According to a recently released government report, Small businesses (those with less than 20 employees) make up almost 99% of all enterprises. They also contribute to nearly 50% of Singapore’s GDP, having employed more than two-thirds (about 65%) of the country’s workforce.
Key Factors to Consider Before Applying for a Grant in Singapore
Your biggest concern when applying for a grant in Singapore should be how you’ll get it approved. This demands that you look into the following key factors:
Due Diligence: Do your research and identify all the grants that your business is eligible for. Don’t just get lost on one particular grant. Scour around for alternative grants and weigh your options.
Support documents: You’ll be asked to submit all these documents on top of your application. It’s upon you to ensure you have all the supporting documents and information on ready should you be asked to provide them.
Early Submission: Submitting your application right on time (better yet, as early as possible), means you’ll have enough time and opportunity to correct any oversight in case something goes amiss.
Seek Help: Many enterprises are subject to red tape and bureaucracy. They have a long list of legalities and criteria to deal with. It helps to hire a professional to guide you all through the process.
Leverage Buy-in: Private investors and other stakeholders will be more willing to go in business with you if you’re eligible for a government grant. You want to take advantage of grants because they’re a good way to legitimize and validate your business.
Common Types of Grants
Grants awarded by the government, foundation, and corporate institutes broadly fall under two categories:
- Operating Support or General-Purpose Grants
- Project Support or Program Development Grants
Operating Support or General-Purpose Grants
General-purpose grants have no specific function. Typically, they’re meant to support general expenses that come with operating your organization. You can use them to fund a specific program, to clear your bills, or for tax reduction.
Operating grants mean the funder doesn’t want to limit how you intend to use the funds. They’ll support whatever mission you have so long as you put the funding into good use.
Project or Program Support Grants
Some government agencies providing grants are only interested in funding specific projects or connected sets of activities, from the beginning to the end or up to a certain point. Usually, they’ll have a pre-set list of clear objectives and a predetermined budget for it.
When this funder decides to give your organization a grant, they expect you to use it for that particular project strictly.
Different Types of Project Grants
There are different types of project grants, given to support programs that relate to the overall mission of the funding organization, ministry, or foundation.
|Planning Grants||When working on a new program or project, you need to spend a great deal of money and time just figuring out how the final product will look like. That demands that you write a proposal, do some thorough research, consult the experts in the field, and so on.
A planning grant is meant to support the initial development process of a project before it gets off the ground.
|Start-up and Seed Money Grants||A start-up grant is designed to help a new program or organization in its early stages of development. The idea is to give your business the much-needed impetus to get into momentum, so they can get started without worrying much about funding.
Often, such grants are given for more than a year, with an exponential decrease in the amount after each year. For instance, a business might receive about $25, 000 in grants for the first year, $15, 000 for the second year, and $7, 000 for the third year.
|Technical Assistance or Management Grants||Unlike other project grants, the management grant isn’t exactly mission-oriented. Rather, it supports the administrative activities of an organization. It may support marketing, fundraising, financial management, etc.
The grant may also be used to hire a consultant or to pay salaries for the new positions you’re creating in your organization.
|Facilities and Equipment Grants||This grant is sometimes referred to as a capital grant or brick-and-mortar grant. It’s meant to help organizations buy or upgrade long-lasting physical assets such as computers, buildings, or vans.
The applicant has to make a case that the acquisition will help them serve their clients better. Funders giving this type of grant won’t just be interested in the current financial standing of your organization. They’ll also be interested in your future financial plan or program.
|Endowment Grant||Some organizations have money that they’ve set aside to earn interest. So, they only spend the interest as the rest remains untouched.
Periodically, these organizations seek out more funds to grow or add to their endowment kit. Some funders offer this type of grant, and all they’ll be interested in is making sure the funds go directly into your endorsement kit and not funding any other operation.
|Program-Related Investments (PRIs)||PRIs aren’t considered grants since they have to be repaid. They’re like loans, but with low-interest rates.
PRIs are often made to non-profit organizations involved in building projects. It’s for projects that are eligible for the grant or those that get approved after undergoing a thorough evaluation process.
Key Government Grants for SMEs in Singapore
Here’s a list of top government grants and incentives to put into good use:
Grant Programmes for Start-ups and New Entrepreneurs
First-time entrepreneurs don’t just need financial support. They also need training and mentorship. As a newbie entrepreneur, the best way to learn about business practices and identify the start-up grants that your business is eligible for would be to sign up for the BASECAMP programme.
Here are a few grant options available for new entrepreneurs and start-ups:
Start-up SG Founder
Start-up SG Founder was specifically created for new entrepreneurs looking for mentorship, financial support, and networking opportunities.
