All You Need to Know About Enterprise Singapore Grants (ESG)

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Enterprise Singapore is at the centre of driving Singapore’s unique position in the global economy. The start-up support offered by government agencies plays a crucial role in ensuring that small and established businesses can weather the pressures of an evolving enterprise landscape.

Singaporean government agencies, Enterprise Singapore included, adopt a business-centric approach when dealing with SMEs. The objective of these entities is to help businesses at different levels of growth in various sectors to find government support as they strive to grow and expand beyond borders.

Whether these agencies offer support in the form of grants or non-financial assistance, they help businesses to override resource constraints and build management strengths. With such support and incentives, Singaporean companies can expand into global markets competitively.

What is Enterprise Singapore?

Enterprise Singapore is a Singaporean government agency that advocates for enterprise development. It collaborates with aspiring businesses to build capabilities, innovation and global expansion.

The agency promotes the growth of Singapore as a global trading hub for start-ups and multinationals.

Enterprise Singapore is an amalgamation of two agencies, namely SPRING Singapore and International Enterprise Singapore in 2018. Since then, ESG, as it’s popularly known, has focused on providing a one-stop-shop solution where SMEs can turn for help.

At ESG, businesses enjoy a unified flow of information and restructured access to grants and diverse support solutions. As the accredited standards body in the country, the agency emphasises on high products and services standards to build trust in Singapore’s products and services in the global market.

Enterprise Singapore-An Overview

Enterprise Singapore is the incorporation of the functions of IE Singapore SPRING. Previously, the now-defunct agencies focused on helping local companies to internationalise and build SME capacities.

After the merger, the new entity-ESG, assumed the responsibility of helping Singaporean enterprises to adopt new technology as global interest in Asia continued to attract international players.

Structural Optimisation for SMEs

The formation of Enterprise Singapore brought forth substantial structural optimisation to the Singaporean economy from different perspectives. Currently, Singapore sits right at the centre of a global economic renaissance. Without the input of enterprise Singapore, SMEs and start-ups risk missing out on opportunities given the intense competition.

In such a competitive environment, Singaporean businesses need to move with agility to integrate innovation and internationalisation. The formation of Enterprise Singapore factored this aspect. Today, ESG continues to partner with SMEs, start-ups and high-level industries to realise sustainable growth.

Developing Resilient and Competitive Industries

Enterprise Singapore helps businesses to conquer a disrupted enterprise landscape. It provides support programmes and incentives that align with the needs and growth levels of different companies. Support is available for different companies aiming to break into various global markets.

ESG has a well-meshed network of local and international partners. The idea is to boost efforts that augment enterprise competitiveness via the Industry Transformation Maps. The focus is geared towards:

  • Seizing new market opportunities through upgrading and innovation
  • Improving productivity by adopting new technologies
  • Facilitating expansion into overseas markets
  • Strengthening leadership competencies to build a talent pool.
  • Leveraging quality and standards to build trust in local products and services

ESG Objective Outlook towards SME Growth

When mulling the formation of the agency, enterprise development experts pinpointed the core agency’s strategies to assume a business-centric approach. The outline priorities focused on working with committed businesses, restructuring assistance to achieve efficiency and to collaborate with other companies for a more significant impact.

Taking an Enterprise-centric Approach

Globally, there’s an increased bias towards the Asian region. Innovation and an ageing population trend have disrupted the conventional way of doing business. Enterprise Singapore chips in to assist struggling and established ventures to grow and attain the competitive edge on the global front.

Enterprise Singapore is committed to buffering its global networks and capacity to support the internationalisation of its operations. The agency has channelled resources to help SMEs to find footing in global markets. It facilitates the uptake of technology solutions that enable businesses to compete in developed markets.

Streamlining Assistance to Be More Effective

Since its inception, Enterprise Singapore has maintained its status as a single interaction portal for businesses yearning to grow. For instance, ESG has viable solutions such as the Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG). It offers businesses ready-to-adopt IT solutions to enhance productivity. Also, the EDG package enables aspiring companies to succeed through transformation and innovation. Leveraging Partnerships for Greater Reach

To increase the agency’s support ecosystem and reach, ESG partners with Trade Associations and Chambers (TACs) and businesses. The objective is to drive collaboration between SMEs and MNCs or MNCs and government agencies.

