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What are the relevant schemes of the government’s 2021 budget to support enterprise innovation?

Author: Dr. Wang /Co-founder of Shared IP Manager Service Provider: HIPPSUN Pte Ltd / 2021 April 8

Deputy Prime Minister, Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies, and Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat delivered the 2021 Budget Statement in Parliament on 16 February 2021 and announced various schemes to support Singaporeans, workers and businesses.

The focus of Budget 2021 is on Emerging Stronger Together. This is the window of opportunity to position ourselves for a different world, post-COVID-19. We will act to secure a better future, with innovative businesses and good jobs for Singaporeans. Three key enablers – the spirit of innovation and enterprise, financial capital, and human capital – will help us to create innovative businesses, good and meaningful jobs and opportunities, rising incomes, and confidence about our collective future. The spirit of innovation and enterprise ranks first. The government spares no effort in enterprise innovation. Below, I will summarize for you the relevant schemes in the 2021 fiscal budget that support enterprise innovation.

Enterprise Development Grant (EDG)

  • Businesses can tap on support for projects in three key areas - core capabilities, innovation and productivity, and internationalisation.

  • Enhanced support to cover up to 80% of qualifying costs has been extended until 31 Mar 2022.

  • Unionised enterprises and Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) partners under the Labour Movement can qualify for an additional 10% funding, subject to NTUC-e2i’s endorsement.

Enterprise Singapore Overseas Centres

Businesses can tap on the support of Enterprise Singapore’s in-market presence at over 35 international locations to generate new business leads, find business partners and acquire new technologies and capabilities.

Global Innovation Alliance (GIA)

Businesses can gain access to overseas partners for co-innovation and market expansion. Under GIA phase 2, we will scale up the network of overseas partners and expand the scope of GIA to include ESG’s co-innovation programmes (CIPs). CIPs are cross-border platforms that connect Singapore-based enterprises with overseas partners.

100% Investment Allowance

  • To continue supporting businesses, especially SMEs, to embark on largescale automation projects, the 100% Investment Allowance (IA) will be extended for another two years until 31 Mar 2023. Projects that receive the Enterprise Development Grant under the Productivity and Innovation thrust may be eligible for the 100% IA, subject to conditions.

  • The 100% IA will be provided on the amount of approved capital expenditure, net of any grants received for the same qualifying expenditure.

Digital Leaders Programme

Enables promising, high-potential local companies to become digital leaders by equipping them with digital capabilities and talent to transform their business models and capture new growth opportunities.

Chief Technology Officer-as-a-Service (CTOaaS)

Supports SMEs to uncover their digitalisation needs and transform their business operations through professional IT consultancies offering end-to-end digital advice, from digital consultancy tailored to business needs, to downstream project implementation.

A*STAR Partners’ Centre @ Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP) (A*PC)

  • A*PC supports “regional-ready” Singapore enterprises as they embark on R&D and commercialisation in China via Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP), with the aim to capture opportunities in Jiangsu and the greater Yangtze River Delta (YRD) region.

  • A*PC’s partner companies can leverage A*STAR’s scientific expertise and capabilities to build R&D competencies and co-develop technologies with A*STAR in Singapore, focusing on areas such as biomedical sciences, nanotechnology, and advanced manufacturing, before productising these technologies for the China market. These companies can accelerate the pace of their R&D and innovation by tapping on A*PC’s facilities and laboratories.

A*STAR Collaborative Commerce Marketplace (ACCM)

An online platform which businesses can use to find partners, solutions and network for innovation opportunities.

Centres of Innovation (COIs)

Supports businesses in the development and testing of new technology products, through provision of technical consultancy services, access to specialty equipment, and IP translation services.

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) looking to embark on technology innovation can tap on an array of ready resources available at one of the nine Centres of Innovation (COIs). From laboratory facilities to consultancy and training courses, you can receive assistance in developing and testing technology projects.

The centres are set up in partnership with selected polytechnics and research institutes. Each centre is a one-stop hub which specialises in a different industry. Together, the nine COIs cover aquaculture, energy, electronics, supply chain management, environment and water, food, materials, and precision engineering industries.

Corporate Venture Launchpad

Provides co-funding for corporates to build new ventures through pre-qualified venture studios.

Corporate Venture Launchpad is a programme designed to enable corporates to launch a new venture from Singapore within six months. They will partner with venture studios that have been qualified by EDB New Ventures to have best-in-class expertise, proven track records and diverse venture-building offerings.

Who is it for?

