$110m for new grant to fund productivity solutions in industries

An initial $110 million will be set aside in the next three years for the new Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG), which supports selected productivity solutions in line with the Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs) drawn to turn around specified sectors.

For a start, the grant will cover sector-specific solutions in the retail, food, logistics, precision engineering, wholesale and landscaping industries, the Ministry of Trade and Industry said yesterday.

The grant will also help fund broad-based solutions that cut across industries, such as digital customer relationship management and human resource management systems.

"For businesses that want simpler solutions for improving productivity, pre-scoped productivity solutions are a tried and tested way to achieve quick results," said the ministry's Senior Minister of State, Ms Sim Ann, during the debate on its budget.

Open to applications from April 1, the PSG will initially combine three existing grants, with more to be added over time. These are Spring Singapore's Innovation and Capability Voucher, the National Parks Board's Landscape Productivity Grant, and the Infocomm and Media Development Authority's support for pre-scoped solutions under the SMEs Go Digital Programme.

The PSG provides funding support of up to 70 per cent. Grant caps have been raised and customised for each industry, Ms Sim said, without giving details.

The PSG is for solutions and equipment chosen by the agencies in charge of each ITM - for example, a digital ordering and payment system for the food industry. As more agencies put up solutions for support, the PSG will cover more items and sectors, such as tourism, agriculture and professional services.

Other grants and schemes are also being consolidated.

From the fourth quarter of this year, the existing Capability Development Grant (CDG) and Global Company Partnership (GCP) schemes will be combined into the Enterprise Development Grant.

Said Ms Sim: "It will give more holistic assistance to companies that can make use of the same grant to upgrade, innovate or venture overseas, or any combination of these strategies."

Under the two existing schemes, the maximum support for local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) was raised from 50 per cent to 70 per cent in Budget 2012 for three years, then extended for another three years. This higher support level will be extended again till the end of financial year 2019.

Non-SMEs will get funding of up to 50 per cent, compared with a similar level under the GCP and up to 30 per cent under the CDG.

From April 1, various grant schemes for trade associations and chambers (TACs) will be combined into a single Local Enterprise and Association Development programme. The existing schemes are Spring and IE Singapore's Lead; Spring's Lead+; Spring's TAC-Collaborative Industry Projects; and the Singapore Tourism Board's Association Development Fund.

Separately, an innovation scheme for SMEs is being extended to consortiums too, said Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon.

A*Star's Growing Enterprises through Technology Upgrade initiative now offers Operation and Technology Roadmapping for SMEs.

This guides SMEs in customising long-term growth strategies for new products or services. It also gives them strategies to assess consumer demand, challenges and potential markets.

Janice Heng

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 03, 2018, with the headline $110m for new grant to fund productivity solutions in industries. Subscribe