Get a leg up from the government
 Singapore companies can tap into a range of government schemes and incentives to help them ride out the uncertainty and thrive in 2019. 


As a small economy heavily influenced by the winds of global trade, Singapore faces an uncertain economic outlook in a year marked by the possibility of a trade war between two of its largest trading partners, China and the United States. Despite the backdrop of uncertainty, local companies that remain focused on strong business fundamentals will be able to weather the storms and perhaps even thrive in 2019.

The Singapore government is committed to helping businesses improve their products, explore new markets and raise employee productivity. There is help available for local companies to enhance their competitiveness and expand their business operations, including schemes. Here are some initiatives that you should seriously consider if you are a local company looking to grow in the upcoming year.

1. Tap on technology

Companies live or die depending on their ability to constantly innovate in response to changing customer needs and competitor behaviour. However, investing in innovation is a long-term priority that can often be superseded by more immediate, short-term goals.

To reduce the barriers to innovation, the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) has put in place several programmes to encourage local businesses to think long-term and embark on research and development (R&D).

One such programme is the Research Incentive Scheme for Companies (RISC), a grant which encourages the development of research and development capabilities and technologies through the support of projects in the areas of science and technology.

To encourage the commercialisation of intellectual property (IP) generated by R&D activity, EDB also has a special tax incentive known as the IP Development Incentive (IDI). Under the IDI scheme, companies that are deemed to have made significant investments to the Singapore economy or the advancement of local capabilities are eligible for a reduced corporate tax rate of either a five or ten percent on royalties or other income from the commercial exploitation of qualifying IP rights. The IDI incorporates the modified nexus approach, an international standard set by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

2. Going global

Once research has been turned into a viable technology, the next step is to seek out new markets for the resulting products. This crucial step is often a stumbling block for many local entrepreneurs, who may struggle to adapt to business conditions outside of Singapore.

Enterprise Singapore, formed in April 2018 from the merger of International Enterprise Singapore and SPRING Singapore, has made it its mission to grow local enterprises. Internationalisation is one of its key priorities as this is a strategy that companies need to embark on if they want to scale up and expand. Companies can tap the agency’s market knowledge and connections through its 36 offices worldwide.

Those taking their first steps overseas can make use of the Market Readiness Assistance grant (MRA) to defray costs for overseas market set-up, finding partners and market promotion. Its Plug and Play Network also helps ease initial challenges that SMEs may face when going into an unknown market. Companies can tap the network of partners across Southeast Asia, China and India, to access pre-entry market advisory services, business-matching solutions and market set-up support (via co-working spaces). Companies who are looking to deepen their global presence can make use of the Enterprise Development Grant (EDG), which replaced the Capability Development Grant (CDG) and Global Company Partnership (GCP) Grant, for their growth and transformation needs.

Last but not least, companies looking to go global can leverage the Global Innovation Alliance (GIA), an initiative setting up Innovation Launchpads in overseas markets. These Innovation Launchpads are intended to help entrepreneurs gain overseas experience and build networks in innovative countries such as Thailand and Germany.


3. Supercharge your staff

Last but not least, it takes manpower to make the most of new opportunities presented by innovative products and overseas markets. To help your employees stay relevant and competitive, look no further than Workforce Singapore (WSG), a statutory board under the Ministry of Manpower which has the mandate to oversee the transformation of the local workforce and develop a manpower pipeline to support industry growth.

Under WSG’s Professional Conversion Programme (PCP), employers can get access to talent and train new talents in growth areas of the business. There are currently over 100 PCPs to convert mid-career talents from one sector to another. Employers can get salary support as well as course fee support of up to 90%. In addition, companies can also tap on the Career Support Programme (CSP) and get salary support for hiring eligible Singaporeans.