Singapore Government Grants Available for Startups in 2021

A Comprehensive Guide to Singapore Employment Act

As a top global financial hub, Singapore has attracted thousands of entrepreneurs from across the globe to set up their businesses there. As a result, the city-state is consistently ranked top for the ease of doing business by the World Bank. This achievement has been contributed by various pro-business policies offered by the government. 

To promote the growth and expansion of businesses in Singapore, the government offers various support schemes. In this article, we’ve summarized government grants that startup owners in Singapore can tap into. 

 

Government Grants for Singapore Startups

To apply for a startup grant, your company has to be relatively new (under five years old). In addition, each startup grant has specific eligibility requirements as described below. 

Some of the grants available for startups in Singapore are:

 

Startup SG Founder (SSGF)

The new SSGF consists of two tracks: the SSGF “Train” track (a new track) and the SSGF “Start” track (upgraded from the existing SSGF scheme). 

 

SSGF “Train” Track

For the SSGF “Train” track, Enterprise Singapore (ESG) has appointed Venture Builder and Accredited Mentor Partners (VB-AMP) with strong track records in venture development to provide a 3-month Venture Building program for Singaporeans. The program will support sourcing innovation, commercializing these ideas into scalable businesses, obtaining product/solution validation from customers, and seeking capital.

Eligibility criteria:

  • Applicants are subject to the VB-AMPs’ screening criteria that are not limited to the applicant’s talents, skills, background, and related experience.
  • Applicants must also be able to commit to running a startup after the program.
  • Applicants must be Singapore Citizens (SC)/Permanent Residents (PR) and must commit to a 100% attendance rate to be eligible for this track.
  • Those in full-time or part-time employment will not be eligible unless they tender their resignation before starting the program.

 

SSGF “Start” Track

For the SSGF “Start” track, entrepreneurs can approach Accredited Mentor Partners (AMP) appointed by Singapore Companies with their innovative business ideas. AMP will identify and recommend eligible applicants for funding support based on the unique business concept, the feasibility of the business model, the strength of the management team, and the potential market value.

After successful application, AMP will help startup owners with advice, learning programs, and networking contacts. ESG will also provide startup capital grants of $50,000. In addition, startups must be able to raise and commit S$ 10,000 as a co-matching fund to the grant.

AMP will assess applicants based on (but not limited to) the following criteria: 

  • The uniqueness of the business – how new the business idea/product/service/model/process is compared to what’s available in the market.
  • The feasibility of the business – whether or not the revenue model is sustainable.
  • The potential market opportunity –  how big the size of the target market is and how the company intends to reach its customer segments.
  • Management team – whether the founding team shows an entrepreneurial spirit and passion and has the relevant technical and business skills to carry out ideas.

Click here to see more detailed requirements.

 

Read a related article:

How to Get Funding for Your New Business in Singapore 

 

Startup SG Tech

The Startup SG Tech grant has been revised to facilitate cash flow for eligible companies. Furthermore, it aims to accelerate the development of proprietary technology solutions and catalyze the growth of startups based on proprietary technology and scalable business models.

To be eligible for the Startup SG Tech grant, your solution must:

  • Show clearly how science/technology is applied;
  • be at a breakthrough level of innovation (i.e., a very different or new technology that (i) has the potential to disrupt existing markets; or (ii) replace, or create a new market/destination/niche);
  • leading or developing knowledge/IP ownership; and
  • be commercially viable.

Your company must be:

  • Have been registered for less than five years at the time of grant application;
  • have at least 30% local share ownership;
  • have group annual sales turnover less than $100 million or employees less than 200 workers; and
  • have core activities to be carried out in Singapore.

Refer to this page for more information about the Startup SG Tech grant.

 

Startup SG Equity

The Startup SG Equity scheme was designed to stimulate private sector investment into innovative technology startups based in Singapore with intellectual property and global market potential.

As part of the Startup SG Equity scheme, the government will:

  • co-invest with independent and qualified third-party investors into eligible startups; and
  • invest in particular venture capital firms, which in turn will invest in eligible startups through a fund-of-fund approach.

