March 7, 2021

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Technology, Innovation & Enterprise dominate Economic Growth Strategy in Budget 2020

In the budget speech 2020 delivered by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Mr Heng Swee Keat said that the Singapore economy will be one driven by innovation and digitalisation.

He said that Singapore will serve as a launchpad for multi-nationals and regional corporates to access Asia, and for Asian enterprises to go global.

He added that Singapore enterprises will compete on value, reach new customers and that these enterprises will be powered by a skilled, adaptable and Asia-ready workforce.

To support this vision, the Minister said he would put in place a set of measures to drive the National Transformation and Growth strategy. These focused on enabling stronger partnerships, deepening enterprise capabilities and developing citizens.

“Including sums allocated in previous years, I am allocating a total of $8.3 billion over the next three years to enable Transformation and Growth.”

Enabling Stronger Partnerships Globally

Singapore has an extensive network of economic ties including Free Trade Agreements, International Investment Agreements, and Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreements. For example, Minister Indranee signed the latest Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement with Indonesia earlier this month.

The Government is also enhancing its digital connectivity to create new value. An example of this is how Singapore Customs is connecting the Networked Trade Platform with the customs portals of trading partners.
Last month, Singapore concluded the first Digital Economy Agreement with Chile and New Zealand to foster interoperability, and address issues like artificial intelligence governance to enable more trade.

The digitalisation of finance will also open up new ways of doing business. Between 2015 and 2019, annual investments in FinTech have risen six-fold to over $1 billion. Players from different domains and around the region are coming together to bid for MAS’s digital banking licences.

Partnerships within Singapore – turning ideas into new businesses with global potential

Under the Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2020 Plan, the government are sustaining investment into promising ideas which include artificial intelligence, industrial robotics, urban solutions and sustainability, and biomedical sciences.

The Minister highlighted how through partnerships among the Government, industry and the research community, Singapore is turning ideas into new businesses with global potential.

  • Singapore was one of the first cities to allow autonomous vehicle, or AV, testing on public roads. Many AV players have set up here, testing their technologies with the National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University, seeking to win the global race.
  • In the biomedical industry, the number of startups has doubled from 2014. More than 300 biomedical startups are now bringing discoveries from bench to bedside and looking to export them to the region.
  • Research institutes are part of the global fight against COVID-19, developing diagnostic kits already in use here and sent to China. This is one of the fruits of our long-term investments in research and innovation.

Improved support for deep-tech startups.

There are about 3,800 technology startups in Singapore, and about 150 venture capital funds investing in startups in Singapore and in the region. The startup ecosystem in Singapore is ranked in the top 15 globally in the Global Startup Ecosystem report.

Deep-tech startups are those in emerging technology areas such as pharmbio and medtech, advanced manufacturing, and agri-food tech. They have a high potential to be competitive and stimulate innovation in their sectors. But these startups need larger investments, longer gestation periods, and face higher risks. Investors are hence less prepared to invest in deep-tech startups.

“To catalyse investment into deep-tech startups, I will set aside an additional $300 million under the Startup SG Equity. We expect this to draw in more than $800 million of private funding over the next 10 years. This will give deep-tech startups better access to capital, expertise and industry networks. said the Finance Minister”

Growing Small -Medium Enterprises

The Singapore Government have been supporting Small -Medium Enterprises, through schemes such as the SMEs Go Digital programme and The Market Readiness Assistance grant.

“This year, we will enhance support for these enterprises through an Enterprise Grow Package. This Package aims to help enterprises identify business needs, adopt preapproved digital technologies, and take the first steps to enter new markets.”

The first step is to launch the GoBusiness platform, a single touchpoint for enterprises to transact with Government digitally. And then drive greater adoption of digital technology by expanding the SMEs Go Digital programme. The next step will be to help more enterprises enter new markets, the government will enhance the Market Readiness Assistance grant by expanding the funding support and coverage.

Transforming Further – Focus on Business leadership

The Minister said that for enterprises to transform, they need to strengthen their leadership and management capabilities.

He announced that they will introduce an Enterprise Transform Package, with a focus on leadership. Enterprise Singapore will launch the Enterprise Leadership for Transformation Programme, to support business leaders of promising small and medium enterprises in achieving the next bound of growth.

Over the next three years, it aims to support business leaders of 900 enterprises in business transformation, with training and mentorship working with Institutes of Higher Learning, banks, and industry experts, and facilitate collaboration.

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