Note: The information below is current as of November 2018. Please review the latest information before committing to any particular application.

With the increasing number of grants available to the entrepreneur, it can be difficult and definitely time-consuming to wade through the mass of information, only to find out that you don’t qualify! We understand how frustrating that can be, so here at Binary Thinktank, we have compiled a list of both private and government grants for startups. No matter which industry you are in, these grants are here to help you leverage technology to grow your business.

Contents


Available Grants

1) Startup SG Founder

https://ssg.startupsg.net/startupsg-founder/

This is the go-to grant for every new start-up. Open for all sectors, Startup SG Founder provides mentorship and capital for first-time entrepreneurs. It is part of the Startup SG Network administered by Enterprise SIngapore (ESG). The grant will match $3 to every $1 raised by the entrepreneur, capped at $30,000. Amount raised by entrepreneur for co-matching should be made available in company bank account immediately after acceptance of Letter of Offer.

Startup SG Founder has also appointed various Accredited Mentor Partner (AMP) that will evaluate applicants and upon successful application, will provide advice, learning programmes and networking opportunities. AMPs may take up to 50% equity in the start-up. Apply for this grant via selected AMPs. List of all AMP available on Startup SG Founder webpage.

Cash will paid in 2 tranches based on agreed project milestones.

How to qualify:

Main applicant(s) refer to the Singapore citizen or PR who holds or propose to hold at least 30% equity of company. There may be other applicant(s), also Singapore citizen or PR, but the main applicant(s) will be the key decision maker(s) and is expected to commit full-time to the company. Main applicant(s) are not allowed to be in other employment upon accepting the Letter of Offer.

Limitations:

Awarded companies have 12 months to fulfill pre-approved milestones. These milestones are set by the entrepreneur together with their Enterprise Singapore mentor.

This may not be combined with other grants. Only one government grant for one project/proposal.

2) Enterprise Development Grant (EDG)

https://www.mti.gov.sg/MTIInsights/SiteAssets/Pages/COS%202018/Factsheets/Support%20for%20Enterprise%20Development/Enterprise%20Development%20Grant%20MTI%20COS%202018%20Factsheet%20-%20final.pdf

Newly launched in October, the EDG, also administered by Enterprise Singapore, aims to support local businesses to grow, innovate and expand overseas. Your project should fall into at least one of the following categories:

  1. Core Capabilities:
    Your project will help to strengthen your business foundations with the ultimate aim of growth and transformation. It should go beyond basic functions like sales and accounting.
  2. Innovation and Productivity:
    Your project aim to explore new areas of growth and/ or to improve efficiency. For example, your company is undertaking this project to implement new technology into your daily operations so as to increase productivity.
  3. Market Access:
    Your project aims to help your company enter the international market. The EDG can be used to offset the costs of expansion.

Detailed templates for your project proposal and a document checklist are provided on the pre-application page. You may apply for this grant through the Business Grant Portal. If you happen to have more than one project that you want to pursue (that are distinct from each other) you are allowed to apply EDG more than once.

How to qualify:

SME applicants will get up to 70% off qualifying costs and non-SMEs will get up to 50% of qualifying costs.

Conditions upon accepting the grant:

Grants are on a reimbursement basis. Claims must be received by ESG no later than six months from the end of the project qualifying period. You may apply for other grants at the same time if it is for another project with a distinctly different scope, work and activities. If the project outcomes also lead to a benefit for matured workers, you may apply for WorkPro Job Redesign (rider) grant. Applications for the rider must be received by ESG no later than six months from the end of the project.

3) Market Readiness Assistance Grant (MRA)

https://ie.enterprisesg.gov.sg/Assistance/MRA

Unlike the EDG, MRA is only for SMEs who are willing and ready to venture into the overseas market. Each grant will support one activity e.g. participating in a foreign trade show. You may apply for up to 2 times per fiscal year (from 1st April to 31st March of the next year). Total amount of grant for one fiscal year is capped at $20,000 irregardless of how many times you have applied.

How to qualify:

An application for a project that has begun is not eligible. A project is considered to have begun if one the events occurred before application:

You may apply for other government grants if it is not for the same scope of work, services or activities supported. All application should be filed no earlier than 6 months of planned project start date.