This programme aims to support large, established corporates that are new to the corporate venturing journey in Singapore to:

  • Build their new ventures quickly and effectively

  • Create new growth and keep ahead of disruption through building new ventures with innovative products, services and business models

  • Join a growing corporate venturing movement, where corporates build new ventures that have strong potential to scale from Singapore to become globally competitive businesses

Digital Services Lab

Businesses partner with IMDA, tech providers and research institutions to co-develop digital solutions to address sector-wide challenges.

Digital Services Lab (DSL) aims to strengthen the competitiveness of Singapore’s services sector with emerging technologies, and proliferating the innovations into the ecosystem. Such innovations address market gaps or problem statements that usually require the collective efforts of agencies and industry partners, namely:

  • Those that do not have clear industry champions;

  • High-risk implementations with no existing, or yet-to-be proven solutions; or

  • Where there is a scarcity of talent in emerging technologies to work on.

Through working with multiple industry stakeholders, including local research community and tech providers, DSL co-develops solutions using emerging technologies, with tech providers deploying them as market-ready solutions. In the process, DSL builds new technological capabilities and trains a pipeline of tech talents.

Headstart Programme

Improves SMEs’ access to intellectual property (IP) by providing royalty free and exclusive licences for up to 36 months, for IP co-developed with A*Star.

Innovation Advisors Programme*

Businesses are guided by innovation mentors who will advise them in the development of innovation strategies, new products and solutions to address market needs, and connect businesses to technology and business partners.

*Formerly known as Innovation Agents Programme

IPI Singapore

Online marketplace and consultancy for businesses to connect with providers of suitable technology IP and demand-led innovation opportunities for business needs.

IPI is an innovation catalyst that creates opportunities for enterprises to grow beyond boundaries. As a subsidiary of Enterprise Singapore, IPI accelerates the innovation process of enterprises through access to its global innovation ecosystem and advisory services.

Intellectual Property (IP) Schemes

Businesses can access subsidised programmes including IP audit, IP strategy advisory, IP analytics and business/ legal clinics to accelerate translation of technologies, brands and IP to the market.

National Innovation Challenges (NIC)

The National Innovation Challenge (NIC) is Singapore’s answer to large and complex problems facing the country. The NIC seeks to harness Singapore’s formidable multi-disciplinary research capabilities to develop practical, impactful solutions to national challenges in such areas as energy resilience, environmental sustainability and urban systems. In addition to improving the lives of Singaporeans, these solutions also carry the potential of commercial spinoffs both at home and abroad.

Open Innovation Network (OIN)

Gateway to open innovation challenges, news and resources for businesses to learn more about open innovation, find new opportunities to develop new products with market-fit, and address their business needs.

Open Innovation Platform (OIP)

Provides a structured process to support businesses and Trade Associations & Chambers in identifying possible areas of digital innovation and matching them with solution providers. Platform has been enhanced with new features to enable better matching, testing and development.

Operation and Technology Roadmap (OTR)

  • Initiative that supports companies in mapping their current and emerging technology needs to support future growth. Companies that work with A*STAR to develop their OTR roadmaps are eligible for a grant from ESG that will cover up to 70% of the qualifying cost incurred.

  • Consortium OTR (COTR) is also available to cater to the needs of a group of companies.

PACT Programme

Supports mutually beneficial collaborations between companies driven by a lead enterprise, to build capabilities, innovate and pursue new business opportunities in local and overseas markets. Funds up to 70% of qualifying costs.

Singapore Institute of Food and Biotechnology Innovation (SIFBI)

  • SIFBI undertakes R&D and innovation in food, to support Singapore’s effort to produce 30 per cent of its nutritional needs locally by 2030 (“30 by 30” goal) by boosting local production capabilities and tap opportunities from global demand for safer, healthier, and more sustainable food.

  • SIFBI brings together research capabilities across A*STAR covering biotransformation, fermentation, nutrition, food process engineering, agri-food technology, alternative protein, waste valorisation, and safety research under one roof.

  • The institute officially opened on 1 April 2020.

Tech Access

Businesses can access a comprehensive suite of A*STAR’s advanced manufacturing equipment and biotech/ biomedical scientific services, under the guidance of technical experts.

Technology for Enterprise Capability Upgrading (T-Up) Programme

Businesses can get access to talent from A*STAR’s Research Institutes for up to two years to help build in-house R&D capabilities through projects defined and managed by companies. Up to 70% of secondment costs is covered by ESG.

Startup SG

Startups and entrepreneurs can assess a wide range of support, including:

- Special Situation Fund for Startups (SSFS)

$285 million has been set aside for the Government to invest in selected startups with private sector co-investors on a 1:1 basis. This is to sustain startup innovation and entrepreneurship activities during the COVID-19 pandemic. The scheme will end when the funds are fully committed, or by 31 October 2021, whichever is earlier.

