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New initiatives to support manufacturing companies, trade ecosystem and startups in Singapore

During the Committee of Supply (COS) debate in the Singapore parliament on 2 March, Dr Koh Poh Koon, Senior Minister of State (SMS) for Trade and Industry, talked about new initiatives to help local manufacturing companies adopt advanced technology, strengthen the trade ecosystem and support startups.

Helping companies transit to advanced manufacturing

He said that the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) is going to extend the reach of its Operation and Technology Roadmapping (OTR) service.

The OTR is a part of A*STAR’s Growing Enterprises through Technology Upgrade (GET-Up) initiative which aims to boost the innovation capacity and global competitiveness of local technology-intensive enterprises.

Through OTR, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) can get A*STAR’s guidance to customise a long-term growth strategy for realising new product or service offerings. The OTR also provides SMEs with business strategies to assess consumer demand, challenges, and potential markets. As of November 2017, A*STAR has engaged over 300 companies through OTR.

Dr Koh said that A*STAR will work through lead Government agencies and TACs (Trade Associations & Chambers) to launch consortium-style OTRs, in order to extend the reach of OTR.

This will bring together companies within the same sub-sector to chart out technology roadmaps for shared problem statements. Participating companies can then build on these shared roadmaps as base templates to further customise solutions for their needs. This arrangement allows more companies to leverage shared resources such as industry experts and technology developers.

Dr Koh also provided an update on Tech Depot which was launched in April last year to improve local enterprises' access to technology and digital solutions. Tech Depot, which was jointly created by A*STAR, IMDA (Infocomm Media Development Authority), and SPRING, is an online repository of plug-and-play productivity solutions available on SPRING’s SME Portal. The solutions cover areas such as inventory and asset tracking, and supply chain management. Till date, 45 solutions have been made available and more than 1,000 companies have adopted solutions from Tech Depot.

Dr Koh also said that companies which are unsure about how and where to begin their transformation journey can use EDB’s Singapore Smart Industry Readiness Index (SSIRI) launched in December last year. Companies can use this tool to self-diagnose the future-readiness of their organisational processes, technology usage, and workforce skills. It is designed to be used by companies of all sizes in all sectors, to determine how they may implement “smart” manufacturing operations. He encouraged companies to sign up for the SSIRI workshops conducted by EDB to find out more.

Strengthening trade ecosystem

In September 2017, the Singapore Logistics Association (SLA) and Global eTrade Services (GeTS) launched ‘hive’, a regional B2B trade facilitation platform. ‘hive’ supports companies in meeting cross-border trade compliance requirements for over 50 customs authorities in ASEAN and around the world. This allows companies to enjoy greater process efficiencies and seamless clearance, since ‘hive’ will be linked to Singapore Customs.

During the first five months, over 2,300 companies have joined the platform, and close to 4,000 transactions have been completed.

To further strengthen Singapore’s trade ecosystem, the Government will establish the Trade Infrastructure Development Fund (TIDF) this year.

The TIDF will be offered as a grant to support companies which are looking to develop B2B e-marketplaces and innovative trade solutions. The TIDF will also support initiatives to create a wider spectrum of financial value-added service offerings. These efforts are expected to help Singapore’s Wholesale Trade companies to scale up, and become more productive and innovative.

Supporting Singapore’s startup ecosystem

SPRING will also be launching the Startup SG (SSG) Network later this year. The SSG Network will be a one-stop database of information, as well as an e-community of startups and ecosystem players. This will support networking and facilitate business matching for startups.

This will build on last year’s initiatives, such as the launch of ‘Startup SG’  as a single brand identity in March 2017, enhancing the EntrePass scheme’s entry and renewal criteria in August 2017 and raising the cap and proportion of the Government’s co-investment funding share under the Startup SG Equity.

With the establishment of Enterprise Singapore (ESG) in April this year through the merger of IE Singapore and SPRING, startups will be able to leverage ESG’s international network of offices and in-market partners to scale up and expand into new overseas markets.

ESG will advise startups on capability development and internationalisation, while providing them with integrated support through the schemes that were previously under SPRING and IE Singapore.

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