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Companies to add S$17.3b in value, 21,700 in jobs from Enterprise Singapore help in 2019

Singapore companies could create S$17.3 billion in value added, with the support they got in 2019 from government agency Enterprise Singapore (ESG) - or 69 per cent more than the value added in 2018.

SINGAPORE companies could create S$17.3 billion in value added, with the support they got in 2019 from government agency Enterprise Singapore (ESG) - or 69 per cent more than the value added in 2018.

That's as ESG reached 11,450 businesses and supported 13,560 projects last year, according to an annual report released on Friday. The support is also tipped to add 21,700 skilled jobs, more than double last year's job creation.

The agency, which was formed two years ago from the merger of IE Singapore and Spring Singapore, is tasked with boosting productivity, innovation and internationalisation.

The number of projects supported in 2019 rose by 52 per cent on the year before - driven by a spike in productivity and capability-building efforts at micro and small businesses.

ESG administers schemes such as the Productivity Solutions Grant, which offers off-the-shelf automation and digitalisation options to businesses, and the Enterprise Development Grant, which goes to heftier upgrading and expansion efforts.

The 10,000 productivity-related projects accomplished last year helped some 8,300 companies, largely in services industries such as lifestyle, trade and transport, to become more manpower-lean, ESG said.

On the international front, ESG gave direct on-the-ground help to 600 projects, largely focused on China and South-east Asia, that should yield about S$8.8 billion in overseas sales and S$8.9 billion in overseas investments. Overall, it helped 2,600 companies to go abroad through 3,000 projects.

Other ambitious initiatives rolled out by the ESG last year include two rounds of Scale-up SG - in July, and again in December - which supports the rapid expansion of home-grown companies that are tipped to have potential for high growth.

It also grew its 13-city strong Global Innovation Alliance network, which helped 100 startups and small tech companies find partners and opportunities abroad last year, to four more sites.

ESG chief executive Png Cheong Boon, calling the yearly figures encouraging, noted that companies invested in resilience and competitiveness in spite of "global uncertainties and domestic challenges" in 2019. Singapore had to contend with a sharp economic slowdown that was amplified by the trade war between the United States and China.

Now, with the Republic reeling from the global outbreak of a mystery killer virus, Mr Png said that "our immediate priority is to assist enterprises" as they brace for the impact of the novel coronavirus - but he added that companies, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, should continue their investments in productivity, innovation and transformation.

"Only by doing so will they be able to compete locally and overseas, and better position themselves," he said.

"For, when the recovery comes, while there will be pent-up demand, we need to recognise that there will also be pent-up supply competing for new businesses to make up for the lost revenue."

Peter Ong, chairman of ESG, also said: "Given the size of our market, Singapore enterprises cannot afford to not seek out opportunities globally. In fact, situations such as the coronavirus and geopolitical risks make it even more critical for enterprises to diversify their businesses and markets."

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