Limitations:

MRA is reimbursement based grant. Claims must be filed through the Business Grant Portal within 3 months of project end date. For all claims, an independent appointed auditor must verify the expenses. An audit grant fee, capped at S$500 or 70% of the audit fee will be given to companies who use Enterprise Singapore’s appointed auditors.

As this grant is specifically geared towards Singapore companies who wants to venture overseas, activities which intend for Singapore to be the target market will not be eligible. Nonprofits and activities for the purpose of fundraising are not eligible either.

Your proposed project or activity must be have a completion date of 6 months.

Different applications from companies with similar business registration details (including nature of business, address, shareholder/directorship, etc.) will be treated as connected enterprises, and will be subjected to the cumulative grant ceiling of S$20,000 per fiscal year.

For a full list of unsupported activities such as costs of work permits, marketing, product certification, visit their FAQ page.

4) Double Tax Deduction for Internationalisation (DTDi)

https://ie.enterprisesg.gov.sg/E-Services/Double-Tax-Deduction-for-Internationalisation

Complementing the MRA, DTDi aims to help Singapore companies expand overseas. Expenses under the following 4 categories are qualified to receive an automatic 200% tax deduction without need for approval by ESG or Singapore Tourism Board (STB).

  1. Overseas business development trips and missions*
  2. Overseas investment study trips and missions*
  3. Overseas trade fairs*
  4. Local trade fairs approved by Enterprise Singapore or Singapore Tourism Board (STB) (regarding invitation of overseas clients, only expenses for up to 2 clients will be eligible)

*regarding participating employees, only expenses for up to 2 employees per trip will be eligible

Eligible expenses on qualifying activities outside the four areas, and expenses exceeding S$100,000 will require Enterprise Singapore's approval. From YA 2019, qualifying expenditure cap will be increased to $150,000.

Other qualifying categories, but these have to be submitted to ESG or STB for approval:

How to qualify:

If businesses are unsure if their total qualifying expenditure will exceed $150,000, they can submit their applications to ESG (via their incentive portal) and STB (manual application) for approval before commencing any of the qualifying activities.

Limitations:

No carryover of unutilized expenditure into the next YA even if qualifying expenses of YA 2018 are within the increased cap of $150,000.

DTDi is only applicable for the first 3 years of foreign establishment or acquisition (including equity interests). Once you have established or acquired an “overseas entity” you will not be eligible for DTDi.

An overseas entity refers to an entity:

5) Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG)

https://www.enterprisesg.gov.sg/financial-assistance/grants/for-local-companies/productivity-solutions-grant

The PSG is for the SME looking to leverage on technology to improve or expand their business. This grant is open to businesses in all industries, as long as they are seeking to implement technological solutions in their business.

SMEs can expect to receive funding support for up to 50% or 70% of qualifying costs depending on the level of support given. Businesses can apply for the PSG through the Business Grants Portal.

The amount you get depends on the solution(s) for your business. All supported solutions and equipment are listed on Tech Depot in the SME Portal. Once you get a quotation from a pre-approved vendor listed on Tech Depot, you can submit your grant application.

SMEs can apply for PSG if they meet the following criteria:

Limitations:

Grants for different industries are capped at different levels. For example, if your company is in environmental services, your grant cap will be $250,000. Your company must also comply with NEA standards and/or licensing. As the grant is open to all sectors, exact grant caps vary widely and may be up to the discretion of ESG.

6) Tax Exemption Scheme for New StartUp Companies

The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) gives tax discounts and exemptions for startups to encourage SME growth. The scheme has been revised in 2018 and changes will be implemented in YA 2020. Startups will receive tax exemptions in the first 3 years.

YA 2020 onwards:

YA 2019 and before:

*Normal chargeable income refers to income to be taxed at the prevailing corporate tax rate.

The tax exemption is open to all new companies except these 2 types of companies:

  1. A company whose principal activity is that of investment holding; and
  2. A company whose principal activity is that of developing properties for sale, investment, or both.

