Singapore Budget 2019: Two schemes to help startups scale up and tap expert know-how

Claudia Chong
Published Mon, Feb 18, 2019 · 09:50 PM
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ENTERPRISE Singapore will launch two programmes to help startups and smaller companies scale up and tap a pool of experts, said Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat on Monday.

The first programme, called Scale-up SG, will partner both the private and public sectors to work with high-growth local firms in order to build new capabilities, innovate and internationalise.

The second, a two-year pilot initiative called the Innovation Agents programme, will connect firms with experts who can advise them on opportunities to innovate and commercialise their technology.

Enterprise Singapore will identify individuals with deep expertise in technology, strong track records in growing businesses, and access to global industry networks, who will provide consultation on a one-to-one or group basis. The duration of engagement may vary from a few months to a year.

Mr Heng said Singapore's startup ecosystem is flourishing. "There are now over 220 venture capital deals per year in Singapore, worth close to US$4.2 billion, a significant rise from the 80 deals worth US$136 million in 2012. Today, more than 150 global venture capital funds, incubators and accelerators are based in Singapore, supporting startups here and in the region."

Startups welcomed the new initiatives. Kelvin Lam, country manager of mobile wallet startup You Trip Singapore, said: "Singapore has a good foundation to support startups at seed stage, and startups generally see less support as they grow beyond that. With the help of the government, a lot of doors can be opened to help startups beyond seed stage to grow further."

Bhaskar Prabhakara, chief executive of wealthtech firm WeInvest, said: "We believe deeper public-private collaboration and programmes to foster the building of networks and tie-ups in the region are what fast-growing startups will need as they scale."

Startups will have to wait till later this year for more details on the programmes. Until then, Hemant Doshi, CEO (Singapore and Malaysia) of financial literacy firm The Praxis Company believes the best kind of support would be "something that's easy to access, easy to execute and low on paperwork, high on action".

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