ENTERPRISE Singapore (ESG) will raise the grant support of the Startup SG Founder programme to S$50,000 from September onwards, in order to help extend the runway for startups to develop their business ideas in a challenging business climate, Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing said on Thursday.
This follows Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat’s announcement on Monday, where he said the government will pump up to S$150 million into the programme to continue spurring innovation and entrepreneurship during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Currently, the scheme provides mentorship and a startup capital grant of S$30,000 to first-time entrepreneurs with innovative business ideas, with startups required to co-match funds of S$10,000 to the grant. The co-matching amount that founders will have to put in remains the same under the enhanced scheme.
To tap the grant, startups must now be formed with minimally three Singaporeans and/or permanent residents, of which at least two must be first-time founders.
“This will encourage founders to start with a range of competencies that will be complementary in scaling their businesses,” said ESG.
In addition, a three-month venture building programme will also be set up - with Singapore’s five autonomous universities selected as its first partners - to help entrepreneurs form co-founding teams, identify business ideas, develop ideas into products or solutions, validate them with the market and find capital, said Mr Chan at a media briefing at SMU Connexion on Thursday.
Aspiring entrepreneurs may apply through the universities’ call applications on their websites - which will be up by end-August - following which appointed accredited mentor partners (AMPs) will filter applicants based on the uniqueness of their business concept, feasibility of business model, strength of management team and potential market value.
AMPs under the programme include deep-tech talent investor Entrepreneur First, venture capital firm Quest Ventures and the SMU Institute of Innovation & Entrepreneurship (IIE).
Under the venture building programme, participants will receive monthly stipends of S$1,500 per month for three months, paid through the appointed venture builders.
Apart from the five autonomous universities selected, ESG will be progressively expanding the list of venture builders for its programme. These venture builders will be selected based on their track record in generating strong ventures, said ESG in a statement.
Graduates from the programme will also be able to reach out to appointed AMPs for mentorship.
Edwin Chow, assistant chief executive for innovation and enterprise for ESG, said: “Startups have an innate ability to adapt and pivot, to quickly spot opportunities and provide effective solutions… By enhancing the Startup SG Founder programme, we hope to enable more aspiring entrepreneurs to start new ventures and accelerate the formation of innovative startups in Singapore.”