SPRING Singapore Scales up SME Support to Drive Business Transformation

January 27, 201712:51 pm836 views

Despite the economic slowdown in 2016, some 16,300 enterprises embarked on projects to improve their business capabilities. When fully implemented, the projects from these companies are expected to create $7.8 billion in value added to the economy and some 21,400 skilled jobs. Compared to 2015, these represented increases of 13 percent and 43 percent respectively.

SPRING supported these projects through the Capability Development Grant (CDG) and Innovation and Capability Voucher (ICV). Majority of the projects supported last year were in the areas of productivity improvement and technology innovation.

The 16,300 enterprises embarked on some 16,700 projects of which 2,400 were supported through CDG. This is almost twice the number of projects supported through CDG in 2015 and is the highest number of CDG projects supported over the last five years.

Last year, SPRING launched Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs) for the Retail, Food Services and Food Manufacturing sectors. We also worked with various agencies to drive transformation in the Logistics and Precision Engineering sectors. Innovation and productivity remain pivotal in driving growth for SMEs while internationalisation is a key strategy for businesses to scale up and expand beyond shores.

Another key pillar of the ITMs concerns were on re-skilling and up-skilling workers to take on quality jobs that are created. Businesses in Singapore are committed to this, by upgrading their overall HR capabilities, with about 270 SMEs using the HR Diagnostic tool to diagnose gaps in the HR policies and practices.

Further SMEs in the country have embarked on some 920 human capital related projects in areas such as strengthening core HR functions like compensation and benefits, performance management, recruitment and selection. The country also supported over 1,000 internships to help about 270 SMEs attract young talent.

Strengthening the Ecosystem to Enable High-Growth Startups

Over the past decade, Singapore has witnessed significant progress in the startup ecosystem, and is recognised for of the top 10 startup ecosystems in the world.

SPRING continues to invest in building a vibrant and conducive ecosystem to enable startups to grow and flourish.

In May 2016, seven sector-specific accelerators were appointed to incubate and/or co-invest in high potential startups in the Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering (AME) and Clean Technology (Cleantech) sectors.

See: TAP Will Be Enhanced to Help Improve Productivity of SMEs in Singapore

To provide local high-growth enterprises and innovative start-ups with an alternative financing option to support their expansion plans, SPRING collaborated with Participating Financial Institutions (PFIs) to launch the Venture Debt Programme (VDP) in April 2016. To date, 13 companies from nascent sectors such as AME, Cleantech or Biomedical are on board the programme.

In 2016, with SPRING’s support, 42 start-ups received third-party financing. SPRING SEEDS Capital Pte Ltd, the investment arm of SPRING, co-invested $10.2 million in 16 early-stage companies, catalysing private investments of $26 million.

Building Trust and Consumer Confidence on Singapore

Last year, 50 years of Quality & Standards (Q&S) was celebrated in Singapore. Q&S has proven integral to Singapore’s economic development, ensuring that the products and services meet international standards of quality and safety, thus lending confidence to foreign investors and boosting the competitiveness of Singapore companies in the global arena.

To help SMEs achieve impactful business outcomes in their capability development projects through certified management consultants, SPRING introduced the Consultant Quality Initiative in July last year. As of December 2016, more than 400 management consultants have been certified.

Mr Poon Hong Yuen, CEO of SPRING Singapore said, “The success of local enterprises is critical to Singapore’s economy. Together with our partners, SPRING is committed to supporting enterprises to grow and to upgrade their capabilities.”

Leveraging partnerships remains vital to expanding the support network for SMEs. Together with its partners, SPRING engaged more than 42,000 enterprises in 2016, with some 30,600 receiving assistance through SME Centres where SMEs can obtain free business advice and access to information on government schemes.

SPRING continually invests in efforts to deepen its collaboration with industry partners. Last year, it introduced the Local Enterprise and Association (LEAD)+ Programme, aimed at raising the competencies of Trade Associations and Chambers (TACs) to enable them to play a bigger role in driving sector transformation.

To date, five TACs are onboard LEAD+ and are being supported in a variety of areas such as strengthening leadership and secretariat capabilities, developing knowledge management systems, and driving the adoption of business solutions.

“Our partners were also instrumental in implementing key SPRING initiatives to improve SMEs’ access to financing. During Budget 2016, the SME Working Capital Loan was launched to provide debt financing support for SMEs through PFIs to support their growth and restructuring needs. So far, 4,300 companies have had their applications for the loan approved.”

In 2017, SPRING will focus on the implementation of the ITM strategies to drive industry transformation. At the same time, we will scale up promising SMEs to strengthen Singapore’s position as a start-up hub and enhance the business ecosystem to support enterprise growth.

Also read: Fair and Progressive Employment Practices Remain Strong amidst Rapidly Changing Business Environment in Singapore

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