Updated: 15 July 2019
Startups and SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) employ up to two-thirds of the workforce in Singapore. With such statistics, the government, including SPRING and IE Singapore, have always been actively trying to support these entities, helping them overcome any obstacles that may hinder their growth in their business journey. If you’re a Singapore business or a new startup wanting to be incorporated in Singapore, here are a number of Singapore grants that you might want to check out.
Singapore Grants for SMEs and Startups
The objective of these Singapore grants is to help these businesses in upgrading their capability and internationalization.
Action Community for Entrepreneurship (ACE), launched in 2003 by the Ministry of Trade & Industry and restructured as a private entity in 2014, is supported by the government, under the patronage of Senior Minister of State for Ministry of National Development and Ministry of Trade & Industry, Dr Koh Poh Koon. It is also supported by a few experienced entrepreneurs and professionals, working closely with various ecosystem builders, venture capitalists, business angel networks and accelerators.
It basically supports startups across all stages and focus on three areas:
- Driving co-innovation between startups and enterprises
- Helping startups to scale and internationalise
- Building an access hub of connected ecosystems across countries
ACE help startups at every stage of their business growth, with programmes to help them maximise their potential.
Startup SG Founder provides mentorship and startup capital grant to first-time entrepreneurs with innovative ideas. A key criterion for assessment on whether you should get this government grant is how different or novel your idea/product/service/business model/process is compared to what is available in the market. This scheme provides up to $30,000 by matching $3 for every $1 raised by the entrepreneur.
If you really think you have the best idea in the market, you can apply for Startup SG Founder through an Accredited Mentor Partner (AMP), such as Action Community For Entrepreneurship (ACE) (above). If the AMP assesses that you have met the eligibility and evaluation criteria, it can recommend the application to Enterprise Singapore, together with appropriate milestones for disbursement of grant amounts.
This grant is open to all Singaporeans/Permanent Residents (PR) who are first-time entrepreneurs. Here are some conditions that you have to adhere to at the time of application:
- Applicant(s) must hold or propose to hold at least 30% equity in the underlying company.
- The company must have at least 51% of local shareholding and not be incorporated for more than six (6) months at the point of application to Enterprise Singapore.
- The applicants must not have registered or incorporated any business entity.
- The applicants must not have received any funding for the proposed business idea from another government organisation.
In addition, the applicant would need to adhere to the following conditions at the time of application:
- Be a Singapore Citizen/Permanent Resident who is a first-time entrepreneur holding or proposing to hold a minimum of 30% equity in the applicant company.
- Dedicate a reasonable amount of their time on the business, not be employed full time by another employer and must be a key decision maker in the company.
- Not have received any funding for the proposed business idea from another government organisation.
- Register/have registered a private limited company in Singapore upon approval.
In addition, the startup company would need to meet the following conditions:
- Applicant companies should not be incorporated for more than six (6) months at the point of application.
- The applicant company must also have a minimum Singapore Citizen/Permanent Resident shareholding of 51%.
- Business activities run by the startup company should be conducted wholly or mainly in Singapore.
- Proposed business idea must not be in the following list: cafes, restaurants, night clubs, lounges, bars, foot reflexology, massage parlours, gambling, prostitution, social escort services, employment agencies (including recruiting foreign work permit holders and workers/support staff, relocation services, and manpower services), and geomancy.
Once approved, the AMP will decide on appropriate milestones together with the applicant(s), assisting you with advice, learning programs and networking contacts. The grant will be disbursed in 2 tranches based on agreed project milestones. You will have up to 12 months from the date of letter of offer to meet the milestones to draw down on the grant.
Supported companies under Startup SG Founder cannot pursue other government funding for the same project, though sometimes there are exceptions only for ICV and PIC. However, in these cases, applicant(s) would need to ensure that the same qualifying item(s) is not supported under more than 1 scheme.
(3) Startup SG Tech
Startup SG Tech grant fast-tracks the development of proprietary technology solutions, and catalyses the growth of startups based on proprietary technology and a scalable business model. Companies will be able to receive early-stage funding for the commercialisation of proprietary technology.
This grant will be awarded upon the completion of each milestone and will also carry an equity component where Enterprise Singapore will have the right to exercise a share subscription.
Your solution must:
- Clearly demonstrate how science/technology is applied.
- Be of a breakthrough level of innovation (i.e. distinctly different or new technology which either (i) has the potential to disrupt an existing market; or (ii) to replace, or create, a new market/purpose/niche.).
- Lead to or build on proprietary know-how/IP.
- Be commercially viable.
Applicants should be startup companies:
- Which have been registered for less than 5 years at time of grant application;
- Which have at least 30% local shareholdings;
- Which have group annual sales turnover of not more than $100 million or group employment size is not more than 200 workers; and
- Whose core activities are to be carried out in Singapore.
Your project must either be a:
Proof-Of-Concept (POC) Project: Your solution is at the conceptualisation stage, and the technical/scientific viability still needs to be proven.
Proof-Of-Value (POV) Project: You already have a technically/scientifically viable concept (POC available), and you wish to carry out further development of a working prototype, to validate the commercial merit of an established concept.
