Singapore is encouraging its Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to embrace digital technology. The $80 million SMEs Go Digital (SGD) programme was launched in 2017 to spur SMEs in transforming their business towards greater digitalisation. The programme received a boost in the recent Budget 2019 with further expansion in scope and initiatives. The scheme will also be extended for another two years to March 2021.
At the heart of the SGD programme, there are 2 main components:
- Industry Digital Plans
- Pre-approved digital solution
Industry Digital Plans (IDPs)
The IDPs are step-by-step plans set up to assist SMEs in their adoption of digital solutions. Each IDPs is adjusted according to different sectors. As of end 2018, IDPs have been developed for 7 sectors: environmental services, retail, food services, wholesale trade, logistics, security, and media. More IDPs are being planned with construction, accountancy and sea transport to be added into the scheme.
SMEs are encouraged to look into their respective sector’s IDP as a guide to find out if their business is digital-ready. They can take a self-test to find out how digital-ready their business is and the steps required to further their digital efforts.
Pre-approved digital solution
The government has also provided a list of pre-approved digital solutions for SMEs to adopt. These solutions are supported by approved vendors and have been assessed to be effective and relevant to businesses.
Initially, these solutions are focused on improving the productivity of SMEs. Now, the range of solutions has been expanded to support SMEs in growing their businesses as well as capturing new business opportunities. These solutions include new areas such as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and cloud solutions.
For further information on these digital solutions, SMEs can approach business advisors at the various SME Centres. These advisors will provide basic consultancy and guidance on pre-approved digital solutions for SMEs.
To further complement these SME Centres, the SME Digital Tech Hub was set up by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA). The Hub served to provide more specialised advice on areas such as data analytics, data protection, cybersecurity and internet-of-things (IOTs).
SMEs who want to adopt these solutions can obtain support from the Productivity Solutions Grant. For pre-scoped productivity solutions, eligible companies can obtain grants up to 70% of the productivity solution and equipment. In addition, they can claim up to 70% of out-of-pocket SkillsFuture training expenses, capped at $10,000. This is on top of existing government course fee subsidies.
On top of the Productivity Solutions Grant, the government has also introduced several business grants such as Enterprise Development Grant (EDG) and Market Readiness Assistance (MRA) Grant.
Besides the SGD programme, the government has also introduced the “Start Digital” initiative which provides cost waiver of a minimum of 6 months for two out of 5 core business functions in accounting, human resource management system and payroll, digital marketing, digital transactions and cybersecurity.