Singapore Products and Service Standards

ESG is the national standards and accreditation body. It’s charged with ensuring that the country’s Quality and Excellence ecosystem continues to thrive. Through quality and standards, the agency acts as oversight to ensure the safety and integrity of consumer goods in Singapore.

How Enterprise Singapore Objectives

Enterprise Singapore prioritises its support on businesses that demonstrate the knack to grow. Without a clear change strategy, even the most successful Singaporean companies are bound to fail. Additionally, the lack of a competitive network of partners and support agents can leave a business stuck in a development rut. What ESG does is to encourage partnerships with a unique value proposition that captures global markets efficiently.

Enterprise Singapore Responsibilities at a Glance

Since ESG works with businesses at different levels, it’s charged with assessing business-specific needs of each company.

  • It formulates a streamlined and comprehensive suite of incentives to assist busses at different levels/segments
  • It emphasises efforts in helping companies to upgrade, improve productivity transform, innovate and go global
  • ESG partners with public and private stakeholders-local and international, to provide industry and market-specific assistance

All these efforts are aimed at helping committed Singaporean SMEs to leverage support incentives to increase their competitive capacity in various markets.

How Enterprise Singapore Drives Productivity, Innovation and Internationalisation

To boost the competitive capacity of businesses and SMEs in Singapore, ESG reviews its strategies on an ongoing basis. Adopting new strategies assists the agency in driving its enterprise development status to greater heights locally and internationally.

ESG focus is primarily on building more profound capacities in the productivity, innovation and globalization context. It strives to create a meaningful impact on three levels. They include:

Nurturing Productivity

The idea is to assist thousands of SMEs in driving up productivity. This is possible with the adoption of new technology, digitisation and process automation. ESG facilitates staff training and workforce upskilling to stay abreast with emerging technology.

Strengthening Innovation

This involves equipping businesses with new technology solutions to help them incubate their intellectual property. ESG enables companies to speed up the commercialisation of technology, process redesign and adoption of market-led innovations. Here, businesses develop technology solutions based on existing bottlenecks and available opportunities.

Fast-Tracking Globalization

ESG strives to help hundreds of SMEs to make a global debut. Also, it assists companies who have internationalised to reinforce their global footprints. This enables a business to expand to a broader market while avoiding the constraints of a limited domestic market.

Four Enterprises Support Strategies That ESG Employs

In the course of bolstering enterprise support, enterprise Singapore relies on four key strategies. They include:

Building Enterprise Capabilities

ESG is committed to the proliferation and adoption of new technologies by SMEs en-masse. The agency partners with other government outfits- IMDA, commercial banks and telecommunication companies. This helps to elevate the core digital capabilities of fledgeling SMEs in different fields.

Today, ESG, in collaboration with Start Digital, helps businesses to lead in the digital marketing, accounting and human resource areas, among others. Productivity Solutions Grant, Market Readiness Assistance Grant, and Enterprise Development Grant are useful tools in this regard.

Developing Human Capital

Leadership development, talent management, and succession determine the success of a business. Enterprise Singapore enables SMEs to strengthen their leadership pool, brood a talent cluster through internships and manage associate programmes through programmes such as the Global Ready Talent plan.

Improving Enterprise Ecosystems

Singapore enterprises need a robust support ecosystem to achieve their objectives. The country offers conducive compliance and regulatory environment.

With the entry of ESG, SMEs can now thrive and grow in different verticals. This is possible through the:

  • Inter-enterprise dimension–ESG fosters the partnership between multinationals, start-ups, SMEs and high-level companies.
  • Industry-level- ESG works in tandem with lead agencies and TACs to drive business-specific upgrading and transformation.
  • Cross-industry dimension- it drives intensive collaborations between businesses from different fields
  • Innovation dimension- ESG strives to expand venture partner networks, Centres of Innovation and innovation intermediaries.

