SINGAPORE: Singapore’s Enterprise 2030 strategy will support the growth of high-potential companies and strengthen the core capabilities of local businesses in industry transformation, said the second Minister of Commerce and Industry, Dr Tan See Leng, Friday, March 4.
Speaking in Parliament during the Department of Trade and Industry’s Supply Committee debates, Dr Tan presented the Enterprise 2030 strategy as Singapore’s answer to building and sustaining a “vibrant ecosystem” of businesses ready for the future and capable of being competitive on a global scale.
“We will achieve this in two ways. First, we need to support the growth of high-potential companies to become global champions,” Dr Tan said in his speech.
“Second, we will build the core capabilities of the broader local business base in industry transformation.”
A “new generation of local champions” has emerged in recent years, with 22 Singaporean startups reaching unicorn status, said Dr Tan, who is also Minister for Labour.
A unicorn is a private start-up company valued at over US$1 billion.
Companies like Secretlab, Hegen and Nanofilm have made a name for themselves internationally, he added.
“These are the bright spots in our corporate landscape. We will intensify our efforts to identify, support and grow many more promising local businesses,” said Dr Tan.
“To do this, we will launch an initiative to cultivate a new generation of global Singapore businesses that are locally grown and globally competitive.”
MTI will launch the Singapore Global Executive Program to build the human capital capabilities of high-potential local businesses and support them in attracting and retaining talent, the Minister said.
The Corporate Venture Launchpad, launched by the Economic Development Board (EDB) in 2021, will also be expanded to support a wider range of businesses, Dr Tan said.
This is a pilot program to help companies incubate and launch new ventures in a six-month sprint.
EDB will also launch a mergers and acquisitions grant to co-fund eligible expenditures on Singapore-based professional and financial advisory services incurred under a merger and acquisition deal, Dr Tan said.
BASIC CAPACITY BUILDING
MTI will step up its efforts to help small and medium enterprises in capacity development, internationalization, digitalization and innovation, the minister said.
Responding to questions about how the government will forge stronger partnerships between large local companies and SMEs, Dr Tan said MTI will work with SkillsFuture Singapore to bring large companies, or “queen bees”, on board for organize industry-relevant training courses in emerging areas. like robotics.
The government will also extend enhanced levels of support to the Partnerships for Capacity Transformation (PACT) programme, an initiative launched in 2010.
Under the scheme, companies can benefit from up to 70 percent of labor and consulting costs and up to 50 percent of material and equipment costs, he noted.
The program supported co-innovation, internationalization projects, as well as the costs of supplier qualification processes, Dr Tan said.
Since the program was launched, the government has set aside more than S$150 million to support these projects, and more than 2,000 Singapore-based businesses have benefited, he added.
To help SMEs deepen their presence in key markets and seize opportunities in new markets, MTI will intensify its efforts through international partnerships and networks, Dr. Tan said.
Despite current travel restrictions, 1,600 local companies have launched internationalization projects in 2021, he noted, adding that he was “encouraged”.
MTI has worked with many large local businesses to lend their networks to create business opportunities for local businesses, Dr. Tan said.
“We have worked with many large local companies to do this, and we will take a more concerted Team Singapore approach to our internationalization strategy and bring SMEs on board to collectively access overseas markets,” he added. .
HELPING COMPANIES TO DIGITALIZE AND INNOVATE
In his keynote, Dr. Tan also answered questions about how MTI will help businesses digitize and “seize new opportunities” in the digital economy.
More than 80,000 businesses have benefited from the SME Go Digital initiative since its launch in 2017, he noted.
The initiative supports SMEs in adopting digital solutions for basic business functions, online transactions and other more advanced solutions.
Companies can also benefit from financial support from ESG’s Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG) and Enterprise Development Grant, Dr. Tan added.
In his 2022 budget speech, Finance Minister Lawrence Wong announced that the range of solutions under the PSG will be expanded to include new technologies and more industry-specific solutions.
These will help companies deepen their capabilities in areas such as cybersecurity, digital marketing and data analytics, which will increasingly become essential skills, Dr Tan said.
In his address, the Minister also addressed questions about how the government is helping businesses to innovate.
Dr Tan reiterated Singapore’s commitment to keep research, innovation and business investment at 1% of the country’s GDP, or S$25 billion, from 2021 to 2025 under the Research Plan, innovation and business 2025.
“Over the years, we have taken a more business-centric approach to helping SMEs build their innovation capabilities and translate their innovations into new products and services,” he added.
For example, under A*STAR’s Technology for Enterprise Capability Upgrading program, more than 950 researchers and engineers have been seconded to support more than 850 local SMEs in product development since 2003, Dr. Tan said.
More recently, in the fight against COVID-19, A*STAR’s Investigational Drug Development Center collaborated with the Diagnostics Development Hub and Tan Tock Seng Hospital to develop the Fortitude COVID-19 test kit, a he added.
This test kit was the first laboratory diagnostic kit to receive provisional clearance from the Health Science Authority for clinical use, and was subsequently deployed in Singapore and more than 40 other countries, the minister said.
“In addition to COVID-19 related innovations, we are also encouraged to see more local businesses innovating and moving up the value chain,” he added.
“We have invested considerable resources and effort in building innovation capabilities…I am excited to see how our companies will push the boundaries to create solutions for the world.”