As companies no longer have the luxury of learning to walk at home before running overseas, the Government has set up a new agency to speed up their growth process.
Enterprise Singapore, born by merging International Enterprise Singapore with Spring Singapore, will help local firms bulk up and go global fast in this era of disruption.
The merger, which kicks in next year, will combine IE's expertise in helping companies venture overseas with Spring's skills in developing capacity, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S. Iswaran said yesterday at the official opening of the Singapore Business Federation's (SBF) new Robinson Road office.
"With tighter domestic constraints, external demand will be an even more important driver of growth," he noted.
"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."
Enterprise Singapore will be able to support local firms in these efforts, Mr Iswaran said.
It could, for example, give a manufacturing firm a grant to raise its production capacity, while developing an export strategy for its increased output.
Start-ups will not only benefit from the capability development support that Spring has been providing, but also be plugged into IE's international networks, he said.
Mr Png Cheong Boon, Second Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Trade and Industry, will be concurrently appointed as the chief executive (designate) of Enterprise Singapore. He had previously served as the chief executive of JTC Corporation and Spring.
Meanwhile, the Competition Commission of Singapore will take over Spring's oversight of consumer protection, letting Enterprise Singapore focus on businesses.
Mr Iswaran stressed that the merger "is not about downsizing or rationalisation", adding that the new entity will have about 900 staff - the combined strength of IE and Spring's existing headcounts.
Businesses and trade associations welcomed the merger, with the SBF noting that the move is consistent with what it has called for in recent years.
"I am sure one plus one will be more than two in this case," said SBF chairman Teo Siong Seng.
"Today, a company would have to go to Spring to apply for productivity schemes, then to IE for help going overseas. You have two officers helping the same company on issues that may overlap. By bringing them together, a company would be looked after by one agency as it grows."
Mrs Xu Run Machen, managing director of household goods distributor Xu Run Holdings, recalled how IE helped her when she wanted to open an office n Shanghai. But she was too busy to apply for Spring grants. "I had time only to work on expanding overseas," she said.
"I think with this merger, Enterprise Singapore can do both - they can help companies with grants and... take the initiative to help them look at international opportunities. I think that will be more effective than having two agencies do different things."
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