To maintain financial discipline, startups would be required to inject an increase in paid-up capital of 10% and 20% of the grant for POC and POV respectively. This replaces prior restrictions on the supportable costs. The grant cap for POC will remain at $250,000 and POV at $500,000.
Your project should fall under one of the following areas:
Advanced Manufacturing/RoboticsBiomedical Sciences and Healthcare
- Industrial IoT
- Advanced materials
- Augmented reality/Virtual reality technologies for manufacturing applications
- Urban & autonomous mobility
- Life science tools
- Clinical diagnostics
- Medical device and products
- Digital health
Clean Technology/Information & Communications Technologies
- Water technologies
- Waste management and recycling solutions
- Urban and sustainability solutions
- Sustainable energy generation and management enablers
- Cybersecurity technology
- Infocomm infrastructure and architecture
- Analytics and artificial intelligence (e.g. Machine Learning)
- Edge technologies
- Augmented Reality/ Virtual reality technologies
- Distributed ledger technologies (e.g. Blockchain)
Precision Engineering/Transport Engineering / Engineering Services
- Silicon photonics
- Sensors and actuators
- Composite technology
- Optics and lasers
- Subsea technologies (e.g. subsea production and monitoring, materials development for high temperature/ high pressure applications)
- Process technologies (e.g. solutions for improved oil recovery)
- Automation platforms
Food Science & Technology
- Food packaging technologiesFood testing solutions (e.g. rapid testing kits)
- Food Safety and Traceability Solutions
- Novel processing technologies (e.g. bio-transformation, AgTech, food waste valorization)
Novel products in the following thematic areas – elderly nutrition, functional food, protein/meat alternatives.
If you’re ready, you can apply here.
Find out more about the other support for Singapore startups.
The Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG) supports companies keen on adopting IT solutions and equipment to enhance business processes with up to 70% in funding. It covers:
- Sector-specific solutions including retail, food, logistics, precision engineering, construction and landscaping industries.
- Adoption of solutions that cut across industries, such as in areas of customer management, data analytics, financial management and inventory tracking.The list of readily adoptable solutions can be found here.
Small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) can apply for PSG if they meet these criteria:
- Registered and operating 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 Process for the PSG
- Go to Tech Depot on SME Portal to access the list of supportable solutions and identify relevant solutions that best suit your business needs.
- For IT solutions: Get a quotation from the pre-approved vendor. For equipment: Source for the equipment and get a quotation from the vendor.
- Submit an application on the Business Grants Portal (BGP).
Productivity Solutions Grant (SkillsFuture Training Subsidy):
Companies with approved PSG applications can apply for this subsidy via the Business Grants Portal (BGP). The subsidy, which is part of the enhanced PSG, allows companies to upskill employees and claim up to 70% of out-of-pocket training expenses, capped at $10,000 per eligible company. This is in addition to existing government course fee subsidies and sector-specific grant cap for the PSG pre-scoped productivity solutions.
The deadline to submit your application is 31 March 2023. For more information, visit: www.skillsfuture.sg/psgtrainingsubsidy.
The Market Readiness Assistance (MRA) grant helps companies to expand overseas, with up to 70% of funding until 31 March 2020, capped at $20,000 per company per fiscal year. It covers a maximum of two applications per year, limited to one activity, such as market entry or participation in a trade fair per application.
Companies should meet the following criteria:
- Your business should be registered in Singapore.
- There should be at least a 30% local shareholding.
- Group turnover per year should not exceed SGD100 million per year based on the most recent audited report, or group employment should not exceed 200 employees.
Here’s the full list of supportable activities.
For application, please note that retrospective applications*, such as signing an engagement letter with the 3rd party consultant, making the first payment or starting the project with him before the application date, will not be accepted. You must submit your application no earlier than six months before the project starts.
*Trade fair applications may be made retrospectively e.g. sign agreements, begin preparations etc. but trade fair applications must be made at least one working day before the actual event day.
If you are ready to apply, visit the Business Grants Portal (BGP).
For claims, send them with relevant supporting documents within three months from the project end date. You need to engage an Enterprise Singapore-appointed auditor to verify your expenses (an audit grant fee will be provided, to be capped at $500 or 70% of the audit fee.)
If you have more questions, you can visit the FAQ page.
The Enterprise Development Grant (EDG) replaces the Capability Development Grant (CDG) and Global Company Partnership Grant (GCP) since October 2018.
The main objective of the EDG, of which companies can receive up to 70% of qualifying project costs like third party consultancy fees, software and equipment and internal manpower cost, is to help Singapore companies grow and transform, supporting projects to help them upgrade their business, innovate or venture overseas. There are 3 pillars:
Projects here help businesses prepare for growth and transformation by strengthening their foundations, going beyond basic functions such as sales and accounting.
Projects support companies that explore new growth areas, or look for ways to enhance efficiency, such as reviewing and redesigning workflow and processes, such as with the help of automation and technologies.
Projects support Singapore companies that are willing and ready to venture overseas, tapping into the EDG to help defray some expansion costs into overseas markets.
