The Singapore government’s Chief Information Officer is called as the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA). It is the city-state government’s division that pushes for progress and innovation on the local information and communications technology (ICT) industry. ICT is also known as Infocomm, covering information processing through electronic communications and internet technology. Aside from focusing on Infocomm’s progress, IDA’s primary mission is to use this development to primarily serve Singapore residents and companies.
IDA works in partnership with prominent global information technology (IT) companies to support company formation in Singapore, especially local innovative ICT companies. This enables IDA to set up and bring to life a dynamic, collaborative network among foreign, local, and multinational companies to facilitate global competitiveness and economic growth in Singapore.
IDA develops ICT policies and regulatory frameworks to make businesses thrive and benefit consumers, as IDA aims to place Singapore on the world map as the first Smart Nation. With the higher use of data and hyper-connectivity across the state, Singapore as a Smart Nation will increase business productivity and enrich the citizens’ quality of life.
One of the IDA projects that support new areas for growth, specifically for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) is re-launched as the enhanced Increase SME Productivity with Infocomm Adoption & Transformation (iSPRINT). This has been developed in line with Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance announcement in the Singapore Budget Speech last February 2014 about the SGD 500-million ICT for Productivity and Growth (IPG) program. IPG is now incorporated in the iSPRINT scheme and has been set into place during the last quarter of 2014 as published by Singapore Infocomm Guide to strengthen enterprise development in the Republic.
The enhanced iSPRINT scheme will serve as a springboard for expanding local ICT solutions and capabilities of the targeted 10,000 SMEs in the next three years, as envisioned in the Singapore Infocomm Guide. It has a broader coverage, from basic business intelligence tools to complex business transformation solutions, and simpler application process as SMEs are required to apply through only one scheme without claim submissions to avail of the grant.
IDA has set the eligibility criteria on their official website. SMEs that are either locally registered or incorporated in Singapore, with at least 30% local shareholding, and lastly, have at most $100 million group annual sales turnover and 200 employees are qualified to try this opportunity.
The enhancement applied in iSPRINT heightens the partnership between ICT vendors and SMEs to boost the supply of sector solutions. Three initiatives have been launched under this programme, namely, Piloting New Sector Solutions, Scaling up Proven Sector (ICT) Solutions that SMEs can deploy, and High-Speed Connectivity that SMEs can enjoy.
When Piloting New Sector Solutions under the partnership program, the ICT vendor or trade association applicant should be the project lead for the implementation, have sector expertise and also an entity registered or incorporated in Singapore similar to the SME participant. The collaboration will focus on “Emerging Solutions,” game changers in technological innovation that can create new revenue streams or business models. These will be used for the improvement of an existing enterprise or innovation upon starting a business in Singapore.
The grant support considerations, terms and conditions vary depending on the projected impact of the emerging solution to the sector. SMEs can avail of up to 80% grant coverage at a maximum of SGD 1 million. IDA’s webpage enlists the application and evaluation process.
When Scaling up Proven Sector Solutions, existing business improvement systems can be fully rolled out to SMEs. For example, a wireless integrated system from a food and beverage operator has eliminated time and motion wastes from its service staff. This can be adopted by a freshly established SME in the food and beverage sector. Other examples are Real Estate Agency Operations and Sales Persons Management System, and Practice Management System, as enlisted in the IDA factsheet. Any system can be adopted by another SME with a fund assistance of up to 70% of the costs covering software, consultancy, and training. 30% straight payment to vendors will be shouldered by the SME, while IDA will directly reimburse the rest from the vendor.
To reinforce these initiatives and exhaust the possibilities, high-speed connectivity will be partly subsidized by the IDA when adopting either of the enhanced iSPRINT schemes. IDA will support at least 100 Mbps of the SMEs’ fibre subscription plans and implement Wireless@SG services in the SMEs’ premises.
There are still a lot of technology improvement assistance schemes in this highly advanced city-state, and these are just a few. The enhanced iSPRINT alone, however, can definitely trigger a good headstart for SMEs when starting a business in Singapore.
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