics, financial management, and inventory tracking, can tap on a 70% subsidy.  

 

PSG also covers sector-specific solutions, including the retail, food, logistics, precision engineering, construction, and landscaping industries.

 

These have been pre-scoped by certain government agencies such as Enterprise Singapore, National Environmental Agency (NEA), and Singapore Tourism Board (STB).

 

Visit Tech Depot on SME Portal to access the list of supportable solutions and identify relevant solutions that best suit your business needs.

Eligibility Criteria

  • The business entity is registered/incorporated in Singapore
  • Purchase/lease/subscription of the IT solutions or equipment must be used in Singapore
  • Have a minimum of 30% local shareholding (for selected solutions only)

Application

First, visit GoBusiness Gov Assist to see the list of supportable solutions and identify relevant solutions that you need.

 

For IT solutions, you need to get a quotation from the pre-approved vendor. If you need equipment, you need a source and a quotation from the vendor.

 

Finally, submit an application on the Business Grants Portal (BGP). As a user, you need to register for a CorpPass account to transact on the portal.

 

For more information, click here.

5) Market Readiness Assistance (MRA) grant

Agency: Enterprise Singapore

Type: Subsidy

 

The MRA grant supports Singapore companies taking their business overseas for the first time. Get up to 70% of eligible 3rd party costs which covers steps such as overseas market set-up, identification of business partners, and overseas market promotion.

Eligibility Criteria

  • The business entity is registered/incorporated in Singapore
  • Group annual turnover not exceeding S$100million per annum, based on the most recent audited report, or group employment not exceeding 200 employees
  • At least 30% local shareholding

Find out more here.

6) P-Max Scheme

Agency: Workforce Singapore (WSG)

Type: Subsidy

 

P-Max will assist SMEs to better recruit, train, manage, and retain their newly-hired executives/professional staff. Companies will receive a one-time S$5,000 grant upon successful retention of their newly hired staff for at least 6 months upon completion of the workshops under the program as well as show evidence of in-house training.

 

To learn more about the program, refer here.

Eligibility Criteria

  • The business entity is registered/incorporated in Singapore
  • Annual Sales turnover of not more than S$100million, or employment size not exceeding 200 employees
  • Offer newly-hired staff a gross salary of at least S$2,500 per month
  • At least 30% local shareholding

7) Enterprise Development Grant (EDG)

Agency: Enterprise Singapore

Type: Subsidy

 

The Enterprise Development Grant is designed to help companies in Singapore build internal capabilities in 3 main areas with their corresponding sub-areas, with up to a 70% subsidy off the qualifying project costs.

 

Core Capabilities

 

These include Strategic Brand & Marketing Development, Business Strategy Development, Human Capital Development, Service Excellence, and Financial Management through 3rd party consultants.

 

Innovation and Productivity

 

These include Product Development, Process Redesign, and Automation projects.

 

Market Access

 

These include Pilot Project & Test Bedding, Overseas Marketing Presence, Mergers & Acquisitions, and Standards Adoption.

 

Eligibility Criteria

  • The business entity is registered/incorporated in Singapore
  • Be in a financially viable position to start and complete the project
  • At least 30% local shareholding

For more information, you can refer here.

Business Improvement Fund (BIF)

For Singapore-registered businesses in the tourism sector, the BIF is targeted at encouraging technology innovation and adoption, and the redesign of business models and processes with the aim to improve productivity and competitiveness. The BIF is offered by the Singapore Tourism Board.

 

Based on the size of your business, the level of support provided by the BIF will vary. Successful small-to-medium enterprise applicants (SMEs) will receive funding support of up to 70% of qualifying costs, which include:

 

  • Training costs
  • Hardware and software costs
  • Travel costs
  • Internal manpower costs
  • Third-party project-related costs

Successful non-SME applicants will receive funding support of up to 50% of qualifying costs.

The applying process is rather straightforward, with only two steps included.

  1. Before you apply, you have to send an executive summary of the proposed project to [email protected] to be advised if the proposed project is eligible for the BIF.
  2. Once the project is approved, you shall submit the application on the Business Grants Portal using the CorpPass account along with the project proposal and the relevant quotations for the qualifying costs.

The projects are then assessed in regards to how they can improve the productivity and competitiveness of tourism companies.

 

Learn more on the Singapore Tourism Board website.

9) VentureForGood (VFG) Grant

The VFG Grant is available to new and existing social enterprises who need funding either to start up or expand their operations.

 

It is provided by the Singapore Centre for Social Enterprise (raiSE) and supported by the Ministry of Social and Family Development. Interested applicants can apply for up to $300,000 in grants.

 

Here are the steps to apply for the VFG Grant:

  1. To apply, email your pitch deck to [email protected]
  2. Within three weeks, raiSE will arrange a 1-on-1 consultation with you to learn more about your application.
  3. You will be notified whether your application has been shortlisted within 3 weeks of the consultation.
  4. If your application has been shortlisted, you will be required to submit a detailed proposal with financial projections for the final evaluation. You will also have to undergo interviews and presentations. Your application will be assessed based on whether your social enterprise has a compelling social objective, a viable business proposition, and a committed team. This final evaluation can take between 3 and 4 months.
  5. If your application is approved, your company must be incorporated as well as registered as a raiSE member in order to receive the grant disbursement.

Your social enterprise should be addressing a local social gap/need in one or more of the provided outcome areas to be eligible.

 

Some of these areas include the provision of employment opportunities, or bridging a social gap in the areas of mental health, and caregiving. The full list of outcome areas can be found at the raiSE Singapore website along with the link to apply for the grant.

Types of debts funding in Singapore

  • Financing options: banks, private lenders, peer-to-peer (P2P) platforms
  • Short term: unsecured business term loan, SME micro loan/working capital loan
  • Mid term: invoice financing, purchase-order financing
  • Long term: equipment financing, project financing

Types of equity funding in Singapore

For seed or series A investments, you may refer here. This sets out most of the active VC investors in Singapore. Refer here for a map of the funding terms.

 

*Do note that information on government grants, Funding, and Financial schemes may be subject to changes from time to time. Please refer to the respective websites for the latest updates.

 

For a more customized complimentary 1-to-1 advisory session, you may contact the SME Centre here, where a business advisor would meet you to share with you the relevant schemes and Singapore startup grants that you may be eligible for.

 

These services are provided free of charge to all aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners in Singapore.

 

*Information accurate as of August 2020.

 

 

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