Establishing Strong Networks and Partnerships

ESG continues to bolster its partnership network; local and overseas by enjoining domestic and foreign SME centres.

Boosting strategic partnerships with TACs to assist more upcoming businesses.

Intensifying in-market partnerships through Global Innovation Alliance to solidify global market entry.

How Enterprise Singapore Assists Start-Ups

Enterprise Singapore collaborates with key associates-incubators, accelerators and angel investors to create a resilient start-up ecosystem in Singapore. This encompasses SMEs in fields such as biomedical, Fintech or ICT.

To empower SMEs, the agency works with the EDB to help local businesses to plug into innovation networks that help them to go global. ESG assists international start-ups in plugging into the country’s ecosystem and leverage Singapore as a launching base into the global economic scene.

How Enterprise Singapore Helps Micro Enterprises and New Upgraders

Singaporean SMEs and businesses that are upgrading for the first time enjoy immense support from enterprise Singapore. The agency focuses on three areas. They include:

Convenient access to advice, data and assisted help on the SME Portal

ESG avails business advisors in 12 SME centres that operate under TACs. Simply, a business owner can get quick response vial phone or a visit to a local centre.

Streamlined and user-friendly assistance programmes

A large number of SMEs have leveraged the potential of PIC, ICV and iSPRINT. ESG introduced the Productivity Solutions Grant with user ready IT solutions. There are business-critical resources to exploit here, including SMEs Go Digital programme and the Market Readiness Assistance (MRA) Grant.

Plug and Play Networks

To leverage markets in the ASEAN region, businesses can take advantage of the plug and play network. This arrangement offers small businesses the chance to interact with top advisors, market partners and office space to enable a quick set up.

How Enterprise Singapore Assists SMEs

A large number of Singaporean small and medium enterprises have upgraded and launched on the global front. Some leverage ESG facilities to stay relevant. However, the agency keeps supporting these ventures to build deeper capabilities and polish their innovative capacity.

ESG helps SMEs to transform through human capital development, centres of innovation resources, productivity centres, input and leadership development modules.

The agency provides support through the cross-section of plug and play and overseas centre networks. Also, the amalgamated EDG grant supports businesses to transform and go global. The grant is customizable, and it reduces the implementation burden for SMEs.

Encourages a lean business environment

To boost competitive advantage, ESG empowers SMEs to leverage programmes offered by the Ministry of Manpower, Workforce Singapore and SkillsFuture Singapore. With support, SMEs become competitive in a lean business environment.

In addition, ESG enables small businesses to leverage the streamlined PACT programme. This drives reciprocating collaborations between companies. Partnerships here can include process redesign, capability and product development. It can consist of a joint venture into an international market.

Enterprise Singapore Industry-Specific Assistance for SMEs

Enterprise Singapore provides industry-specific incentives and support for SMEs. It enables them to leverage sector capabilities and upgrading incentives offered by leading agencies under the umbrella of the Industry Transformation Maps.

  • ESG partners with Trade Associations and Chambers (TACs) via the LEAD programme to enable TACS to
  • Improve and implement impactful programmes concurrent with Industry Transformation Maps.
  • Assist more SMEs in globalising- it involves reaching out to more SMEs and encouraging them to go global.
  • Recruit industries that haven’t been covered by the Industry Transformation Maps.

ESG has partnered with TACs including:

  • Singapore Crane Association
  • Singapore Business Federation
  • Federation of Merchant Associations
  • Singapore Timber Association,
  • Singapore Motor Workshop Association

ESG Industry-Specific Assistance for Large Enterprises

Enterprise Singapore remains committed to helping established Singaporean to broaden its international presence. This entails connecting them with overseas contacts and networks. Also, ESG helps these ventures to secure new opportunities and global projects.

At the same time, ESG strives to exploit the PACT program partnering with the Economic Development Board (EDB) to foster collaboration between Singaporean multinationals and upcoming SMEs. The idea is to encourage MNCs to help small businesses in their internationalisation journey efforts.

