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Singapore’s much-imitated economic planners have developed international renown for their “hands-off approach” to development. However, this perception is not completely accurate, as the Singaporean government does have schemes and incentives that are intended to encourage the development of key areas in their economy.
Notably, the Singaporean government offers incentives intended to draw the world’s best minds in the world to the microstate. For example, the Entrepreneur Pass Singapore or EntrePass is a special work visa that is intended to encourage the entry of valuable cutting-edge foreign investments. There are also programmes meant to increase the country’s capacity to create indigenous innovations that foreign investors can join.
The Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) oversees several of these schemes and incentives. A number of the EDB’s grants and incentives are open to foreigners, particularly successful entrepreneurs and recognised experts in fields that have been identified as important for Singapore’s future growth.
Below are publicly funded EDB programmes expressly intended to boost innovation, R&D, and capability development in Singapore.
The Singapore Tech.Pass, also known as the Entrepreneur Pass SG or EntrePass is a special visa designed to draw high-value investors to Singapore. This special visa is intended to attract recognised thought leaders, successful entrepreneurs, and tech specialists to Singapore. Individuals may apply for the pass directly.
Holders of a Tech.Pass are entitled to several perks, including but not limited to the following:
This programme is intended to incentivise promising startups and tech companies to establish their headquarters in Singapore. Companies covered by the programme have special consideration when endorsing employment passes. The idea behind Tech@SG is to reduce employment barriers so that the world’s best startup and tech talents can create their innovations within Singapore.
The Tech@SG Programme is jointly administered by the EDB and Enterprise Singapore, a board under the Ministry of Trade and Industry. While the programme currently focuses on strategic tech areas like artificial intelligence, big data, and cybersecurity, businesses with a core model centred around unique hardware or software may qualify. Only businesses with less than 30% local shareholding may receive assistance under the programme.
This programme is meant to increase the R&D and innovation capacities of locally based businesses by assisting them with proven technologies and methods. Additionally, businesses may be able to defray some of the cost of developing R&D capacity, particularly if they are doing research in strategic areas. This is meant to encourage private businesses to invest more in R&D facilities such as laboratories.
The TGC initiative is meant to improve the viability of existing employee training programmes. One of the goals of this grant is to ensure that specific skills and knowledge in emerging technologies and other strategic fields are cultivated. These training grants are also a way for the Singaporean government to ensure that the labour force remains globally competitive and is in a better position to create innovations.
Singapore’s robust intellectual property protection laws are often cited as foundational to its entrepreneurial culture. The IDI is meant to encourage more innovation by further maximising the revenue Singapore-based businesses could derive from their intellectual property.
Singapore’s public grants and incentives are designed to meet very specific goals that go beyond simply encouraging year-over-year growth in revenue and investments. In most cases, they are intended to serve long-term developmental targets.
In stark contrast to similar incentives available in many other countries, the schemes run by the EDB are less concerned with industry protection and are more focused on strengthening Singapore’s domestic capacity to innovate in key areas. As such, many of the schemes are open to foreign investors and entrepreneurs. Some, such as Entrepreneur Pass Singapore, are even intended to draw high-value talents into the country.
The grants and incentives above are just the innovation-focused Singapore government schemes that are overseen by the EDB. Other publicly funded Singaporean institutions may also have grants and incentives that might be relevant to your business. If you’re interested in participating in any government-sponsored innovation schemes, make sure to contact the Singapore Economic Development Board.