GOVERNMENT GRANTS CLAIMS AND SUBSIDIES
Singapore holds the highest reputation of having the best setups to help and establish and grow new businesses in the region.
The country’s position is based on a lot of factors, including the location that provides great access to some of Asia’s most powerful emerging and current economic strong houses. One of the significant reasons for starting a business in Singapore is the amount of support that the Singaporean Government offers to businesses.
Singapore Government offers grants in three ways
- Cash Grants
- Equity Finance Schemes
- Cash Grants
The best-sounding grant, and the most populated, cash grants offer financial assistance under different conditions for up-and-coming startups. Startups are eligible for these grants and schemes on the basis of qualifying criteria set by the government.
ACE STARTUP GRANT
(ACE) in collaboration with SPRING Singapore (an enterprise development agency of the country) is a government backed grant that supports first-time entrepreneurs who are either citizens of Singapore or Permanent residents of the country. For every S$3 raised by the entrepreneur, SPRING funds the startup $S7. The maximum amount extended by ACE is S$50,000.
The SPRING Startup Enterprise Development Scheme (SEEDS) provides equity financing for local startups that have an innovative idea or product. SPRING SEEDS, the investment arm of SPRING Singapore invests the same amount as invested in the startup by a third party investor with a maximum limit of $2 million. The equity is distributed between SPRING SEEDS and the investor in proportion to the amount invested.
EARLY STAGE VENTURE FUND (ESVF) SCHEME
The Early Stage Venture Fund launched in 2008, is a scheme administered by the National Research Foundation (NRF). According to this scheme, the NRF partners with venture capital firms to co-invest in Singapore startups on a 1:1 basis. The investments are made in early stage high-tech companies based in Singapore. The venture capital firms have an option to buy out NRF’s share within a period of five years. The firms have to return NRF’s capital along with interest
TECHNOLOGY ENTERPRISE COMMERCIALIZATION SCHEME (TECS).
The Technology Enterprise Commercialization Scheme (TECS) funds startups in their Research & Development phase to develop innovative technology. Funding by TECS can be up to S$750,000. To be eligible for this scheme, startups must be registered for at least 5 years with their primary business activities being carried out in Singapore.
I.JAM (IDM JUMP-START AND MENTOR)
i.JAM initiated by the Media Development Authority aims to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in Singapore for interactive digital media (IDM) projects. i.JAM extends support to startups that have a unique idea, product or service by extending the i.JAM Micro-funding scheme through a network of various incubators. The incubators appointed by the Interactive Digital Media Programme Office (IMPO) invest in the qualifying project of the startup.
SECTOR SPECIFIC ACCELERATOR (SSA) PROGRAMME
The Sector Specific Accelerator Programme (SSA) is part of the Research, Enterprise and Innovation Plan 2015 that aids startups in the medical and clean technology sector. The programme commits up to $70 million to support these startups. Clearbridge BSA, Singapore Medtech Accelerator, Zicom MedTacc and Medtech Alliance are the four accelerators appointed that co-invest these funds along with SPRING SEEDS Capital on a 1:1 basis in the startups.
TECHNOLOGY INCUBATION SCHEME (TIS)
The Technology Incubation Scheme (TIS), administered by the National Framework for Innovation and Enterprise (NFIE) invests in Singapore startups. The National Research Foundation, on the recommendation of the Technology Incubator of the scheme, can co-invest in a Singapore startup up to 85% of the total investment. The maximum amount the NRF invests in each company is S$ 500,000. The TIS Scheme has 14 Technology Incubators registered for this scheme.
Angel Investing Networks
Angel investors are high net worth individuals who invest in startups at their seed stage. These investors (known as “angels”) invest in companies despite no proven success of the company’s business model. The investors invest either individually or as a group. This funding source is advantageous to startups that do not have a final business model and require quick access to capital. In Singapore, the angel networks include the following:
BUSINESS ANGEL NETWORK SOUTH EAST ASIA (BANSEA)
BANSEA is an angel investment network that was established in 2001 in Singapore. It organises conferences, workshops, etc to promote the angel investing network in Asia. BANSEA’s mission is to facilitate investment opportunities for members in early stage startups. BANSEA is open to entrepreneurs who have a great idea and require funding to establish themselves.
BUSINESS ANGEL SCHEME (BAS)
SPRING SEEDS supervises the Business Angel Scheme (BAS) which is an equity investment scheme for Singapore-based enterprises. SPRING SEEDS partners with angel groups to invest in innovative startups. SEEDS invests a dollar for a dollar up to a maximum amount of S$1.5 million. The business angel group and SEEDS will take an equity share in the startup in proportion to their investment.
SINGAPORE ANGEL NETWORK (SGAN)
Singapore Angel Network (SGAN) is the investment arm of Thakral Group of Companies in Singapore. SGAN invests in startups usually at the later stage of their finance requirements. This angel network does not target any specific industry and invests in various business sectors in Singapore and other countries as well.
13 Startup Schemes and Grants in Singapore
Startup SG –The platform provided by the said initiative caters to every possible permutation of a start-up ecosystem, and is categorised under six different pillars.