To be eligible for the EDG, you need to:
- Be registered and operating in Singapore.
- Have a minimum of 30% local shareholding.
- Be in a financially viable position to start and complete the project.
Application Process for the EDG
Once you’ve confirmed that you’re eligible for the EDG, the next step is to identify the key project category you want to apply for. Here are three project proposal templates to guide you:
- EDG Project Proposal Template – Core Capabilities
- EDG Project Proposal Template – Innovation Productivity
- EDG Project Proposal Template – Market Access
You can approach the SME centres for discussion or identify suitable providers to support your project. If you’re applying for EDG support for consultancy-related costs, you must engage management consultants with Enterprise Singapore-recognised certification. Those who do not need to be certified are:
- Members/specialists in the consultancy team who are not providing management consultancy services, but are performing dedicated functions, such as market research, audit, fieldwork, design/ artwork, equipment installation, and drafting of legal agreements.
- Consultants offering technical advice and expertise in the development of new technology, and solutions vendors.
The EDG only supports new projects that are not generating any revenue at the point of grant application. A project is considered to have begun if suppliers and service providers have already signed a contract, or if any work on the project scope has begun or if payment has been received.
Preparation for Project Proposal
- Prepare the following documents:
- Latest ACRA search or instant information (dated no earlier than 6 months from the date of project application). Please provide information of corporate shareholders, if any.
- Latest audited financial statement (no earlier than 12 months from the date of project application) of your company and consolidated financial statement of your ultimate parent company, if any.
- Relevant proof of quotation for the cost of your project items.
- If you intend to engage management consultants, please include their proposal detailing the work scope, cost breakdown and the CVs and scanned copies of Enterprise Singapore-recognised certification(s) of each individual consultant.
- Projected figures in the following areas arising from the implementation of the project:
- Company revenue
- Staff remuneration
- Net operating profit before tax for three years’ post-project (inclusive of the year of project completion).
Click here for the EDG Application checklist. If you’re ready, click here to apply for the EDG. A complete submission will take 8 – 10 weeks from the time of submission. If you are awarded the grant, you will receive a Letter of Offer (LOF) indicating the conditions of support and the amount of grant awarded. Indicate acceptance of the grant within the timeline given. If not, your application would be considered invalid.
Applications will be assessed by Enterprise Singapore based on project scope, project outcomes and competency of service provider.
EDG projects are supported on a reimbursement basis. Claims can be submitted (“no later than six months from the end of the project qualifying period”) when all project deliverables have been achieved. Here’s more on how to make claims.
Need more help? Here’s the FAQ.
These programmes help in your company’s growth and internationalisation by supporting projects that catalyses cross-border collaboration on technology development and co-innovation. They open up new opportunities for the exchange of ideas and knowledge across companies in different countries. By partnering with an international business, your business can co-innovate solutions, test-bed them and scale up into the region together.
EUREKA Global Star Initiative
Enterprise Singapore has set up partnerships with the EUREKA Network in France, Germany and Shanghai. EUREKA, which is made up of 41 member states that includes the EU, Canada, Chile, South Africa and South Korea, is an intergovernmental network launched in 1985, aims to support market-oriented R&D and innovation projects by industry, research centres and universities across all technological sectors.
Singapore businesses can receive support in the facilitation of and funding for joint innovation projects with companies from seven participating EUREKA member countries (Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain, Turkey and UK).
This initiative is looking for proposals on joint innovation projects from any sector, with a focus on medical technology, smart mobility and logistics, and advanced manufacturing. Some criteria includes:
- Projects should result in a new product, industrial process or service; be innovative and involve a technological risk.
- Projects must be coordinated by an international consortium comprising at least two partners: one company from Singapore and one company from one of the EUREKA member participating countries.
- Project partners must cooperate on an R&D project that will result in a new product, industrial process or service, with the project duration not exceeding three years.
- The product, process or service must be innovative, and involve a technological risk.
One project partner, on behalf of the consortium, should complete the EUREKA project application form, including the required annexes and submit it by 26 September 2019, 2359 CEST.
Separately, each project partner needs to submit a related funding application form to their respective funding bodies. For Singapore companies, this means the Enterprise Development Grant (EDG), which can support up to 70% of the qualifying project costs. Singapore companies must submit the EDG form on the Business Grants portal by 26 September 2019, 2359 SGT, along with all supporting documents.
No individual organisation or individual country can claim more than 70% of the total eligible costs of a joint project.
For more details, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resources for Singapore Grants
As a startup or a new business, these Singapore grants will be a great help to your growth, expansion and sustainability, and also for internationalisation. For more information on these Singapore grants, check out more resources below:
- Enterprise Singapore – All you want to know about Singapore grants.
- Business Grants Portal – Where you go to apply for all Singapore grants.
- SME Portal – Your first stop for business tools, information, and services.
This list is not exhaustive. I will be updating it as and when I know of new grants or funding in Singapore. If you have any questions or additions to the list, please email me at: email@example.com.
If you need marketing consultation, or someone to help your company apply for a grant in Singapore or write a proposal, please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org or contact me at: 96228824.