Free money guys. Free money. Why are we even having a discussion about it – go get it now.

If there’s one thing that the Singapore Government can be recognised for in the startup and SME ecosystem, it has to be the investment they have made into growing the overall industry. The undeniably important role that startups and SMEs play in the economy, requires there be wide support for entrepreneurs and small businesses in the country.

In fact, based on our research there are around 30 different grant programmes that might be useful to you. So here’s what you need to know about applying for a grant in Singapore.

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What can you use a government grant for?

Generally grants are given to help business in these ways:

  • Potential startups have an opportunity to get support in the form of startup capital that can finance a proof of concept or help you reach production for your product.
  • For business or SME owners, you can get grants to finance projects that help your business grow or make it more efficient. You can get support to develop a new product or to improve your work process.

Typically, Singapore offers grants to startups to support new innovations, often through purchasing services required to run the business. This means you can get funds to implement cloud accounting or HR, so you can buy the needed software, find a service provider and train an employee to use it. Grants are even offered if you are planning to expand your business abroad, you can apply for a grant to finance a market study or participation in an overseas event.

Small businesses can also finance training activities as wellas career development for their employees. This is often in the form of enrichment courses to learn new software or to improve presentation skills.   

One of the main agencies in charge of these grants is Enterprise Singapore. Under this agency, they have the following resources such as the SG Startup Portal for tech startups and the SME Portal for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises. 

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Other agencies or Ministries also run grant programmes that are specific to certain sectors or industries such as healthcare and finance.

Who is eligible?

This is quite straight forward and the information is readily available online. Most grants are for companies that qualify as SMEs, which means your company must:

  • Be registered and operate in Singapore
  • Have a minimum of 30 per cent local shareholding
  • Company’s Group annual sales turnover should be not more than S$100 million OR Company’s Group employment size should be no more than 200 workers.

As per any government, locally owned companies stand the highest chance of receiving these grants.

There are even grants for existing small businesses, which typically cover some percentage of specific project costs. These project usually are for expansion of your business or to improve overall efficiency that can be implementing new IT solutions or training programmes for your employees.

The Singapore government is always introducing new grant programmes every year, so we recommend you check the SME Portal for updates.

For first-time entrepreneurs and startups

Understanding that success needs to be earned, often means that taking risks with new innovations or first-time entrepreneurs is essential. From monetary incentives to training and mentorship, the Singapore government offers a lot of opportunity for new founders.

We have listed some of the top options for new entrepreneurs to look into and consider:

  • The BACECAMP programme: which offers intensive training for early-stage startups and first-time entrepreneurs from anywhere in the world.
  • The AMP list: Accredited Mentor Partners is a curated list of partners that fund and mentor new startups in the market
  • Startup SG Tech: Startup SG Tech supports Proof-of-Concept (POC) and Proof-of-Value (POV) for commercialisation of innovative technologies.

The application process for a government grant

The process is quite easy in comparison to other markets, at least based on our research and anecdotal feedback from entrepreneurs. The application and all required documents can easily be submitted online.

However, for some grants, entrepreneurs need to present their project for the evaluation committee personally, as they progress along the review process. For many SME grants, the application can be submitted via Business Grants Portal. This acts as a one-stop platform that allows you to submit and track applications for a number of government grants.

Tips on how to improve your chances of success

This isn’t a guarantee that they will approve your grant request, so make sure you put in the work required.

  • Do not lie or omit facts, as this is heavily regulated funding with a lot of oversight
  • If you’re idea contributes to the future vision of Singapore, it greatly improves your likelihood of getting funded
  • Always show the science or data behind your idea if available – this proves the credibility of your idea