Startups and investors can apply for the Startup SG Equity scheme. Each category has its own set of eligibility criteria.

If you apply as a startup, you must meet the following criteria:

  • A Singapore-based company with core activities carried out there.
  • Incorporated as a Private Limited company for less than five years.
  • Have a minimum paid-up capital of $50,000.
  • Can prove innovative and substantial intellectual content for your products/services/applications.
  • Have high growth potential with transparent scalability for international markets.
  • Have identified a ready and independent third-party investor.
  • Not involved in forbidden business activities such as gambling, tobacco-related products, or other illegal activities or against the public interest.
  • Your company cannot be a subsidiary or joint-venture.

Eligibility criteria if you apply as a third-party co-investor:

  • You must contribute to the startup’s growth. Therefore, you should have the management experience, relevant business contacts, or necessary technical expertise that complements the startup.
  • You must be prepared to invest at least $50,000 each into each startup.
  • You should not hold shares in the investee before the co-investment (for new investments).

You can see more detailed information about the Startup SG Equity scheme here

 

Startup SG Accelerator

The Startup SG Accelerator scheme supports startup enablers, such as incubators and accelerators, to nurture the development of high-potential Singapore-based startups. In addition, as part of ESG’s efforts to encourage startups to scale and access international markets, the schemer can also support in-market programs developed by startup advocates.

In addition, as part of the ecosystem development, the Startup SG Accelerator scheme can also support global foreign startup enablers in setting up in Singapore. The funding support under this scheme can cover costs such as:

  • Programs to nurture startups: Development program costs that help startups develop new products and services, obtain business financing, improve market access, etc.
  • Mentoring startups: Recruitment of mentors & experts to provide management and technical guidance for startups.
  • Operating expenses (partial): ESG will determine the operating cost components they can support, such as team salaries.

To apply for the Startup SG Accelerator, you must:

  • Be an accelerator, incubator, or venture builder with a unique value proposition or specific program(s) to nurture an innovative startup in areas such as access to markets and talents, financing, entrepreneurship training, management guidance, and mentorship. 
  • Be willing to operate in Singapore to support a Singapore-based startup.
  • Have a revenue model that will be sustainable in the long term;
  • Have a proven management team with the necessary experience and expertise to groom an innovative startup from its early stages into a high-growth company.

You can apply for the Startup SG Accelerator here.

 

Startup SG Infrastructure

Startup SG Infrastructure is a scheme where startups are given workspace in an exclusive cluster to develop and mature. This scheme consists of two facilities; JTC LaunchPad @ one-north and JTC LaunchPad @ Jurong Innovation District.

Below are the eligibility requirements to secure a workspace at an affordable rental in the startup cluster.

For Startups:

  • Singapore incorporated company.
  • Not established for more than five years at the inception of the lease.
  • Individuals hold the majority of shares.
  • Comply with the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) industry usage guidelines. Hence, at least 60% of the space should be used for primary business purposes, while 40% can be used for additional purposes.
  • New companies can apply for a space of no more than 100 square meters.

For Incubators:

  • Must have a comprehensive and transparent development program for startups
  • Have a solid business and industrial networks to contribute to the growth of society
  • Have a strong commitment to nurture and enhance the vibrancy of the cluster

 

Startup SG Loan

The Startup SG Loan scheme highlights government-backed loans that take young companies on track to catalyze their growth opportunities. Loans under this scheme include SME Micro Loans and SME Venture Loans.

 

SME Micro Loans

SME Micro Loans offer companies with ten or fewer employees with products or services on the market access to working capital financing of up to $100,000 to support their daily operations.

Eligibility criteria:

  • Company registered and operating in Singapore.
  • Have at least 30% local shareholding.
  • Have no more than S$1m annual sales or no more than 10 employees.
  • Have no more than S$100m group annual sales or group employment size of no more than 200.

 

SME Venture Loans

SME Venture Loans offer innovative, high-growth companies with products or services on the market access to alternative financing of up to S$5,000,000 for business expansion.