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Established Companies can exploit ESG’s network in 35 global locations. Also, the agency runs nine plug and play centres in 6 countries, Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce, 4 Global Innovation Alliance hubs and numerous bilateral business mediums. There are several collaboration platforms to leverage and a broad network of international associates.

To supplement the above, ESG presents Singapore’s network of 22 Free Trade Agreement and Economic Partnership Agreements in collaboration with 33 trade partners. The agency partners with the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), to reinforce Singapore’s position as an Infrastructure projects hub regionally and globally.

New and Streamlined Assistance Programmes under ESG

Upon launch, ESG streamlines three assistance programs and restructured their application requirements. They include:

Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG)

PSG incorporates support from three schemes, namely Info-communications Media Development Authority’s SME Go Digital Programme, Innovation and Capability Voucher (ICV) and National Parks Board’s Landscape Productivity Grant (LPG). The purpose of the PSG facility is to provide ready IT solutions that are prequalified and aligned to specific industry needs. It supports businesses with a 70% funding package.

Enterprise Development Grant (EDG)

The EDG grant incorporates two previous programmes, namely Global Company Partnership (GCP) from IE Singapore and SPRING’s Capability Development Grant (CDG. The purpose of the EDG is to assist businesses to grow and internationalise. It comes with a 70% funding package.

LEAD Programme

This programme incorporates SPRING, IE Singapore and STB facilities to empower TACs in driving industry upgrades, internal competencies and internationalisation. It touches on-location management to help improve physical space, transportation, public hygiene and maintenance.

PACT Programme

This programme amalgamates SPRING, IE Singapore and EDB facilities. Its primary purpose is to build collaborations between differently sized companies, locally and overseas. It fosters development needs including training, co-innovation and collaboration on overseas projects.

The Role of SME Centres in Singapore

From an Enterprise Singapore viewpoint, SME Centres are the go-to solution for Singaporean SMEs looking to grow, scale-up and collaborate.

Since ESG’s launch in 2018, SME centres have transitioned into fully-fledged resource centres. In an SME centre, SMEs get assistance regarding their globalization plans. They can get help pertaining to their HR capabilities, not to mention they can access the Workforce Development Agency and Infocomm Development Authority insights through a single interface.

SME centres have been around since 2013. They specialise in offering one-to-one business diagnosis, capacity building workshops, SME advisory services and upgrading projects.

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SME centres under the guidance of enterprise Singapore have helped hundreds of SMEs. In 2018 alone, SME centres assisted over 30000 businesses, with 94% of these falling under the SME and micro business bracket. Many of these businesses record an annual turnover of S$1 million.

Solving Problems through Group-Based Upgrading Initiative

SME centres solve problems using the group based upgrading concept. This initiative was introduced by enterprise Singapore to summarize common SMEs challenges. It seeks to solve capability shortfalls of SMEs in the same field or locality. Businesses in the same vicinity can exploit group based forums to craft solutions that address their problems collectively. SME centres help small business in pooling resources and strategies to tackle impending sector challenges.

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In recent years, SME Centres have initiated close to 30 group-based upgrading projects. Consequently, the initiative has helped over 400 SMEs to boost sales, customer care and revenue. 85% of the businesses yearned for tech adoption through digitisation to enhance productivity and innovation functions.

Focus On Digital Solutions

Over 85% of the SMEs involved in the projects focused on technology adoption, such as through digital solutions, to strengthen their capabilities in innovation and productivity. The success of group-based upgrading projects has encouraged SME centres to initiate similar projects with a projected activation of 300 SMEs annually.

Moving forward, SME centres continue to be at the centre of digitisation and internationalisation. There is an increased need for these centres to build their capabilities in business diagnosis and provision of capability workshops for local SMEs.

At the same time, SME centres remain committed to supporting businesses that want to make their first steps towards globalization. These resource centres cover different markets regionally. Capacity workshops organised for SMEs touch on aspects such as global market trends, capturing opportunities, entry strategies and international market practices. They also incorporate sessions on business matching, tech adoption, process redesign and trade fairs.