To qualify for tax exemption for startups, eligible new companies must satisfy these 3 qualifying conditions:

  1. The company must be incorporated in Singapore;
  2. The company must be a tax resident in Singapore for that YA;
  3. The company must not have more than 20 shareholders throughout the basis period for that YA where:
    • all of the shareholders are individuals "beneficially and directly" holding the shares in their own names; or
    • at least one shareholder is an individual "beneficially and directly" holding at least 10% of the issued ordinary shares of the company.

7) Critical Infocomm Technology Resource Programme Plus (CITREP+)

https://www.imda.gov.sg/industry-development/highlights/talent-development/tech-skills-accelerator/critical-infocomm-technology-resource-programme-plus-citrep

Administered by IMDA, through this scheme you can send your employees to get training and/or certification in various IT competencies at a subsidized cost.

The sponsoring organisation must be incorporated or registered in Singapore.

Assuming your company is sponsoring your employees training, these are the relevant caps:

Limitations for Singapore CItizens:

For training + certification: Up to 90% of the nett payable course and certification fees, capped at $3,000 per trainee

For Massive Open Online Course (MOOC): Capped at $500 per trainee
Get the full list of CITRP+ endorsed MOOC (https://eservice.imda.gov.sg/icms)

For certification only: Up to 70% of the nett payable certification fees, capped at $500 per trainee

Limitations for PR:

For training and certification: Up to 90% of the nett payable course and certification fees, capped at $3,000 per trainee

For MOOC: Capped at $500 per trainee

For certification only: Up to 70% of the nett payable certification fees, capped at $500 per trainee

Conditions for claim:

For certification fees support, the trainee must pass all examinations required by the certification and achieve the final certification status within 12 months from the commencement date of the first examination.

This grant is suitable for start-up employers looking to enhance their workers’ competency to tackle a new project or to get them certified for a more professional company image.

8) The SME Consulting Programme

http://usaei.smu.edu.sg/usaei/welcome-sme

Administered by the UOB-SMU Asian Enterprise Institute, the SME Consulting Programme is geared towards students in Singapore Management University (SMU). The senior year students will be supervised by a member of faculty or affiliates who are industry experts. Market Research and Branding projects make up a large portion of the programme with other finance and business related projects taking up the remaining portion.

Projects that are approved will receive a subsidy of 80% on the cost of the consulting project.

9) Google Ad Grants for Non-Profits

https://www.google.com/grants/eligibility/

Reach a wider audience for your organization by using Google Ads. With this grant, your website will be pushed to the top of search results and you will get $10,000USD worth of credit to be used for online advertising via Google every month.

How to qualify:

Limitations:

Text-only advertising, no video or image.

10) Business Improvement Fund (BIF)

https://www.stb.gov.sg/assistance-and-licensing/grants/pages/business-improvement-fund-(bif).aspx

Administered by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), this grant is for all Singapore-registered companies who wants to start a project with a strong focus on the tourism industry. Applicants are advised to first provide an executive summary of their proposed project to STB for an eligibility check, and then proceeding with the application after getting the go-ahead from STB.

SMEs will receive up to 70% reimbursement for qualifying costs while non-SME will receive up to 50% reimbursement. Qualifying costs include most costs incurred directly for the project except marketing, maintenance and off-the-shelf packaged solutions.

Your company should either be:

Proposed project to fall into one of these categories:

Projects that have already started prior to application for the grant may not be eligible (up to STB’s discretion).The exact grant amount is subject to STB’s evaluation of the project. Reimbursement is dependent on the achievement of project deliverables and milestones.

11) Enhanced Work-Life Grant for Flexible Work Arrangements

https://www.mom.gov.sg/employment-practices/good-work-practices/work-life-grant

If work-life balance is already part of your company’s motto, you are halfway to being eligible for this grant! The grant aims to improve the work-life balance of workers in Singapore through the sustained use of flexible work arrangements (FWA). The flexible work arrangements should be formalized and openly offered by the company for its full-time permanent employees. The FWAs recognised for this grant include flexi-load, flexi-place and flexi-time. Other FWAs may be considered on a case-by-case basis. The work-life grant is cap at $105,000 per company over 2 years.

You will not be eligible for this grant if you had obtained the Age Management grant under WorkPro.

There are 2 qualifying components to this grant. Note that there are caps within each component as well. Applicants can apply through either/both component:

FWA Incentive:

Incentivise companies to sustain implementation of FWAs for their local employees.