- Startup SG Equity

Stimulates private sector investments into Singapore-based technology startups with sound intellectual property and global market potential.

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

  • Co-invest with independent, qualified third-party investors into eligible startups;

  • Invest in selected venture capital firms that will in turn invest into eligible startups, through a fund-of-funds approach.

- Startup SG Founder “Start” Track

Provides mentorship and startup capital grant to first-time entrepreneurs with innovative business ideas.

The “Start” track targets entrepreneurs who are ready to start and have a viable business plan. It is an enhancement of the previous Startup SG Founders Grant, raising grant capital to $50,000.

What Is The Eligibility?

To apply for the Startup SG Founders Grant “Start” Track, you need to fulfil the following criteria:

  • You must form a team that has at least 3 Singapore Citizens (SC) or Singapore Permanent Residents (SPRs), who are the main applicants of the grant

  • ·At least 2 of the 3 main applicants are first-time entrepreneurs

  • The main applicants who are first-time entrepreneurs must hold a minimum of 30% equity in the company together

  • The company must have a minimum 51% SC/PR shareholdings

  • The company must not be incorporated for more than 6 months of at the point of application to the AMP

  • The main applicant(s) not be employed full time by another employer and must be a key decision maker(s) in the company

  • The main applicant(s) must not have received any funding for the proposed business idea from another government organisation

  • The proposed business idea must not be in the areas of: 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.

How To Apply?

You must apply through an Accredited Mentor Partners (AMP) who will then guide you through the process as well as recommend you to Enterprise Singapore (ESG) who makes the final approval of the grant.

- Startup SG Founder “Train” Track

Venture Builder and Accredited Mentor Partners (‘VB-AMPs’) with strong track records of venture building to provide 3-month Venture Building (VB) programmes for local aspiring entrepreneurs.

- Startup SG Infrastructure

Provides physical spaces (e.g. LaunchPad @one-north) for startups to grow, experiment and flourish.

LaunchPad @ one-north is master developed by JTC, and is an initiative supported by A*STAR, IMDA, NRF and Enterprise Singapore. It is a vibrant and nurturing environment for startups and enablers in the biomedical sciences, infocomm, media, urban solutions, electronics and engineering industries. The 6.5-hectare site, located within one-north, provides startups close proximity to multi-disciplinary R&D environment which includes knowledge-based companies, institutes of higher learning and research institutes that are at the forefront of innovation.

The presence of diverse startups, incubators, venture capitalists and professional services in LaunchPad forms a community that generates ample opportunities for knowledge sharing and collaboration. The strong networks and partnerships helps to accelerate the growth of startups in LaunchPad and facilitate their success in the marketplace.

- Startup SG Talent

Supports startups’ talent needs.

The Startup SG pillar highlights schemes that foster a more conducive environment for promising global talent to set up innovative businesses in Singapore, and for startups to attract talent to be part of their team.

Schemes under this pillar include: EntrePass, T-Up, Global Ready Talent Programme (GRT) and Tech@SG Programme.

· Startup SG Tech

Provides funding for startups to carry out Proof-of-Concept and Proof-of-Value projects for proprietary innovative technologies.


Your solution must:

  1. Clearly demonstrate how science/technology is applied;

  2. 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.);

  3. Lead to or build on proprietary know-how/IP;

  4. Be commercially viable.

Applicants should be:

Startup Companies

  • Registered for less than 5 years at time of grant application;

  • At least 30% local shareholdings;

  • Company’s group annual sales turnover is not more than $100 million or group employment size is not more than 200 workers; and

  • Core activities to be carried out in Singapore.

Qualifying Projects

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.

You should clearly explain the innovative science or technology concept behind the solution. Individual applicants from public sector research institutes must demonstrate entrepreneurial commitment to continue their technology commercialisation work upon successful completion of the project.


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.

You need to show the technology concept you are building on, and the commercial merit to be validated. You will also be required to demonstrate proof-of-interest from a potential customer or 3rd party investor, and the necessary business competencies to execute the project.

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:

  1. Advanced Manufacturing / Robotics

  2. Biomedical Sciences and Healthcare

  3. Clean Technology

  4. Information & Communications Technologies

  5. New Industries

  6. Precision Engineering

  7. Transport Engineering / Engineering Services

  8. Food Science and Technology

Points to note:

· Project must not have commenced at the time of application.

· Work should be done by the applicant (company), in Singapore, unless otherwise justified.

HIPPSUN helps SMEs create IP and intangible assets for business growth. To learn how you can leverage government’s 2021 budget to support your innovation and fund your first patent, book a complimentary chat session on your intangible assets with us today.

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