The program offers mentorship and starting capital to first-time entrepreneurs. It does this by matching $3 for every $1 the entrepreneur manages to raise.
Applicants are evaluated by Accredited Mentor Partners, which qualifies them based on the following criteria:
- Feasibility of their business model
- The uniqueness of their business concept
- Strength of their management team
- Potential market value
Terms and Conditions
How to Apply?
- You can start by attending ACE’s grant briefing, conducted every month, on the first Friday.
- Apply for BASECAMP
- Be sure to go through the entire program
- Successful start-ups will get a recommendation for appropriate funding from Enterprise Singapore
Start-up SG Talent
Start-up SG Talent is focused on nurturing talents. The goal is to help them set up innovative businesses in the country.
They also try to connect start-ups with top talents. The scheme focuses on three grant avenues:
- SME Talent Programme
- Entrepreneur Pass (Enterpass)
- Technology for Upgrading Enterprise Capability (T-UP)
Entrepass means Entrepreneur Pass. Entrepass is a foreign entrepreneur visa given to promising talents from other countries, as a green light to start a business in Singapore. The pass can have a validity of up to 2 years. It aims to facilitate entry and complement local skillsets for a more pulsating start-up ecosystem.
Terms and Conditions
Start-up SG Equity
For the start-up Equity schemes, the government may decide to co-invest with qualified independent and third-party investors into promising start-ups.
The program aims to stimulate private sector investments and turn them into innovative Singapore-based start-ups with global market potential.
|Investment cap for the two types of start-up||$2M||$4M|
|Co-investment Ratio||7:3 (up to $250)
1:1 for investments above that (up to $2 million)
|7:3 (up to $500K)
1:1 for investments above that (capped at $4 million)
In the initial investment round of up to $250, 000, the government will defray 70% of the funding ($500, 000 for a deep tech start-up).
- After that, the government will double whatever investment the private investor makes. If the investor pumps in $1, the government will top it up by another $1. The funding is capped at $2 million.
Start-up SG Tech
Companies receive funding for Proof-of-Concept and Proof of Viability Projects.
For Proof of Concept projects, they’re eligible for up to $250, 000 of funding.
For proof of viability, they’re eligible for up to $500, 000 of funding.
The annual revenue must not exceed $100 million. The company must also not employ more than 200 people.
This grant has six avenues, each focused on improving different aspects of growing your business.
Grant Programmes for Existing Businesses
These grant programmes target existing businesses that want to grow or expand their capabilities across different areas.
|Market Readiness Assistance|| MRA grant supports businesses that want to expand internationally. Here are the activities it covers:
Agency: Enterprise Singapore
Amount: 70% funding capped at $20, 000
|Productivity Solution Grant||Singapore government launched a new grant scheme not long ago, the Productivity Solutions Grant.
How it Works
It’s a government scheme that aims to help out SMEs in Singapore improve productivity by implementing technology solutions. It can defray the cost incurred in adopting off-the-shelves technology solutions by up to 70%.
Basically, it supports companies that want to improve their productivity or business processes by adopting IT solutions.
Follow these simple steps to apply for the PSG:
|Companies looking to apply for this grant must meet the following eligibility criteria:
|Raise SG: Venture for Good Grant||Venture for Good (VFG) supports social enterprises in their various stages of development. Both new and already operating social enterprises are allowed to apply for the grant (capped at $300, 000).
|Who Can Apply:
The grant is open to all, both new and existing Singapore-based social enterprises. The primary prerequisite is that you should be registered or at least intend to register with the Co-operative Societies Act or Companies Act.
Applicants that have yet to incorporate their businesses and happen to be in the middle of prototyping should at least illustrate or validate their partnership with an appropriate Social Service Agency.
Before grant disbursement, the company must be incorporated and registered with raiSE.
Your social enterprise must seek to address a social gap in Singapore through either one or more of the outcome areas below. That’s the eligibility criteria.
|Singapore Tourism Board (Business Improvement Fund)
|Innovation & Capability Voucher
||The IVC was created to encourage local SMEs to upgrade. It seeks to help them strengthen their capabilities in the areas of productivity, innovation, financial management, and human resources through consultancy.
|Productivity Max Programme (P-Max)||P-Max aims to assist small and medium-sized businesses to recruit and retain PMEs (Professional Managers and Executives).
Agency: Workforce Development Agency of Singapore (WDA)
Amount: Up to 90% reimbursement of course fees. $5000 assistant grant for retaining the new hire for at least six months.
|Productivity Innovation Project Scheme||This scheme defrays the cost of adopting technology by up to 70%. It intends to see to it that many companies are applying technology to re-engineer their work processes and improve productivity.
