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Grant extension for environment services technology

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A new grant has been improved and extended to help companies ease up the jobs for their cleaners and other workers, and to provide a safer space for them.

This $30 million Productivity Solutions Grant is aimed at improving productivity in the environmental services sector. It will help companies purchase proven environmentally services technology.

Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor said that this grant has been extended due to the increasing prominence placed on ensuring that public spaces are constantly cleaned, in light of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

The grant, which was to end on Jan 31, has been extended until Feb 28, 2021.

Successful applicants can expect to receive monetary support capped at $350,000, which has been increased to 70 per cent of the qualifying cost, from the initial cap of $250,000 at 50 per cent of the cost.

Companies such as pest management firms can also benefit from this grant.

“In times like these, when we are battling the Covid-19 outbreak, it becomes even more evident that the environmental services sector plays an important role,” said Dr Khor.

She added that the cleaning industry is crucial to helping businesses to maintain high standards of sanitation and hygiene. This grant is a part of efforts made for finding ways to ease the jobs of the workers in the industry, while also making it smarter and safer.

Dr Khor shared that the National Environment Agency (NEA) has been working with companies to evaluate and restructure work processes, as well as to encourage them to adopt technology.

Since the grant was launched in September 2018, NEA has approved 473 applications and committed $7.2 million through it.

NEA has received an additional 300 applications which have a potential grant commitment of $6.1 million.

Despite the total sum of the grants committed being less than half of the full sum of the grant, there is still a significant number of applications coming in which displays the existing demand for the grant.

With the enhancement of this grant and its extension to the pest management sectors, more firms are expected to come on board.

The grant provides companies with 38 supportable equipment and solutions which is a significant increase from 10 which the grant started with.

Jewel Changi Airport, which is one of the successful grant applicants, recently displayed its purchase of the Ecobot machine, an autonomous scrubber. It had purchased six of those machines.

Mr Kelvin Tan, Jewel’s head of user experience shared that the use of this scrubber has allowed cleaners to reallocate their time to other pressing duties such as hourly disinfection, a precautionary measure taken for the virus situation.

Dr Khor announced on Thursday that from May, all government service buyers will now need to uptake outcome-based contracting when procuring cleaning services. This resonates with the government’s commitment to push for the use of the contracting model for cleaning services.

NEA explained that outcome-based contracting centres on producing the desired performance outcomes, instead of the headcount. Service providers can also encourage the adoption and use of technology and innovative solutions.

Dr Khor added that the government will place emphasis on quality. There will be equal or greater weightage given to quality, as compared to the price factor in evaluating tender proposals.

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