Enterprise Singapore Responsibilities

Enterprise Singapore strives to avail human capital and robust leadership capabilities. These are critical contributors to the growth and transformation of Singaporean SMEs. The agency works hand in hand with key players to incubate a competent talent stream. Also, ESG seeks to groom industry leaders through special programs for inters, mid-level professionals and top industry leaders.

To Drive the Internationalisation Plan

In the course of deepening global networks for Singaporean SMEs, ESG taps into the potential of TACs to drive the internationalisation plan backed by the International Marketing Activities Programme (iMAP). Concurrently, ESG manages the ASEAN leadership programme to incubate a pool of experts to conquer regional markets.

Consolidating the Financial Environment

One crucial responsibility of the ESG is to supplement the financial needs of Singaporean SMEs. This is done through the provision of facilities such as Working Capital Loan, Internationalisation Finance Scheme and Venture debt. ESG emphasises on financial and human capital strategies. The agency partners with global financial institutions, venture capitalists, and private equity and development banks to provide additional financing options that support SMEs in their transformation journey.

Promoting the Global Trade Hub Environment

Enterprise Singapore is charged with the continuous promotion of Singapore as an international Trade Hub. Its leverages new sector growth while expanding enterprise networks, improving industry infrastructure and forming a stream of business-ready talent.

ESG has the onus to drive digitisation marketplace and existing business platforms. It’s also charged with connecting local platforms with global market players and seeking to draw international connections to the Singaporean business front. So far, ESG is keen on promoting b2b e-platforms that provide innovative solutions.

Quality and Excellence for Enterprises Growth

Enterprise Singapore plays the role of national standards and accreditation agency. It provides oversight in areas of consumer goods safety. The agency strives to enhance the standards and quality infrastructure to drive the competitiveness of Singaporean businesses, products and industries. This is geared towards offering them a smooth entry into any global market.

Identifying and Solving SME Challenges

Building on resources and partner programmes, ESG keeps tabs on emerging challenges and opportunities in an evolving global economic landscape. It’s the lead agency when it comes to anticipating the issues facing our SMEs. As such, it channels its resources into crafting strategies and programmes to mitigate such problems. ESG is committed to developing new capabilities that enable Singaporean ventures to gain a competitive edge on a global scale.

Working with Enthusiastic Companies

Though it might not sound like a responsibility, ESG operates with the resolve to partner with willing SMEs to grow and maintain their competitive edge. The agency provides access to businesses that need advice, better networks, and program incentives.

SMEs with elaborate plans and the willingness to implement their expansion plans, ESG provides ready solutions by way of grants and tax incentives. ESG points out that for SMEs to benefit, they need to express interest in getting assistance. The agency has open communication lines, SME centre support and an Enterprise Singapore hotline. There’s no doubt that Enterprise Singapore will support your transformation and expansion efforts once you get in touch.

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NB: Covid Alert

Following the disruption of businesses due to the Covid-19 Outbreak, enterprise Singapore has introduced a support package for new online retailers.

The E-Commerce Booster Package sponsored by ESG now covers up to 90% of the costs of selling online, the booster package is aimed at helping (SMEs with no backing in the e-commerce industry.

E=retailers need to sign up with leading ecommerce platforms to qualify for the waiver.

The ESG booster package will cover expenses including:

  • Manpower costs.
  • Three months’ salary costs for three employees

ESG hasn’t stated the cap for the support package that is set to run up to September 30.

Enterprise Singapore Support Facilities and Resources

Apart from facilitating business grants, SME workshops, and other non-financial services, Enterprise Singapore presents additional Support facilities; with help from enterprise partners. These resources seek to bolster proliferation SME growth and expansion. Some ESG supported facilities include:

SME Centres

SME Centres provide first-stop solutions provider for your business growth. ESG gives local SMEs access to business advice. The agency partners with trade associations and local chambers to initiate SME centres and satellite hubs. These resources focus on helping SMEs to identify opportunities and tackle challenges.

SMEs provide advisory services, capability workshops, tradeshow facilitation and Group-based upgrading initiatives, among others.

Centres of Innovation (COIs)

Centres of Innovation (COIs) incorporate input from students, community and industry players to find solutions to complex real-life problems. COIs provide experiential learning for interns/students and moulds them to become discerning, out of the box problem solvers in the future.

