$90m boost to develop industries: Iswaran

About $90 million will be set aside over the next five years to develop industries through the Local Enterprise and Association Development (Lead) programme, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S. Iswaran announced yesterday.

This is 20 per cent more than the $75 million previously set aside for the programme in 2011.

The fund, managed by both International Enterprise (IE) Singapore and Spring Singapore, supports trade associations and chambers (TACs) to undertake projects that will drive industry transformation for evolving sectoral needs.

Mr Iswaran, who spoke at a panel discussion during the Lead Partners Dinner yesterday, said: "TACs are important partners in helping to identify and aggregate industry needs as well as co-develop scalable solutions for their members.

"The Government will continue to support TACs' industry development efforts, and provide resources to help willing TACs strengthen their capabilities so that they can play a more proactive role in driving transformation at the industry level and fostering collaboration among members."

During the event, 10 TACs were awarded close to $10 million in funding for 11 projects to drive upgrading in the industry and build capabilities for overseas expansion.

IE Singapore and Spring Singapore noted in a joint statement that some of the 10 TACs are helping companies grow overseas and find new markets amid the bearish economic outlook.

For instance, the Singapore Manufacturing Federation has partnered IE Singapore and the Intellectual Property Intermediary to launch the Enterprise Europe Network Singapore, which gives Singapore firms access to technology know- how, intellectual property and business partners in Europe.

Other TACs, said the statement, are investing in industry-wide initiatives to develop enterprise capability and competency in order to boost the competitiveness of the overall sector.

IE Singapore chief executive Lee Ark Boon noted that the Lead programme has supported 35 TACs in more than 180 industry-upgrading projects since 2005.

More than 40,000 enterprises have benefited from a total of $120 million in grants.

"As we work together to strengthen our TACs, this will also enable them to re-energise their mission, reinvent their services and renew their relevance to members and the industry," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 11, 2016, with the headline '$90m boost to develop industries: Iswaran'. Print Edition | Subscribe