Job Sharing Incentive:

Incentivise employers to implement job sharing for employees at PMET-level with gross monthly salary of at least $3,600, before job sharing arrangement.

To claim under the job sharing component, these are the documents you need:

  1. Proof of adoption of the Tripartite Standards on FWAs
  2. Proof of the job sharing arrangement, including a claim form completed by each employee claimed and the employees taking on the redistributed work, as well as other supporting documents to reflect the change such as employee’s salary and working hours before and after the job sharing arrangement
  3. Impact evaluation report
  4. List of employee(s) who is/are on job sharing arrangements
  5. Copies of employees’ employment contracts, CPF Form 90 and payslips before and after job sharing

Basic requirements for both components:

A totally fresh startup may find the above points difficult to fulfill or document for grant application. However a slightly older startup may find it much easier to qualify for the grant. You may apply through either of the 2 WorkPro programme partners - e2i by NTUC or Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF).

FAQ document available.

12) Development Assistance

https://www.imda.gov.sg/industry-development/programmes-and-grants/development-assistance

Development Assistance by IMDA provides funding for the development of innovative prototypes /pilot content of original IPs, integrating the use of data and/or digital technologies. IMDA will support up to 70% of a project’s qualifying costs that are directly linked to the project. The final grant amount will be determined by IMDA after project evaluation. Disbursement of grant through GIRO will be made only after pre-approved milestones have been met.

How to qualify:

Costs incurred with regards to a related-party must be declared during application. Examples of related-parties include subsidiary companies and joint ventures. For a complete list, refer to Financial Reporting Standard (FRS) 24. IMDA recommends getting help from a professional accountant to do your declaration. Related-party transaction incurred by grant applicants, that had not been declared to IMDA and approved by IMDA, would not be funded.

13) Inclusive Growth Programme (IGP)

https://e2i.com.sg/businesses/inclusive-growth-programme-igp/

The IGP aims to help companies redesign and improve operational productivity. It was started by the Labour Movement in 2010 and managed by NTUC’s e2i. All businesses, societies and associations registered in Singapore and carrying out businesses or activities in Singapore may apply for IGP support. Successful applicants will get support for up to 50% of productivity improvement costs or up to $300,000 grant per project. The total amount a company can get is limited to $1 million over 2 years. The total grant will be disbursed in 2 tranches: 30% upon project approval and 70% upon final deliverables.

Fundable components include:

You are expected to explain in the proposal how your productivity improvement projects will share the gains with local low-wage employees (defined as Singapore citizens or PRs earning $1,700 or less per month) as that is a key criteria for eligibility. Deliverables include clear productivity outcomes, such as increase in output AND sustainable gain-sharing for workers in terms of wage increases and/or variable performance bonus.

The company is not allowed to downsize the workers.

14) Amazon Web Services (AWS) Activate

https://aws.amazon.com/activate/

AWS is a cloud services platform providing IT infrastructure for businesses. No matter which stage of growth your company is at, they offer a variety of cloud computing services to suit your needs.

Under the Activate scheme, there are 2 packages for startups in selected incubators: Portfolio and Portfolio Plus. You are advised to contact your programme director on eligibility and application process as these packages are open to all sectors.

Under Portfolio package you may receive:

Portfolio Plus package:

The credit could be used to purchase other cloud computing services on AWS for your business. While there is no strict rule against multiple applications from the same company for these packages, you may not be eligible for the promotional credit if this is your second or more application.

Not under a selected incubator programme? AWS also provide a “Free Tier” for business owners to try out their services/ solutions. Take note that some services are only free for 12 months (after which you will be charged the normal cost) while some are tagged “Always Free”.

The 12 months free services are only available to new AWS sign ups. “Always Free” section are open to both old and new users of AWS.

Lastly, you are not allowed to create multiple accounts for the purpose of getting free services/ trials.


Discontinued Grants (2018)

With so many new grants on the block and more on the way, it is inevitable that some of the older grants will be discontinued. Here are 3 of the most popular grants that will have their official end in 2018.

Capability Development Grant (CDG)

https://spring.enterprisesg.gov.sg/Resources/Documents/Brochure_Capability_Development_Grant.pdf

To be merged as part of EDG launched on 25 Oct.

