7 Start-Up Government Grants in Singapore (and How to Apply)

Last updated on May 26, 2020

Man holding business grant cheque

If you are an individual keen on starting a new company in Singapore, or if you are currently running a Singapore-registered startup, you might be interested to know what grants you may be able to tap on. This article will cover 7 of them:

  1. For First-Time Entrepreneurs: Startup SG Founder
  2. For Tech Startups: Startup SG Tech
  3. Improving Productivity: Enterprise Development Grant (EDG)
  4. IT Improvements: Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG)
  5. For Social Enterprises: VentureForGood (VFG) Grant
  6. For Tourism-Related Businesses: Business Improvement Fund (BIF)
  7. Hiring PMETs: P-Max

The following infographic provides a quick summary of the 7 start-up grants:

infographic

(Click on the image to download it in a new tab).

1. For First-Time Entrepreneurs: Startup SG Founder

Startup SG was launched in 2017 as a platform for entrepreneurs to access local support schemes. One of the six Startup SG pillars, Startup SG Founder is the most relevant for first-time entrepreneurs. Assistance under Startup SG is offered by Enterprise Singapore.

Startup SG Founder provides first-time entrepreneurs with mentorship and a startup capital grant of up to $30,000 on a co-matching arrangement. What this means is that the scheme matches $3 to every $1 raised by the entrepreneur for up to $30,000. Therefore, to receive the maximum value of the $30,000 grant, the entrepreneurs themselves need to raise and commit $10,000 to the business.

The application process for Startup SG Founder is as such:

  1. You will have to contact one of the Accredited Mentor Partners (AMPs) listed here and submit your application directly to them.
  2. Your selected AMP will then evaluate your application based on the uniqueness of the business concept, feasibility of the business model, strength of the management team, and potential market value.
  3. Within 5 working days, you will be informed of the result.
  4. If your application is approved, Enterprise Singapore will issue a Letter of Offer to you, and your AMP will mentor you over a 12-month period. The grant is disbursed after your business has met certain milestones.

Do note that AMPs may take up to 50% equity in your startup. Therefore, you should approach the AMPs for more details on their equity terms.

You can get more information on this grant at the Startup SG Founder page.

2. For Tech Startups: Startup SG Tech

Also under Startup SG, Startup SG Tech is targeted at tech startups and provides successful applicants with early-stage funding for the commercialisation of proprietary technology. Tech startups can apply for either a Proof-of-Concept (POC) grant of up to $250,000 or a Proof-of-Value (POV) grant of up to $500,000, depending on the stage of development of their technology or concept.

A POC Project is one which is still at the conceptualisation stage, and the technical/scientific viability of your concept still needs to be tested. On the other hand, a POV Project is one where you already have a technically/scientifically viable concept, and you want to develop a working prototype.

There are 3 stages to the application process for Startup SG Tech:

  1. Download and complete the Registration of Interest form here, and email the completed form, along with a summary of your proposed project to enquiry@enterprisesg.gov.sg.
  2. If your project is eligible, Enterprise Singapore will request for you to submit a formal application, comprising of a full business proposal and cost breakdown of your project. Your application will then be evaluated for its innovativeness, technical feasibility and commercialisation potential.
  3. Shortlisted applicants will present their proposals to a final evaluation panel of industry experts.

Once again, if you are offered the grant, bear in mind that the grant will carry an equity component where Enterprise Singapore will have the right to exercise a share subscription. To maintain financial discipline, you will also be required to increase your paid-up capital by an additional 10% and 20% for the POC and POV grants respectively.

Visit the Startup SG Tech page for more information on the grant as well as the application process.

3. Improving Productivity: Enterprise Development Grant (EDG)

The Enterprise Development Grant (EDG) is a programme managed by Enterprise Singapore. The grant is aimed at supporting projects that help startups (and Singapore businesses in general) strengthen their business foundations, pursue innovation and improve productivity, and expand into overseas markets.

The EDG  covers up to 30% – 70% of qualifying project costs, depending on whether your business is a Small Medium Enterprise (SME), and whether your costs are related to software and equipment.

The application process for the EDG is as follows:

  1. Identify the key project category you wish to apply for (Core Capabilities, Innovation and Productivity, or Market Access) followed by the suitable service providers to support your project.
  2. Sign in to the Business Grants Portal with your CorpPass account and submit your project proposal according to the relevant project proposal templates which can be found here.
  3. Your application for the grant will be assessed based on project scope, project outcomes, and competency of your service provider. Your application will be processed within 8 – 12 weeks from the time you submit your application.
  4. If you are awarded the grant, your company will receive a Letter of Offer indicating the conditions of support and the amount of grant awarded.

You can visit the Enterprise Singapore as well as the IMDA websites for more information about the grant.

4. IT Improvements: Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG)

The Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG) supports companies interested in adopting IT solutions and equipment in order to enhance their existing business processes and improve productivity. The PSG covers up to 70% of the costs of investing in government-approved long-term technology solutions such as Customer Relationship Management solutions and Human Resource Management systems.