Amount: Co-funds up to 70% of technology adoption costs. Capped at $1 million.
The grant supports the following courses, as well as their reimbursement:
|Limited to companies that are registered and anchored in Singapore
Construction businesses involved with projects that improve productivity at a minimum rate of 20% (40% for advanced PIP scheme).
Who’s the PIP Grant for?
The grant is for registered companies dealing with construction-related work. Even more important, the company must be anchored in Singapore.
What’s the Grant for?
To help incentive schemes re-engineer processes and adopt labour-efficient construction technologies. The end goal is to improve site productivity and reduce site workers.
|Enterprise Development Grant||EDG was officially launched on 25th October 2018, after the Global Company Partnership Grant and Capacity Development grant were merged.
The grant is managed and instituted by Enterprise Singapore. It’s designed for local enterprises that want to expand their market beyond the Singapore border.
Qualified projects get to enjoy up to 70% of cost funding, including software purchases, consultancy fees, internal labour costs, etc.
| Eligibility Criteria For this Grant:
Government Stimulus Efforts and Grants to Fight Covid-19 Crisis in Singapore
COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) is shaking the world’s economy. The Singaporean government is doing whatever it can to sustain its economy and mitigate the impact.
At the time of writing this, $48 billion have been set aside by the Singaporean government to support those affected and ensure that businesses remain afloat in these trying times.
Government Support for Companies:
|Job Support Scheme||The JSS has offered to support about 1.9 million local employees in the country. Their support will stretch to nine months (until the end of the year) from the previous three months.
Previously, employers were getting 8% on the first $3, 600 of their monthly salaries. But now, they’ll be getting 25% on the first $4, 600 of their monthly salaries.
|All employers who have been making CPF contributions for their employees qualify for the grant, save for the few on this list.
The payout is automatic as long as you’ve been making your CPF contributions. No need for an application.
Pay-outs will come in three instalments, with the first one coming in May, the next one in July, and finally, in October.
|Wage Credit Scheme||WCS earlier on allocated $600 million for employees. But following the coronavirus pandemic, they decide to top it up with an additional $500 million. Meaning, their grant kitty now has $1.1 billion waiting to be disbursed.||Ideally, the scheme promotes wage increases. One way it does this is by encouraging companies to share their profits or productivity gains with their employees.
Their monthly salary must have increased by about $50 from the previous year, after which the employees must have continued earning the increased salary.
How to Apply
You don’t have to apply or file for the grant. If you’ve benefited from additional wage credit, then be sure to receive another payout in September 2020. You should receive a letter that notifies you about the payout.
|SGUnited Traineeships||SGUnited Traineeship was created for postgraduate and undergraduate students that are scheduled to graduate at the end of the year. It’s a training program offered to students from the university, polytechnic, ITE, or any other educational facility.
Employers: Employers are also allowed to bring in fresh graduates and offer them training. In return, they’ll receive support from the government during the entire training period.
Trainees: During the entire training period, trainees will receive training allowances co-funded by the government and other stakeholders.
|The application procedure and eligibility criteria for this grant have yet to be released.
|Property Tax Rebate||Property owners have a chance to apply for this grant and ease their cost pressure during the period of this pandemic. Qualifying properties include apartments, shops, tourist attractions, hotels, restaurants, and so forth.
Property owners will enjoy a property tax rebate of up to 100% for the whole fiscal year.
|Eligibility Criteria for 100% tax rebate
Eligibility Criteria for 60% Rebate
Eligibility Criteria for 30% Rebate
How to Apply
No application procedure. Qualifying property owners just have to wait for IRAS to send them the rebate notices (which they intend to do by 31st May 2020).
All refunds should be made by 30th June 2020.
|Cash flow Support||Was your cash flow affected? The government plans to support those whose cash flow has been affected by the pandemic.
Here’s the support it offers:
|Capability Development||The capability development support grant was created to support professional development in the arts field. The grant covers workshops, seminars, residencies, masterclasses, and a range of other training programmes.
||Eligibility Criteria for PSG
How to Apply:
For EDG, your application will be evaluated by Enterprise Singapore. Follow this link to learn more about the grant and how to apply for it.
|Resilience Building||The STEER programme was created to support businesses that were affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Under the programme, Enterprise Singapore plans to merge S$1 for every S$2 raised by industry groupings and the TACs. The funding is capped at $1 million.||To find out more about the STEER program and how to apply for it, use this link to contact Enterprise Singapore.
|Advanced Aviation Support||As the coronavirus continues to ground flights, the government offers to pay 75% of the first S$4, 600 of local aviation employees.