Eligibility criteria:

  • Company registered and operating in Singapore.
  • Have at least 30% local shareholding.
  • Have no more than S$100m group annual sales or group employment size of no more than 200.

 

Startup SG Talent

Startup SG Talent highlights initiatives that foster a more conducive environment for promising global talents to set up businesses in Singapore and for startups to attract talents to be part of their teams.

Schemes under Startup SG Talent include:

 

EntrePass

EntrePass is a work permit scheme under Startup SG Talent for promising entrepreneurs looking to start a venture-supported business or own innovative technology in Singapore. This scheme has been scaled up to facilitate the entry and survival of global entrepreneurial talent who can complement the local expertise and contribute to a more dynamic high-tech startup ecosystem.

Eligibility criteria:

  • Have started or intend to start a private limited company registered with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA).
  • If registered, your company must be less than six months old on the date you apply.
  • If not registered, you can do so after you know the outcome of your application.
  • Meet one of the minimum qualification criteria for an Entrepreneur, Innovator, or Investor application. You don’t need to meet all the criteria for each profile or type, but having more qualifications will help your application.

Click here to view more details on eligibility criteria.

 

Technology for Enterprise Capability Upgrading (T-Up)

The T-Up program enables businesses to identify and implement Research and  Development (R&D) projects for up to two years, with the help of research scientists and engineers from the Agency of Science, Technology, and Research (A*Star).

Eligibility criteria:

  • Have a minimum of 30% local shareholding
  • Have no more than S$100 million group annual turnover or no more than 200 workers. 

Visit this page for more information about the T-Up program.

 

Global Ready Talent 

GRT aims to build a talent channel to support Singapore companies with their overseas expansion by exposing young Singaporeans to internships and job opportunities abroad.

Eligibility criteria:

  • Must be a member of the Action Community for Entrepreneurship (ACE).
  • Must be a tech startup that is less than five years old (based on the date of the establishment at the time of application).
  • Incorporated in Singapore.
  • Owns a minimum of 30% local share ownership (Singaporean or Singapore PR) and other business entities own less than 50% of the common stock.
  • Able to offer a minimum monthly stipend of $1,000 for university students and $800 for Polytechnic and The Institute of Technical Education (ITE) students.
  • Have an immediate plan to recruit in the next two months.

Visit the GRT page for more information about the requirements.

 

[email protected]

[email protected] aims to help fast-growing companies access the essential talent they need to grow and scale their business in Singapore and the region. This program is jointly managed by the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) and ESG.

Eligibility requirements:

  • You must have established a business entity in Singapore with ACRA, and
  • have a digital or technology offering as your core business product or service

Go to the [email protected] page for more detailed information about the requirements and apply for the program.

 

Innovation & Enterprise Fellowship Programme

ESG and the National Research Foundation will jointly manage the Innovation & Enterprise Fellowship Program (IFP), which aims to grow a pool of deep technology talent in Singapore who can support the commercialization of deep technology research and bring nascent technologies to market.

Eligibility criteria for fellows (those who fulfill one of these criteria can apply for the program):

  • A researcher, scientist, or engineer in an IHL or A*STAR RI;
  • employed within a technical role, with at least three years of work experience, or used within a business development role, with an aptitude in a STEM discipline, and at least three years of work experience;
  • a Ph.D. holder in a STEM discipline.

Eligibility criteria for partners:

  • An entity registered in Singapore;
  • have at least 30% local ownership/head office is based in Singapore;
  • the entity has either a high-tech accelerator or an equivalent innovation unit in Singapore;
  • partner can provide a clear training program that includes formal and on-the-job training in in-depth technology commercialization;
  • partner (or other portfolio company) is looking to hire high-tech commercialization talent and intends to recruit promising I&E fellows who have graduated from the program.

For more information about IFP, refer to this page.

 

Final Thoughts

With all the government grants we have mentioned above, finding out which ones apply to your business is crucial. It is best to seek expert advice from a corporate service provider who can analyze your business and provide guidance on the most suitable schemes and incentives for your business. Biz Atom can help you register your business, comply with government regulations, and guide you on which government support schemes you can apply for in Singapore.

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