A Realistic Review on Government Grants in Singapore

So much as been written, blogged, published on the web about Singapore Government grants from so many vendors and consultants alike up to ad nauseam, that it just boggles and confuses SME businesses. For the business owners who really needs it, the question that comes up usually is which is the best scheme for his/her business and which is the easiest.

It is with this thought that we like to give it straight to the business owner(s), stick to the facts and the actuality of it all, based on what we know and what our clients have uncovered along their own grant application journeys. Though there are alot of grant schemes in Singapore, but in truth, its not really applicable for all.

Here are the url links to glance through the lists of government grants:

https://www.smeportal.sg/content/smeportal/en/resources/useful-links/business-grants-portal.html

https://www.smeportal.sg/content/smeportal/en/moneymatters/grants.html

There are indeed many, many different types of grants available, but to the most average SME business owner(s), typically at most we can gauge that there are at least 3 grants that they will be able to explore, namely: ICV, PIC, CDG, and possibly an additional grant that may be specifically relevant to their industry or expansion plans. So for the benefit of the mass majority, we will just focus on the three main grants:-

#1 – ICV Grants

Probably the most simplest of all, not too much work required for documentary work but still need some decent proposal writing skills to get through it. The grant is only $5,000 but the nice thing is that you can get it twice. Each SME can apply up to a maximum of two vouchers to implement pre-scoped Integrated Solutions out of the available eight vouchers for each SME.  But at $5k per voucher, the solutions are at best, general in nature, and not complex enough to address to the real overall needs of the SME business. It is useful only to offer specific solutions that addresses specific functions eg. CRM, Payroll, simple HRM modular solutions, and solutions are being restricted to those offered by listed Integrated Solutions vendors on the Spring Singapore list.

Please note that for Integrated Solutions, each SME can apply up to a maximum of 2 vouchers per capability area for supported services. SMEs who wish to further upgrade their capabilities in any of their areas may tap on the Capability Development Grant (CDG).

Consultancy Projects support the following capability areas:

  • Financial Management
  • Human Resources
  • Innovation
  • Productivity

Each SME is entitled to a maximum of eight vouchers. Once the SME have selected a project, the selected vendor of the project must agree to undertake the SME project before the SME can submit in the ICV application online. Each ICV project must be completed before submitting a new application. The duration for each project should not exceed six months.

Recommendation: Get into this grant for specifically targetted quick/focused solutions eg. Integrated Type of solutions eg CRM, POS, Scheduling / Appointment solutions, wireless paging system, queue management, etc. Caveat Emptor: Vendor solutions may or may not, be expandable or able to scale with company growth. Moreover, SMEs are restricted to only the approved vendorlist by SPRING Singapore, so business owners should really understand what they will be signing up for and think really hard for their long-term goals instead of short-term achievements.

#2 – PIC Grants

Also another rather simple-to-apply grant, even more simpler than ICV if the grant is to specifically focus on IT equipment purchasings. Business owners can do this by themselves via IRAS online portal. The same can be done for software solutions purchases as well. It has been way too successful so much so that it has been reduced from 60% grant down on 40% grant from 1st Aug 2016. In addition, it will end on FY2018, meaning at the financial year end closing for the business calendar year of 2017.

Recommendation: Get into this grant for any IT-related equipment and devices. May possibly be used to cover excess software-related solution costs (please consult your grants specialists).

#3 – CDG Grants (Capability Development Grants)

The Capability and Development Grant (CDG) is a financial assistance programme that helps SME’s develop capabilities across 10 development areas. This scheme is run by the government multi-agency EnterpriseOne, which is overall managed by SPRING Singapore. Although the SPRING’s website states that CDG funds up to 70 per cent of qualifying project costs, do note that SPRING’s enhanced funding support of up to 70% would be effective for 3 years until 31st March 2018. These projects that the SME’s undertake are large scale upgrading projects in areas such as product development, process improvement, productivity and technology innovation initiatives.

For projects under the development area of Productivity Improvement, you will be able to apply for software and IT systems which increases your company’s productivity. Some examples of claimable software are Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Human Resource (HR) Management, and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP).

Now, when it comes to Technology Innovations-related category for CDG, with effect from 1 October 2016, IMDA is the appointed agency by SPRING Singapore to administer the Capability Development Grant – Technology Innovation (CDG-TI) for all ICT-related projects. The programme aims to increase the level of technology innovation in local enterprises, supporting companies that undertake projects to develop innovative technology products or solutions.