Airlines are set to benefit in the following ways:
Employers who made their CPF contributions.
How to Apply
No need to apply. Qualifying employers will be computed automatically based on CPF data and receive pay-outs in 3 instalments – the first one in May, the second one in July, and the last one in October.
|Enhanced Rental Waivers||About 14,000 stallholders and hawkers will be offered rent waivers for the next three months to come. This should tide them over until the COVID-19 dust settles.
This waiver doesn’t cover all stallholders, but those at hawk centres and marketers, as managed by the NEA (National Environment Agency.
Follow this link to learn more about this waiver.
|Enhanced care and Support Package||This grant was created to support affected families and individuals. Eligible citizens receive S$300, S$600, or S$900, depending on how much they earn.
Parents with at least one child will receive an additional S$300.
|No need to apply. Eligible citizens will have the funding wired and directed to their bank accounts.
|NTUC Care Fund||This is a one-off cash payout for union members. The estimated 108, 000 members are set to receive unexpected funding any time before the end of the year.||For those with families or living with people that depend on them:
Existing members of the union will receive S$300.
New members (those who signed up after 1st March 2010) will receive S$200.
For those without families or living alone, without people that depend on them:
S$100 for existing members
S$50 for new members.
How to Apply:
Members are free to apply for the grant via the NTUC Portal, from 25th March to 30th September.
|Temporary Relief||As the name suggests, this grant is about offering immediate support. It’s more concerned with assisting with the day-to-day expenses of those affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Eligible candidates have until the 30th of April (2020) to apply.
How to Apply
Submit your application to a Social Service Office near you.
|Flexibility on Government Loans and Fees||Government loans are a headache for graduates, especially during this period. The government understands the hardship and is offering some relief on this. They’re suspending all interest and charges from the 1st of June (2020) to the 31st of May (2021).||This applies to all graduates of self-sufficient polytechnics and universities.
|Enhance Workfare Special||Eligible Singaporean citizens will receive a payout of $3, 000, delivered in two instalments – July and October 2020. It’s meant to tide over low-wage workers above the age of 35.||Eligibility Criteria
How to Apply
Candidates are assessed based on their CPF contributions
For self-employed candidates, the government will assess you through the Ministry of Manpower, but only if you had declared it.
Singapore Government Grants for Digital Marketing
Productivity Solution Grant (PSG)
PSG was rolled out on 1st April 2018 to encourage the application of digital productivity in businesses across Singapore. At the moment, PSG offers to fund as much as 70 per cent of all costs incurred for qualifying activities in these sectors:
- Precision engineering
Businesses are also allowed to apply for PSG to enable solutions in areas such as data analytics, customer management, and inventory tracking. The applicants must be registered to do business in Singapore besides affirming that those solutions will be used in Singapore.
Enterprise Development Grant – EDG
EDG was rolled out in November 2018 to support businesses in three areas:
- Innovation and productivity
- Business and market development
This grant combined two previous grants: Global Company Partnerships Scheme and the Capacity Development Gran – CDG. The company must be licensed to operate in Singapore to benefit from this grant.
The annual of the company should be at least S$100 million and the staff size of 200 employees or less. In addition, at least 30 per cent of its shares should be locally owned. A qualified SME will enjoy 70 per cent of funding support from the government. A non-SME will get a 20 per cent hike on comparable support previously offered by the CDG.
PACT (Extended Grant)
PACT is an extended grant based on a previous grant of the same name. The old PACT aimed at enhancing mutually beneficial partnerships between local companies and larger global companies.
The new PACT, which came into effect on 1st April 2018, takes this collaboration a notch higher by supporting the partnership between Singapore-based companies of any size. Lead Enterprises, a company established by PACT, oversees all the collaborations. The projects created in the collaborations cut across several areas:
- Alliances and shared resources
- Capability development and upgrading of technological capabilities
Double Tax Deductions for Internationalisation DTDi (Extended Grant)
DTDi is an extended pact created to spur international expansion by Singapore businesses. Any Singapore business with global activities will qualify for a 200 per cent tax waiver up to $150,000. This waiver is an increment from the previous $100,000 on all costs incurred on these activities:
- Overseas promotional or advertising campaigns
- Due diligence and investment feasibility studies
- Overseas trade fairs
- Overseas business-oriented development trips
- Feasibility studies and market surveys
- Expenses incurred on Singaporean staff operating overseas
The applicant needs to be licensed to operate in Singapore. Foreign companies present in Singapore can be considered based on the case.
