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UOB unveils financial support programme to help SMEs innovate, go global

TO help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) innovate and go international, United Overseas Bank (UOB) has launched a programme to provide them with financial solutions.

The bank, through its financing specialists, will offer support for firms through working capital loans, equipment financing and cross-border cash management and treasury solutions, it announced in a press statement on Monday.

UOB will expand its ecosystem of strategic partners to include technology specialists, such as those from Enterprise Singapore's Centres of Innovation, to help SMEs upgrade and scale their technology capabilities.

Once in the programme, SMEs will be guided through four stages, supported by UOB and its strategic partners:

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1. Diagnosis: Technology experts from sector-specific centres of innovation will help SMEs identify areas for process improvements that can be enabled by or transformed through the use of technology.

2. Solutions: UOB and its various ecosystem partners will help the SMEs acquire the technology or equipment needed to simplify or to enhance their operations.

3. Implementation: SMEs will be given guidance on how to implement or to install the new technology solution or equipment.

4. Internationalisation: SMEs will receive support either to replicate their innovation efforts as they venture overseas or for their existing overseas operations.

"As part of this new programme, we are equipping our bankers with the knowledge they need to help more SMEs seize the opportunities of Industry 4.0. By tapping our industry expertise, sector specialisation and partnerships further, including our collaboration with Enterprise Singapore, we hope to help SMEs work smarter through the implementation of advanced technology and equipment," said UOB's head of group commercial banking Eric Tham.

He added that after the SMEs have "successfully upgraded their technology capabilities" in Singapore, the bank will "support them in replicating their efforts in other markets".

According to the bank, 25 SMEs in the logistics and transportation sectors are the first to participate in the programme, which will later expand to cover the food and beverage, precision engineering, electronics and info-communications sectors, which are among the government-identified sectors for the Industry Transformation Programme.