Top 5 Grants Available for Entrepreneurs in Singapore

If you’re a budding business looking to make it big in the Garden City, then you’ve come to the right place. Singapore has everything, from tax incentives and cash grants to simple financing schemes. Recognizing that the nation thrives on innovation, Minister of State for Trade and Industry Mr. Koh Poh Koon launched Startup SG in early 2017 to collectively provide all the startup schemes that are currently available. The government has also started facilitated the entry of international entrepreneurs into Singapore through the new work pass scheme, EntrePass. 

But even beyond this, there’s a lot of support available for anyone looking to set up a business here and here is a list of the top 5:

1. Startup SG 
As mentioned before, this is an umbrella-scheme that has six main funds available for all kinds of entrepreneurs. 

    i. Startup SG Founder
        Targeted at first-time entrepreneurs, this scheme includes mentorship and start-up capital. It also matches $3 for every $1 raised by the entrepreneur! This is a great scheme for entrepreneurs who started off in other fields but are looking to set up a business in Singapore and need the resources and guidance to do so. Accredited Mentor Partners (AMP) are especially appointed in this scheme’s selection committee to pick candidates based on the novelty of the proposed business, its practicality, the strength of management team and potential market value. 

    ii. Startup SG Tech 
        Created to fund companies commercialize their propriety of technology at an early stage. This includes both Proof-of-Concept (POC) and Proof-of-Value (POV) grants depending on the development timeline of the technology. As most companies in Singapore target this particular grant, it is very competitive. 

    iii. Startup SG Equity 
        The Singapore government, in conjunction with a few third parties, invests in startups and encourages private-sector investments. Aimed at innovation, it mostly favors Singapore-based technology start-ups that have intellectual property and large potential in the global market. The investment ratio with the third parties is at 7:3 up until $250,000, beyond which a 1:1 ratio is maintained. The investment cap is set at $2 million. These investment ratios can vary depending on the kind and use of the proposed technology, structure of the technology firm and the main goals of the startup. This fund is managed by SPRING SEEDS Capital (SSC), which has pledged up to $100 million it, and looks favorably on tech startups in the field of Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering (AME), Health and Biomedical Sciences. 

    iv. Startup SG Accelerator 
        Aimed at incubators and accelerators working in strategic growth sectors, this grant provides financial and non-financial support. While funding covers partial operating expenses such as salaries, expenses in developmental programs for new products and services, the non-financial support includes the hiring of mentors and exports to facilitate the start-up, helping the company gain market access and lobby for business financing. 

    v. Startup SG Talent 
        Under this pillar, schemes like EntrePass, T-UP and SME Talent Program (STP) are available for start-ups. As mentioned before, EntrepAss is a work pass scheme that allows the entry of international entrepreneurs to complement local skill sets and create a more competitive and innovative start-up ecosystem. Technology for Enterprise Capability Upgrading (T-UP) focuses on helping business build R&D facilities and gives firms access to A*STAR’s Research Institute talent pools. Up to 70 percent of the secondment costs of research scientists and engineers are taken care of for up to 2 years by this scheme. SME Talent Program (STP) provides 70 percent subsidy in stipends for interns and also assists the development of human capital. 

    vi. Startup SG Loan
        These are essentially Government facilitated loans that are provided through other financial institutions to help start-ups with working capital, equipment and factory financing, and trade financing. They include SME Micro Loans (for companies with 10 or fewer employees), which are worth $100,000. SME Venture Loans are also available and are worth up to $5,000,000 for fast-growing companies Another impressive loan that’s part of this scheme is the SME Working Capital Loan, where start-ups can access working capital worth up to $300,000 between June 1, 2016, and May 31, 2019. Lastly, the SME Equipment and Factory Loans are also accessible and worth up to $15 million for equipment purchase, machinery or selected factory properties. 

2. Angel Investors Tax Deduction (AITD) Scheme

Angel investors will commit to a minimum of $100,000 for a qualifying startup. Such firms will also have a 50 percent deduction in investment by the end of the two-year holding period. There is an investment cap of $500,000 and a maximum tax deduction of $250,000.
3. Capabilities Development Grant (CDG) 

This is a grant designed for startups across 10 key business areas, who can enjoy subsidies up to 70 percent. The subsidies are designed to cover various project costs, such as consultancy, training, certification, equipment and software costs. 

4. Early Stage Venture Fund (ESVF)

ESVF was initiated by the National Framework for Innovation and Enterprise and invests $10 million on a matching basis. The main aim of this fund, facilitated by the National Research Foundation (NRF), is to mobilize corporate venture capital (VC) to invest in Singapore-based tech companies. More importantly, the company can choose to buy out NRF’s shares within five years by returning the capital with interest. 

5. Financial Sector Technology and Innovation (FSTI) Scheme 

This scheme is launched by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and provides for the creation of a more diverse business environment. For this purpose, MAS has committed $225 million over a five-year period. The most popular recipients of this scheme are financial institutions looking to set up innovation labs in Singapore. MAS also provides funding support of up to 50-70 percent of qualifying costs and a maximum of $200,000 for up to 18 months. 

While these are our top picks for grants available, there are several more waiting to be explored. You can find a more comprehensive list of other grants that are up for grabs here. But there is no contention with the fact that if you want to build your dream company, there’s nothing stopping you in Singapore! So go out there and make the best of these opportunities!

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