Eligibility Criteria

The Programme is open to SMEs that are registered or incorporated in Singapore with:

  • Minimum 30% local shareholding AND;
  • Company’s Group annual sales turnover of not more than S$100 million OR;
  • Company’s Group employment size of not more than 200 workers*.

* Annual sales turnover and employment size will be computed on a group basis (i.e. all levels up for corporate shareholders holding >50% of total shareholding of the applicant company and any subsequent corporate parents, and subsidiaries all levels down). 

Each project proposal will be assessed by the programme office on a case-by-case basis, on how your project will contribute to measurable productivity gain for your company. Realistically, from what we have seen and learnt from other vendors and clients experiences, on average the grants approved were in the 50%+/- funding range, this may be in part dependent on which category that your application may be addressed, so try not get your hopes high of achieving the 70% funding mark.

If your company’s Capability Development Grant application is approved, you will receive a Letter of Offer which will explain the claims submission and when to submit claims. The claims are submitted on a reimbursement basis, which means your company will make payment to the project consultant or vendor before receiving the claim amount from SPRING.

What are the qualifying projects?

Area of DevelopmentWhat is Claimable
Brand developmentDevelop a stronger company’s mission, vision, values and strategy. Enhance your competitiveness by differentiating your products and services from competitors.
Business excellenceStrengthen your management practices through business excellence, which are key to higher productivity and revenue growth.
Business innovationDevelop innovative capabilities, and integrating design thinking as a business strategy for the growth of your company
Enhancing quality standardsAdopt international or industry standards for your business. Includes manpower-related and training expenses, consultancy and professional services.
Financial managementImprove and maintain good management of your financial resources to develop strong financial resilience.
Human capital developmentStrengthen your HR management practices and build stronger companies. Create a strong foundation for your business by cultivating your corporate culture, and retaining staff.
Intellectual property and FranchisingManage and protect your of Intellectual Property (IP), and develop franchising systems to replicate successful business models and gain a competitive edge.
Productivity improvementImprove your business processes and optimise resource allocation for better productivity gains.
Service excellenceAdopt service innovation for your business to increase service standards, for a customer-centered service.
Technology InnovationStrengthen your technology innovation initiatives to enhance your products and services.

Application Process

You will need to identify the relevant development area your project is on. Call EnterpriseOne if you need help finding which area best suits your business needs, their customer service officers are knowledgeable and very helpful.

These are the pre-application documents you need to prepare:

  1. Latest ACRA Search or Instant Information (that is within the past 6 months) of Company and Corporate Shareholders if applicable.
  2. Latest Audited Financial Statements (that is within the past 1 year) of Company and Consolidated Financial Statement of ultimate parent company, if applicable. Audited Financial Statements refers to financial statements which have been prepared and audited by a Certified Public Accountant in Singapore.
  3. SME company’s Project Proposal. Usually SMEs are strongly recommended to engage a grants specialist consultant to write up the project proposal.
  4. Relevant Proof of Quotation for SME project cost items. Relevant Proof of Quotation is an official quotation document prepared by the project consultant or vendor.

Recommendation: There is a CDG-Lite grant that is for projects below $30,000 that does not impose very heavy documentation, nevertheless it is advisable to engage a grant specialist to manage that for SMEs. Typically, CDG grants are best appliable for IT projects exceeding $30,000. Be prepared to do the heavy documentation work plus engage a good grant specialist consultant.

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Doji Media Pte Ltd‘s core professional service is to help SME businesses to elevate, transform and incorporate into the digital space; thus adopting an E-Commerce / E-Business profile for a global market audience. The company’s core services includes providing customised software development solutions tailored to meet the individual requirements of clients in their respective vertical industries in Singapore. Apart from web design and development, Doji Media is also offers web cloud services, Mobile Apps development and other web-enabled productivity solutions for customised POS (Retail / F&B Point-of-Sales), CRM (Customer Relationship Management), Warehousing Inventory Management, Fleet Management and many other ERP business solutions.

Cohesively, Doji Media’s resident professional ‘government grant scheme’ consultants will assist local clients in navigating through the numerous available grants, and claim funding support for automation technology, development projects & training, in line with their web-enablement solutions. They have an in-depth understanding of various productivity & innovation initiatives from numerous related government grant schemes available. Thus, the company can help clients to maximise and enjoy more benefits from these variety of funding schemes, to stay productive, cost effective, and competitive in their respective industry.

We follow the best practices and methodology for our implementations.  Do get in touch with us for a free business consultation with absolutely no obligations on your part, click at Contact Us.

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