To apply, you will have to go through the following steps:

  1. Access the list of approved IT solutions and equipment, via the Tech Depot on the SME Portal, to identify if any of them suit your needs.
  2. Get a quotation for your chosen IT solution or equipment from either a pre-approved vendor, or a vendor that you sourced for yourself.
  3. Submit an application for the PSG on the Business Grants Portal with your CorpPass account.

More information about this grant can be found at the Enterprise Singapore website.

5. For Social Enterprises: VentureForGood (VFG) Grant

The VFG Grant is available to new and existing social enterprises who need funds either to start up or expand their operations. It is provided by the Singapore Centre for Social Enterprise (raiSE) and supported by the Ministry of Social and Family Development. Interested applicants can apply for up to $300,000 in grants.

Here are the steps to apply for the VFG Grant:

  1. To apply, email your pitch deck to vfg@raise.sg.
  2. Within 3 weeks, raiSE will arrange a 1-on-1 consultation with you to learn more about your application.
  3. You will then be notified of whether your application has been shortlisted within 3 weeks of the consultation.
  4. If your application has been shortlisted, you will be required to submit a detailed proposal with financial projections for the final evaluation. You will also have to undergo interviews and presentations. Your application will be assessed based on whether your social enterprise has a compelling social objective, a viable business proposition, and a committed team. This final evaluation can take between 3 – 4 months.
  5. If your application is approved, your company must be incorporated as well as registered as a raiSE member in order to receive the grant disbursement.

Your social enterprise should be addressing a local social gap/need in one or more of the provided outcome areas to be eligible. Some of these areas include the provision of employment opportunities, or bridging a social gap in the areas of mental health, and caregiving. The full list of outcome areas can be found at the raiSE Singapore website along with the link to apply for the grant.

6. For Tourism-Related Businesses: Business Improvement Fund (BIF)

For Singapore-registered businesses in the tourism sector, the BIF is targeted at encouraging technology innovation and adoption, and the redesign of business models and processes in order to improve productivity and competitiveness. The BIF is offered by the Singapore Tourism Board.

Depending on the size of your business, the level of support provided by the BIF will vary. Successful Small-to-Medium Enterprise (SME) applicants will receive funding support of up to 70% of qualifying costs, which include:

  • Training costs
  • Hardware and software costs
  • Travel costs
  • Internal manpower costs
  • Third-party project-related costs

Successful non-SME applicants will receive funding support of up to 50% of qualifying costs.

There are two steps to the application process:

  1. Pre-application: Interested applicants have to send an executive summary of the proposed project to STB_Incentives@stb.gov.sg to be advised on whether the proposed project is eligible for the BIF.
  2. Application: If your proposed project is eligible, the second step is to submit your application on the Business Grants Portal using your CorpPass account along with your project proposal and the relevant quotations for the qualifying costs.

Proposed projects will be assessed on how they improve productivity and competitiveness of tourism companies. More information can be found at the Singapore Tourism Board website.

7. Hiring PMETs: P-Max

P-Max is an initiative by Workforce SG that aims to match hiring SMEs with job-seeking Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians (PMETs). Job-seeking PMETs will be vetted and then placed into suited positions in hiring SMEs by P-Max Programme Managers. Alternatively, the SME can send a newly hired PMET for the P-Max programme.

The newly hired PMETs will then attend a 2/3-day workshop, whereas supervisors from the SME will attend a 1-day workshop. Thereafter, the P-Max Programme Managers will follow-up with the SMEs and newly trained PMETs for a period of 6 months to monitor their performance, and to assist in making sure that the practices taught at the Workshops are applied.

If your company successfully completes the 6-month follow-up and retains your new hires, you will be eligible for a one-off grant of $5,000.

To apply, you will have to contact the respective Programme Managers or send in your interest at this link.

More information about P-Max, as well as the list and contact details of the Programme Managers, can be found at the Workforce SG website (click on the “How to apply?” tab).

Need Extra Help?

Most of the start-up grants discussed above require you to have already incorporated your company before you can start applying for them. If you haven’t already done so, you can consider engaging a corporate services firm to incorporate your company on your behalf. It is not easy to set up a new business and often, there are many legal formalities in the initial stage which require appropriate attention and adherence to.

A corporate services firm provides business support services to companies, including company incorporation. It can assist you with business registration as well as the filing of important documents to comply with the legal requirements of incorporating a company.

Most crucially, a corporate services firm can help you manage your compliance deadlines and requirements. With a dedicated corporate services firm handling such legal requirements, you can better direct your resources towards the actual running of your start-up and realising your goals.

If you are interested in engaging a corporate services firm, you can find out more and get in touch with us at this page.

After you have successfully set up your company and applied for the relevant grants above, you should take note of the regulatory and compliance requirements mandated under Singapore law. Some of these requirements include having a registered office and appointing a company secretary. The corporate services firm of your choice can also provide corporate secretary services, and help you manage your requirements related to the grants.

Additionally, you may wish to consult a corporate lawyer, either to navigate the many forms and requirements involved with incorporating a company or for legal support with specific tasks like intellectual property protection and reviewing and drafting contractual agreements.

Get in touch with our experienced corporate lawyers here.

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