During his speech at the official opening of the new Singapore Business Federation (SBF) centre and SBF Foundation Office on September 5, 2017, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry), Mr. S Iswaran, announced that SPRING Singapore and IE Singapore, which are both statutory boards under the Ministry of Trade and Industry, would be merged to form a new government agency called Enterprise Singapore. The merger is set to happen in the second quarter of 2018.
Minister Iswaran explained the reasons behind the merger:
“SPRING and IE have developed strong networks and deep capabilities in their respective functions. IE has offices in over 35 cities, and in the first half of 2017 alone, helped more than 24,000 enterprises with overseas expansion. Over the same period, SPRING has helped to build capabilities in SMEs through projects that are expected to generate $4 billion in value-add. Both agencies are doing good work and their efforts have had a material impact. One measure is productivity, which grew by 1% in 2016, and even more strongly in the first half of this year, at 2.8%.
With tighter domestic constraints, external demand will be an even more important driver of growth. To tap on these opportunities, our companies must be able to respond nimbly to political and economic shifts, shorter technology cycles, and business model disruptions. They must have extensive networks internationally, superior capabilities, innovative products and strong brands to compete in this globalised digital economy. As emphasised by the CFE, the capacity to innovate, harness new technologies, scale up and internationalise are deeply intertwined for all companies regardless of their scale or stage of development.”
Enterprise Singapore will integrate its knowledge of industries with its network of local and overseas partners, to comprehensively support Singapore’s enterprises in their efforts to innovate and internationalise. Minister Iswaran also added that the government have carefully studied the feedback gathered from the CFE’s extensive industry consultations, as well as the call from various parties, including SBF and the SME Committee, in arriving at the decision for a consolidated government agency to champion the growth and development of SMEs.
SMEs will continue to receive assistance from Enterprise Singapore to build innovation capacity and strengthen competitiveness (programmes that are currently under SPRING). Enterprise Singapore will also enable SMEs to scale up and grow their international footprint through its wide network of overseas centres (presently under IE). For example, Enterprise Singapore can not only support a manufacturing company with a grant to augment its production capacity but also concurrently work with them to develop an export marketing and channel strategy for its increased output.
As part of this restructuring, the Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) will take over SPRING’s oversight of consumer protection. This will reinforce CCS’s focus on ensuring that Singapore’s markets function well, with robust and fair market practices that benefit both business and consumers, while Enterprise Singapore focuses on enterprise development.
Given the scale, complexity and importance of the mission, and transition in particular, Mr. Png Cheong Boon, Second Permanent Secretary for MTI, will be appointed as the Chief Executive Officer (Designate) for Enterprise Singapore.
In the closing of his speech, Minister Iswaran assured that there will be no disruption to the support given to Singapore’s SMEs, and that the core competencies of IE and SPRING Singapore are preserved and built on by Enterprise Singapore, with a smooth transition as the utmost priority.
Featured image by Ambassador of Mexico His Excellency Nathán Wolf Lustbader/@nwlust on Twitter.