As startups and small medium enterprises (SMEs) play a vital role in driving innovations and economic growth for Singapore, various authorities have been looking into different ways to support these entities and help them overcome obstacles in their growth.
In this instalment of the BCS Startup Series on funding schemes, we invited two speakers: Dr. Chuah Yon Jin Roger, Innovation Manager from the National Health Innovation Centre (NHIC) Singapore and Ms Deepa Suppiah, Business Advisor from the SME Centre @ Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI), to share their insights on the various funding initiatives and capability programmes that businesses can leverage to boost their growth and development.
Dr Chuah began by sharing that the NHIC supports healthcare innovators and expedite the translation of their technologies towards market-ready healthcare products through grant funding, mentorship opportunities and the fostering of meaningful partnerships between innovators and established industry players. The various strategic funding opportunities includes the Innovation to Develop (I2D), Innovation to Industry (I2I), Innovation to Startup (I2Start), and Singapore Therapeutics Development Review (STDR) grants. Besides offering financial support, the NHIC also provides various resources and supports which include regulatory and IP assessments, assessment of product risk and commercialization potential, effective marketing support, assessments of potential licensing valuations, and user experience studies. To date, the NHIC has facilitated more than 35 licenses and initiation of over 10 local start-ups.
Ms Suppiah representing the SME Centre @ SICCI proceeded to elaborate on the centre’s role in helping businesses soar to greater heights. The SME Centre @ SICCI is an initiative of Enterprise Singapore that seeks to provide SMEs with easy access to business advisory, capability workshops and group-based upgrading programmes to help them start, sustain and grow their businesses. The SME Centre not only provides these initiatives for the healthcare sector but also other sectors including, but not limited to education, maritime, infocomm & media, food tech, engineering and IT solutions. There are four main assistance schemes offered to Singapore registered companies namely Grants, Loans, Capability Toolkits and Tax Incentives. “It is important to bear in mind that to be eligible for the Grants and Loans offered by Enterprise Singapore, the company has to have at least 30% local shareholding” stressed Ms Suppiah. Early startups can leverage on many funding schemes such as the StartupSG Founder, StartupSG Tech, StartupSG Equity, StartupSG Accelerator and StartupSG Talent schemes. More mature SMEs, on the other hand, can apply for the Enterprise Development Grant (EDG) or the Market Readiness Assistance (MRA) scheme which support companies that aim to upgrade and venture overseas. These two grants also provide support for SMEs that seek to develop their core capabilities, which include business strategy development, financial management, human capital development, and strategic brand and marketing development. Finally, Ms Suppiah concluded by sharing about the Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG), a financial assistance scheme meant for companies to procure equipment, management systems and IT solutions, to improve the efficiency of their labour force.
Overall, this session was well-received. We gained positive feedback from our participants, many of which described this webinar to be an eye-opener to the various financial and non-financial assistance schemes available for startups to leverage on.
By Marianne Sheila on behalf of BCS