Market Readiness Assistance – MRA (Extended Grant)
MRA is an extended grant (initially introduced in 2013) aimed at helping SMEs in accessing overseas opportunities. Initially, a company would be eligible for 50 per cent support for a list of qualifying activities. The new MRA (brought into effect in 2018) has the support increased to 70 per cent. For a company to be eligible for the MRA grant, it needs to venture into the following activities:
- Overseas marketing and promotion
- Identification of overseas trading partners
- Overseas market setup including documentation and legal expenses
Also, the company should be registered in Singapore, has a staff of 200 employees or less, and have an annual turnover of $100 million or less.
SME ‘Go Digital’ Programs
This grant is aimed at helping Singapore SMEs in staying abreast with the pace of innovation and technological change in the country’s digital marketing economy. It is more focused on areas that have more potential for growth with technology, such areas as whole trade, cleaning and security, food services, and retail. Free advice will be offered to SMEs by appropriate SME Centres about the right technologies to apply and grow. The applicant is required to register with the appropriate SME Centre to benefit from this grant.
Venture Debt Program –VDP (Extended Grant)
Many Singapore companies, especially those outside the tech field, have traditionally had hardships in capital sourcing. This has been the problem partly because venture capitalists are more interested in the tech industry than in any other area. The government of Singapore came up with the VDP in 2015 to allow promising SMEs to access affordable loans of up to $5 million. This loan can be used for asset financing, acquisition and mergers, working capital, and project financing. The SME needs to be at least 30 per cent locally owned and have a staff of 200 employees or less.
Business Improvement Fund – BIF
BIF aims at helping businesses adopt technology and redesign their business models, especially in the tourism industry, to boost their competitiveness and productivity. For a business to qualify for this grant, it needs to fall either in the tourism or tech sectors. The support offered by the grant can be used to strengthen such areas as product development, automation, service excellence, and human capital management, among others.
Energy Efficiency Fund – E2F
E2F aims at helping industrial companies lower their facilities’ operating costs through the adoption of efficient energy production. To attain this, E2F encourages co-funding of the development of efficient facility design, energy-efficient technologies & equipment, and energy assessment.
The funding will cater for 70 per cent of all costs incurred in hiring third-party professionals to conduct level-3 energy assessments and evaluate the design of the facilities. It also guarantees 30 per cent support on costs incurred in implementing energy efficiency plans on the facilities. To qualify for this grant, the company should be based in Singapore and be in partnership with EENP.
Enhanced Training Support
This grant is exclusively aimed at SMEs to help them get the necessary funding needed in training their employees and upgrading their skills. It also avails over 8,000 CET (continuing education & training) courses to SME employees. To be eligible for this grant, an SME needs to meet these requirements:
- Be registered in Singapore
- Be 30 per cent owned locally
- Be compliant with Singapore Employment Act
- Have a staff of 200 employees or less
- Have an annual turnover of $100 million or less
- The employees should be Singaporean by birth or permanent residents of Singapore
Capability Transfer Program – CTP
There have been massive capability gaps between the foreign specialists and the local workforce. The Capability Transfer Program is aimed at plugging this gap by engaging the highly skilled foreign specialists working in Singapore to transfer their capabilities to the locals. It also aims at supporting the training of Singaporeans abroad to acquire relevant technical skills.
How the CTP works
The chief aim of CTP is to improve the synch factor between the foreign and local workforce by supporting the transfer of the capabilities to the less experienced locals. This will encourage:
- Organisations and professional bodies to acquire and develop new capabilities
- A culture of capabilities transfers across entities and sectors
For a company’s employees to be eligible for this grant, it needs to be compliant with Singapore’s Employment Act and have 30 per cent local ownership. An identifiable gap will be identified first before the project is considered. In addition, the potential benefit of the transfer of relevant capabilities will be evaluated.
Lean Enterprise Development – LED
This grant gives companies access to transitional foreign manpower and funding to help them become manpower-lean. The grant has three broad objectives:
- To help SMEs grow and transform into manpower-lean organisations
- To develop a better and quality workforce
- To give companies access to transitional manpower support
- To foster inter-agency cooperation
Operation and Technology Roadmapping –OTR
This grant is aimed at helping businesses develop technology roadmaps that are aligned with their business goals and strategies. It costs up to $25,000. The eligible business should be owned by a Singaporean or have 30 per cent local ownership.
If you have questions concerning SME grants in Singapore, do not hesitate to contact us at 6965 7008.
We can work together in preparing the necessary documents and polishing your application to increase your chances of getting approved for any particular grant on the list.