Overview

Enterprise Singapore supports COIs with the principle that these centres will, at one point, commercialise their pioneering innovations to turn scholarly research output into industry applicable technology.

SMEs that want to gain a head start with innovation can leverage the resources offered in the available Centres of Innovation. The centres available include:

  • Centre of Innovation for Supply Chain Management
  • Food Innovation Resource Centre
  • Marine and Offshore Technology Centre of Innovation
  • Aquaculture Innovation Centre
  • Centre of Innovation for Complementary Health Products
  • Environmental and Water Technology Centre of Innovation
  • Materials Centre of Innovation
  • Precision Engineering Centre of Innovation
  • Centre of Innovation for Electronics and IoT
  • EcoLabs Centre of Innovation for Energy

Productivity Centres

Productivity Centres are one-stop competency centres that enable SMEs to drive up productivity. These centres are supported by ESG to facilitate sector-specific productivity plans and assistance. They support SMEs by pointing out the weak areas and assisting them to implement new productivity solutions.

Some productivity centres in Singapore include:

Singapore Innovation and Productivity Institute

It focuses on Logistics, Engineering and manufacturing

It provides:

  • Research and benchmarking in the innovation and productivity field to identify new strategies and best practices.
  • Symposiums, think-tank forums and group-based seminars to disseminate innovation and productivity knowledge.
  • Advisory services on productivity framework development, productivity road-mapping productivity project training and lean diagnostics.
  • Training/symposiums on innovation and productivity tools with simulation and application of macro-enabled tools.
  • Sessions to discuss innovation and productivity best practices in the manufacturing, engineering and logistics sector

Standards and Compliance

Standards denote a specified set of mare a set of provisions and protocol designed to enhance market-entry, market acceptance, innovation quality and integrity of materials, products and services that consumers buy.

Standards guarantee consumer safety, public health and environmental sustainability.

Why Should Singaporean Companies Adopt Standards?

If you’re a Singaporean business dealing in products, standards enable you to form consistent specifications and processes that can be understood and adopted quickly. They ensure product compatibility, development, and they reduce time to market. SMEs can leverage standards to:

  • Drive productivity
  • Revitalise resource efficiency
  • Support new growth and marketing opportunities
  • Support social needs and safety.

Standards and compliance help you to build credibility and enable your business to stay ahead of the competition.

What is Enterprise Singapore’s Role in Standards Development?

Enterprise Singapore plays the role of the national standards body. It oversees the Singapore Standardisation Programme. ESG collaborates its operations with the Singapore Standards Council. The joint venture caters to:

  • Identification and development of new standards and the review of existing parameters. This ensures the competitiveness of the businesses on the social, safety, health and environmental front
  • Publish Singapore Standards and Technical References
  • ESG represents the country in international standards forums whose members that subscribe to ISO and IEC standards

International Organization for Standardization (ISO)-stands for a globally recognised organisation with 164 member’s nations.

International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC)-IEC is a global non-profit organisation that publishes and enforces standards for the electronic industry. It has 171 members.

The role of the ESG in enforcing standards encompasses enforcement of the weights and measures act. Businesses are obligated to comply with set regulations to give customers value for money.

Adopting standards and technical references is an effective way for your company to maintain consistent quality, build customer trust and gain acceptance in global markets.

Other examples of international and Singapore standards include:

  • ISO 45001 Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems
  • ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems
  • ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems
  • ISO 22301 Business Continuity Management Systems
  • ISO 45001 Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems

At MediaOne, we are conversant with the workings of Enterprise Singapore. Let us assist you to leverage government services in one place. Contact us.

Author Bio

Tom Koh is widely recognised as a leading SEO consultant in Asia who has worked to transform the online visibility of the leading organisations such as SingTel, Capitaland, Maybank, P&G, WWF, etc. Recently he was instrumental in consulting for a New York-based US$30B fund in an US$4Bn acquisition. Tom is a Computational Science graduate of the National University of Singapore. In his free time he performs pro-bono community work and traveling.
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April 05, 2020

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