Startup SG Founder-It provides mentorship and start-up capital grant to first-time entrepreneurs with innovative business ideas
Startup SG Tech- It is aimed at providing early-stage funding to companies for the commercialization of proprietary technology, and includes both Proof-of-Concept (POC) and Proof-of-Value (POV) grants depending on the technology’s developmental stage.
Startup SG Equity-the Singapore Government co-invests in a start-up along with third party investors – is aimed at encouraging and stimulating private-sector investments into innovative, Singapore-based technology start-ups with intellectual property and global market potential
Startup SG Accelerator-This scheme provides funding and non-financial support to incubators and accelerators working in strategic growth sectors to further enhance their programs and expertise in nurturing successful start-ups
Startup SG Talent-This pillar includes schemes such as EntrePass, T-UP and SME Talent Programme (STP) for Start-ups.
Startup SG Loan–While offered through participating financial institutions, these are Government-backed loans, which provide start-ups with much-needed working capital, equipment/factory financing and trade financing.
- Angel Investors Tax Deduction (AITD) scheme
The AITD is for suitable and approved angel investors who commit a minimum of $100,000 in a qualifying startup. The angel enjoys a tax deduction of 50 percent of the investment at the end of a two-year holding period. Do note that for each year, the eligible investments will be subject to a cap of $500,000, and the corresponding maximum tax deduction will be $250,000.
- Financial Sector Technology and Innovation (FSTI) scheme
The FSTI scheme is launched by the Momentary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to provide support for the creation of a vibrant ecosystem for innovation, under which the Authority has committed S$225 million over a five-year period. The scheme is to attract financial institutions to set up their innovation labs in Singapore, support the building of industry-wide technology infrastructure, as well as catalyse the development of innovation solutions.
- Capabilities Development Grant (CDG)
This is a financial assistance programme designed to help start-ups/ SMEs build their capabilities across 10 key business areas. Companies can use the scheme to subsidise up to 70 percent of qualifying project costs including consultancy, training, certification, equipment and software costs. These initiatives must lead to increasing productivity, process improvement, product development, human capital development, business model transformation, and better market access.
5) Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC)
PIC is an initiative under the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore, which allows businesses to enjoy 400 percent tax deductions up to $400,000 or 60 percent cash pay-out up to $100,000, for investments in innovation and productivity improvements. The six activities covered under PIC include R&D, registration of IP, acquisition and in-licensing of IP, acquisition or leasing of prescribed automation equipment, training of employees, and approved design projects.
6) Innovation and Capability Voucher (ICV)
This is a simple to apply, easy-to-use voucher valued at $5,000, to encourage start-ups/ SMEs to develop their business capabilities. Companies can use the voucher to upgrade and strengthen their core business operations through consultancy in the areas of innovation, productivity, human resources and financial management. Each start-up/ SME is entitled to a maximum of eight vouchers, and the duration for each project should not exceed six months.
7) Early Stage Venture Fund (ESVF)
ESVF is an initiative under the National Framework for Innovation and Enterprise. Through ESVF, NRF invests $10 million on a matching basis, to seed corporate venture capital (VC) funds that invest in Singapore-based early stage high-tech companies. Notably, the VC has the option to buy out NRF’s share of the fund within five years by returning NRF’s capital with interest.
8) Business Improvement Fund (BIF)
The BIF is open to all Singapore-registered businesses/companies embarking on projects with a clear tourism focus, and is thus run by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB). It aims to encourage technology innovation and adoption, redesign of business model and processes in the tourism sector to improve productivity and competitiveness. Funding support is awarded based on STB’s evaluation of the scope and merits of the project. While successful SME applicants receive funding support of up to 70 percent of qualifying costs, non-SME applicants receive funding support of up to 50 percent of qualifying costs.
9) Building Information Model (BIM) Fund
This fund, under which companies can apply for up to $30,000 funding, is to encourage wider adoption of BIM collaboration among the built environment industry firms by subsiding part of the cost incurred in training, consultancy, software or hardware.
Finally, if you are a Singapore-registered company and are stepping into a new market or deepening your presence in an existing one, International Enterprise (IE) Singapore offers a suite of assistance programmes
10) Double Tax Deduction for Internationalisation (DTDi)
Companies expanding overseas can enjoy tax savings with DTDi, which provides 200 percent tax deduction on eligible expenses for supported market expansion and investment development activities.
11) Market Readiness Assistance (MRA) Grant
Also, available is the MRA grant of up to 70 percent of eligible third-party costs, which cover activities such as overseas market set-up, identification of business partners, and overseas market promotion.
12) Global Company Partnership Grant
The GCP Grant helps companies defray eligible costs of their overseas expansion projects in capability building, market access and manpower development.
13) International Marketing Activities Programme (iMap)
iMAP supports overseas business missions and Singapore Pavilions at international trade fairs. Companies who are participating in iMAP approved activities will receive support of up to 50 – 70 percent of eligible core expenses such as rental of exhibition space, booth construction cost and fair/mission consultancy expenses.
Additional benefits available to all companies in Singapore include low corporate tax rates, tight intellectual property rights regime, skilled manpower, and good connectivity to emerging markets of Asia. It is totally right to say if you want to build your dream company, Singapore is the place to be.