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Enterprise Singapore: One-stop help hub

Enterprise Singapore will be a one-stop help centre for companies of all sizes and at different stages of growth.

Speaking at its official launch on Monday, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S Iswaran said: "Enterprise Singapore will work with a broad spectrum of businesses, from startups to SMEs and high-growth companies, and serve as the single point of contact for Singapore-based enterprises which are committed to growth."

He said the new agency, a merger of International Enterprise Singapore and SPRING Singapore, will help companies to upgrade, innovate, transform, adopt new technologies, improve productivity and expand overseas, but the support will be tailored to a company's circumstances.

"Enterprise Singapore will adopt an enterprise-centric approach, providing differentiated programmes and support according to a company's stage of growth, the industry in which it operates and its overseas markets of interest," Mr Iswaran said.

He said while Enterprise Singapore's mission is critical to the success of Singapore's long-term economic strategy, its scope of work is wide - and the scale can be daunting because of the large number of enterprises involved.

"There is a limit as to how many of the over 200,000 enterprises that government agencies can directly engage," he said.

That is why Enterprise Singapore needs private- and public-sector partners - especially trade associations and chambers, unions and other stakeholders.

"They can broaden the reach and magnify the impact of our industry transformation message, thereby enhancing the collective competitiveness of our industries," said the minister.

Enterprise Singapore is essentially an integration of the functions of IE Singapore (to help companies go global) and SPRING (to help develop SMEs). Yet it is also a different approach in helping Singapore enterprises "against the backdrop of greater economic tilt towards Asia; the emergence of new technologies, especially digitisation; and an ageing population".

Kurt Wee, president of the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, told The Business Times that the merger of IE and Spring to form Enterprise Singapore is "a significant structural optimisation for our economic system from many angles".

It provides a convenient one-stop agency for SMEs to turn to for help, "a singular information flow" and "greater streamlined access" to grants and other forms of support for them, he said.

Mr Wee said SMEs have "lots of confidence" in the leadership of Enterprise Singapore because its chief executive Png Cheong Boon, who used to head SPRING and JTC Corporation, understands SMEs from the policy as well as the business point of view.

"JTC has been very important to SMEs," he said. "He (Mr Png) brings to the table a wealth of experience and expertise."

S. S. Teo, the chairman of the Singapore Business Federation (SBF), expressed confidence in Enterprise Singapore's chairman Peter Ong, whom he described as "a staunch pro-enterprise advocate".

He said under the leadership of Mr Ong and Mr Png, "Enterprise Singapore will achieve its objective of helping to grow stronger Singapore companies.

"SBF looks forward to working closely with Enterprise Singapore in its expanded role of helping companies of all sizes from startups to mid-size and large companies to build resilience and stay globally competitive," Mr Teo said.

In his speech on Monday, Mr Png spelled out the ways in which the new agency will help companies. For micro enterprises as well as SMEs which are upgrading for the first time, Enterprise Singapore will provide easy access to advice, information and help through the SME portal.

Assistance programmes will be simplified. Enterprise Singapore has launched the new Productivity Solutions Grant to help micro enterprises to continue to upgrade.

For markets like China, India and South-east Asia, Mr Png said these enterprises can tap into Enterprise Singapore's Plug & Play Network for quick set-up.

As for SMEs, he said the new agency will help them innovate and transform via agencies such as A*Star's research institutes, productivity centres and human capital and leadership programmes.

The Enterprise Development Grant, a consolidation of the existing Capability Development Grant and Global Company Partnership, is customised to help SMEs to upgrade, innovate, transform and globalise.

Mr Png said Enterprise Singapore would also continue to assist large Singapore enterprises to broaden and deepen their global presence.