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Singapore government funding & grants for entrepreneurs

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Startups need some support and nurturing to blossom into a profit-making venture. Fortunately, for Singapore owned startups, the future looks quite promising as there is a plethora of government funding and grants being provided by the Singaporean government.

However, the number of government schemes for entrepreneurs in Singapore can sometimes mean it’s difficult to navigate. To help you out, here is a short summary of the best government schemes for startups in Singapore.

ACE Startups Grant

Who can apply: first-time entrepreneurs

 

This grant is backed by the Action Community for Entrepreneurs (ACE). Though the management of the ACE is now in private hands, their startup grant is still backed by the Singapore government for the foreseeable future.

 

Through the ACE grant, a startup can be funded up to S$50,000. However, the startup’s funds will have to match this amount before the funding is released. Moreover, eligibility for this grant is limited to only first-time entrepreneurs. The good news is that it is not limited to tech startups but is open for all.

(Find out more about the ACE Startups Grant.)

Capability Development Grant (CDG)

Who can apply:

  • Registered and operating in Singapore and
  • Have at least 30% local shareholding and
  • Group annual sales turnover is less than S$100 million or have group employment for less than 200 employees

Another initiative by Enterprise Singapore, the CDG is more general in nature as it is open to any small or medium enterprise that is incorporated and working in Singapore. Through the CDG, a startup can acquire funds for up to 70% of the cost of a new product design or its manufacture. Funding can also be released for ancillary activities such as consultancy, cost of certification or training of personnel. The maximum amount of funding for a single startup is capped at S$30,000.

(Find out more about the CDG.)

Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC)

Who can apply:

  • All Singapore-registered business entities are eligible (you can either choose tax deductions/allowances or the cash payout option)
  • Incurred qualifying expenditure and are entitled to PIC during the basis period of qualifying YA
  • For cash payout: The entity must have at least 3 regular employees with CPF contributions, excluding sole proprietors, partners under contract of service and shareholders who are also directors of the company.

This unique scheme from the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore works on a cash payout/tax deduction model in which a startup can claim 400% tax deductions up to S$ 400,000 or 40% cash payout up to S$100,000. The scheme is available only for one Year of Assessment and covers all business activities from R&D and Registration to cost of equipment and personnel training costs.

(Find out more about the PIC via the IRAS website.)

Financial Sector Technology and Innovation (FSTI) Scheme

Who can apply:

  • A Financial Institution licensed, regulated, supervised or registered by MAS or
  • A technology or solution provider (including startups, professional services and consultancy firms) with at least 1 Financial Institution licensed by MAS sponsoring the project.

Launched by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the FSTI Scheme has total funding of S$225 million available with it. Its aim is to enable financial institutions to set up innovation labs so that they can contribute to the development of technology infrastructure and innovation solutions. The amount of funding for a single financial institution is capped at S$200,000 for 18 months.

 

(Find out more about the FSTI scheme)

Other government assistance

The Singapore government has also backed an entity called the Startup SG which is a hub for connecting all the schemes of the government and providing area-specific assistance to startups meeting their individual requirement. Check out some of its components below.

The scheme matches every dollar raised by a startup with $3 which can turn out to be a big confidence booster for a new startup. They also have some mentorship programs for new startups who need a nudge in the right direction.

Startups who are dabbling in tech sectors like robotics, biotech, clean technology, precision engineering etc. can gain a lot with the help of this scheme. A proof of concept and proof of value is required though to be eligible for this assistance.

Under this scheme, the government will co-invest in a startup if they can get a private investor who puts in S$ 50,000 into their equity.

The government has also extended assistance to startups by providing an impetus to incubators and accelerators who are responsible for speedy growth and development of a startup.

Tax Breaks for newly incorporated companies

 

From YA 2010 to YA 2019 (Maximum exemption for each YA is $200,000)

 

CHARGEABLE INCOME

% EXEMPTED FROM TAX

AMOUNT EXEMPTED

First $100,000

100%

$100,000

Next $200,000

50%

$100,000

In or after YA 2020  (Maximum exemption for each YA is $125,000)

 

CHARGEABLE INCOME

% EXEMPTED FROM TAX

AMOUNT EXEMPTED

First $100,000

75%

$75,000

Next $100,000

50%

$50,000

To qualify for this tax exemption, the startup should be incorporated in Singapore and be a tax resident of Singapore. Also, it should not have more than 20 shareholders and at least 1 shareholder should be holding at least 10% of the company’s shares.

Next steps

We know that finding money can be an exhausting prospect – after all, cash is the lifeblood of your business. Fortunately, Singapore is considered one of the best places for startups to get started and receive support.

 

Take a look at our Funding section of our Resources page to get more ideas and tips, and sign up to our newsletter to get the latest news on government grants, funding, and more.

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