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The 12 Best Singapore Government Grants for Your Startup

Written by on August 22, 2016

In the world of startups, Singapore has long held the reputation of having the best setups to help establish and grow new businesses in the region.

The country’s position is based on a lot of factors, including the location that provides great access to some of Asia’s most powerful emerging and current economic stronghouses.

But one of the most compelling reasons is the amazing amount of support that the Singaporean government offers to businesses.

If you are a startup hoping to set up in Singapore, you’ll need to find out which government grants may be best for your new business.

So today, we’ll look at the best Singapore government grants in three categories: cash grants, incubators, and equity finance schemes.

Cash Grants

There are many cash grants available from the Singapore government
There are many cash grants available from the Singapore government

The best-sounding grant, and the most populated, cash grants offer financial assistance under different conditions for up-and-coming startups.

ACE Startups

The Action Community for Entrepreneurship (ACE Startups Scheme) is administered by the Singapore government agency SPRING.

Eligibility: First-time Singaporean or Permanent Resident entrepreneurs, based on criteria that include differentiation, business model feasibility, potential market opportunity and management team.

How: For every $3 you raise, ACE will match you with $7 up to $50,000. So if you raise $21,429 by yourself, ACE will gift you with the maximum of $50,000

Innovation & Capability Voucher

The ICV is usually the first and easiest government funding for Singapore startups.

Eligibility: Any SME registered and operating in Singapore

How: ICV provides a cash-equivalent voucher worth $5,000 to develop startup capabilities

ComCare Enterprise Fund

The ComCare Enterprise Fund (CEF) works through the Ministry of Social and Family Development, providing seed funding for social enterprise startups that employ disadvantaged locals.

Eligibility: Social enterprise startups that hire and train disadvantages Singaporeans.

How: For the first two years funds a maximum of 80% of the capital expenditure and operating costs up to $300,000

Capability Development Grant

The CDG is a financial assistance scheme that helps startups build capabilities in ten business areas including consultancy, certification and equipment costs, and training.

Eligibility: Any SME registered and operating in Singapore

How: Startups can get up to 70% of productivity and capability activities covered for a maximum of $30,000

Technology Enterprise Commercialisation Scheme

The TECS is the largest cash grant and helps support startups with strong technology Intellectual Property as well as a scalable business model.

Eligibility: Rigorous standards for the solution (clearly demonstrate the science, be a breakthrough, build on IP, and be commercially viable) and be registered in Singapore for less than 5 years

How: Two-tier grant—Proof of Concept at $250,000 and Proof of Value at $500,000. Usually startups apply for the POC and then POV for a total of $750,000

Productivity & Innovation Credit

The PIC scheme is part cash payout and part tax benefits for companies to increase their productive and innovation abilities.

Eligibility: Any SME registered and operating in Singapore with three local employees

How: Startups can choose to get a cash payout up to $100,000 or tax benefits of up to $400,000 to spend on R&D, IT, or staff training

Incubator Schemes

Singapore incubator schemes are great for startups who needs mentorship and training along with financial assistance
Singapore’s incubator schemes are great for startups that need mentorship and training along with financial assistance

These schemes are usually for startups in their early stages, as the incubator also includes mentoring, training, and other non-cash support. Great for startups who want to network and learn from already established similar enterprises or those in the same industry.

i.Jam Micro Funding

The Media Development Authority of Singapore aims to promote media companies, so this incubator scheme is perfect if you involved in any media and publishing field.

Eligibility: Singapore startups in broadcasting, animation, interactive media/games, filming, publishing, etc.

How: Maximum of $250,000 is granted through private sector incubators (chosen by the government) in two phases. The first phase is a simple $50K and then startups can apply for an additional max of $200K, although 50% of that has to come from a private sector investor.

Fast-Track Environmental and Water Technologies Incubator Scheme

Fast-Tech, as it’s popularly known, is administered by the Economic Development Board and is geared towards the specific water tech sector.

Eligibility: Singapore startups in the environmental and water technology sector

How: Maximum of $300,000 or 85%, whichever is lower, over a two-year period. Startups will be working with water tech incubators who then offer mentorship, guidance and training. The designated incubator will also take equity stake in the startup

Technology Incubation Scheme

With TIS, Singapore’s National Research Foundation will co-invest with an incubator to assist technology startups.

Eligibility: Singapore startups in the technology sector

How: Maximum of 85% (up to$500,000) co-investment from Singapore NRF, where one of the 15 selected technology incubators will invest the remaining 15% for a total of $589,000. The incubator will have an option to buy NRF’s take in the company within three years

Equity Finance Schemes

Equity schemes are great for raising capital in exchange for equity
Equity finance schemes are great for raising capital in exchange for equity

This type of scheme is perfect for startups needing to raise capital, as the grants are lent by investors in exchange for equity stake in the startup.

Early-Stage Venture Funding

The ESVF scheme is the biggest government equity scheme which co-funds along with venture capital firms.

Eligibility: Singapore startups, especially in the technology sector

How: NRF co-invests up to $10 million with approved incubators on a one-to-one basis. Eligible startups can get funding grants directly from venture capital firms up to a max of $3 million.

Startup Enterprise Development Scheme

SPRING SEEDS, as it’s known, works with third-party investors to help co-invest in eligible commercially viable startups.

Eligibility: Singapore startups with a minimum paid-up capital of $50K, high growth potential, and have identified third-party investor

How: SPRING co-invests by matching dollar-for-dollar up to $1 million each side, with 1st-round investment usually capped at $300,000, in exchange for equity

Sector Specific Accelerators

The SSA is a relative new-comer to the Singaporean government grants game, but it aims to invest in emerging sectors such as medical and clean technology.

Eligibility: Singapore startups in a nascent sector characterized by low amount of local enterprises

How: SPRING co-invests here again at 1:1 with the help of four government-appointed industry accelerators who will provide financial and non-financial support. The whole fund has a total of $70 million.

So what you’re saying is…

These are just a few of the many grants available from the business-friendly Singaporean government.

In order to figure out what’s best for your startup, you’ll need to have a clear idea of your industry, your business’s capabilities, and the future of the company.

Good luck on your startup journey!

Did we miss any other important government grants? Let us know in the comments below!

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