Production and Innovation Credit Scheme (PIC)

https://www.iras.gov.sg/irashome/Schemes/Businesses/Productivity-and-Innovation-Credit-Scheme/Expiry-of-PIC-Scheme-after-YA-2018---How-to-determine-the-dates-of-the-expenditure-incurred-for-claiming-PIC-Cash-Payout/

After running its course for 8 years, PIC will end after YA 2018.

Innovation and Capability Voucher (ICV)

https://icv.enterprisesg.gov.sg/ICV/Home/SME

Phased out. FYI claims window for projects approved after 1 July 2018 has been extended to 31 December 2018. No further extensions will be given.


Investment Funding

Sometimes, grant amounts may not be sufficient for you to kick start your business. Moreover, certain grants are very strict on the one-grant-for-one-project qualifying condition. Perhaps you are thinking of other funding possibilities. If you are comfortable with investment companies holding shares in your startup, and are looking for a higher level of funding, here are some options for you to consider.

1) Startup SG Tech

https://ssg.startupsg.net/startupsg-tech/

Also part of the Startup SG his grant aims to support local SMEs that are developing new technology as part of their business model. Once application is approved, entrepreneurs will receive 20% of total grant amount. A share subscription rights of 50% of awarded grant (cap at 49% of total shares of company) by ESG or its appointed nominees will be applied with each equity financing round. Shares will be divested during the next round. It can be combined with Startup SG Equity.

2) Startup SG Equity

https://ssg.startupsg.net/startupsg-equity/

This is a co-equity investment scheme. Funds will be administered by SEEDS Capital who will also own shares in the start-up. Entrepreneurs are expected to either approach a SEEDS Capital partner investor or bring in their own third-party investor. SEEDS Capital is looking at an investment period of 5-7 years after which various exit options are available.

3) Innovation Cybersecurity Ecosystem at Block 71

https://ice71.sg/

ICE71 is an integrated cyber security startup hub in singapore. It was founded by Singtel Innov8 and NUS Enterprises and partnered with CyLon. Under ICE71, there are 2 programmes where investment funding are available: ICE71 ACCELERATE and ICE71 SCALE.

4) Raise Impact Finance (RIF)

https://www.raise.sg/raise-impact-finance.html

RIF aims to develop the social enterprise sector in Singapore through capital investment. The focus of its evaluation process is highly based on the breadth/depth of social impact your proposal can generate.

5) Red Dot Ventures (RDV)

http://reddotventures.com/about.html

Located at Launchpad@OneNorth, RDV prides itself on being a top-notch incubator for tech start-ups in Singapore. RDV was also chosen to collaborate with the National Research Foundation (NRF) to provide the Technology Incubation Scheme (TIS) a few years ago.

6) WaveMaker Labs

https://wavemaker.vc/

Its is a venture capitalist firm supported by the NRF and dual headquartered in Singapore and Los Angeles. The focus of WaveMaker Labs is on tech companies.

7) The Biofactory

http://www.thebiofactory.com/invest

Biofactory is a biomedical incubator based in Singapore with a focus on research and technology in the field.

8) Get2volume

http://www.g2vaccelerator.com/about.html

Get2Volume invests in tech startups in Singapore. It was also a selected partner for NRF’s TIS scheme.

9) Golden Gate Ventures

http://goldengate.vc/

Founded by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, Golden Gate Ventures invests in several internet and mobile startups across sectors in Asia. invests in internet & mobile startups across many sectors

10) Jungle Ventures

http://www.jungle-ventures.com/

JV is a Singapore based venture firm investing in companies in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and India.

11) Incuvest

https://www.incuvest.asia/

Incuvest is an investment and incubator company in Singapore. It invests in early stage tech startups across Asia.

12) Angel Investment Network

https://www.investmentnetwork.sg/

This is an online platform where global investors and entrepreneurs connect. Pitch your idea here and get it across the world.


When applying for any of these grants or investments, you will have to answer questions about your business and your products or service platform. Solution Architecture helps to make your business and technical plans clear through research, scoping and planning. Showing that you have thoroughly planned out your business can greatly help your chances of success when applying for a grant or pitching to investors. Find out more about Solution Architecture here.

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