11,450 Singapore enterprises stepped up transformation efforts amid a challenging 2019
By: Hitesh Khan/
Despite the challenging economic conditions in 2019, 11,450 enterprises embarked on 13,560 projects to raise productivity, enhance innovation and accelerate internationalisation, reported Enterprise Singapore. Enterprise Singapore expects a total of S$17.3 billion in value added and 21,700 PMET jobs to be generated through these projects.
Small- and medium-sized Singapore enterprises (SMEs) undertook the majority of these projects. Both the number of enterprises and projects supported increased significantly (43% and 52% respectively) over 2018.
Productivity and capability building projects increased by 85% as compared to 2018. These were undertaken by 8,300 enterprises, with majority from the services sectors – lifestyle, trade, transport and logistics – to improve business processes and be more manpower lean. Many of these efforts to automate and digitalise were done through easy-to-adopt solutions supported under the Productivity Solutions Grant.
The number of innovation projects remained consistent, with 550 enterprises supported last year. Enterprises have benefitted from connections with technology resources and experts, as well as participation in open innovation calls and collaborations with public and large private sector organisations. Enterprise Singapore’s network of Centres of Innovation (COIs) assisted 120 enterprises on 180 innovation projects.
Some 2,000 startups benefitted from mentorship, incubation opportunities and funding through Enterprise Singapore’s Startup SG programmes and partners. Enterprise Singapore further strengthened the startup ecosystem with the appointment of 17 new Accredited Mentor Partners (AMPs) and 23 accelerators across food manufacturing, agri-tech, edutech, healthcare and biomedical, and transport and logistics sectors to groom high growth startups.
Of the 3,000 internationalisation projects undertaken by 2,600 enterprises, 60% was by enterprises in the wholesale trade, professional services, ICT (information and communications technology) and retail sectors. ESG facilitated and provided on-the-ground assistance to 600 projects, which are expected to bring about S$8.8 billion of overseas sales and S$8.9 billion of overseas investments. China and Southeast Asia remained the top markets of interest based on the projects Enterprise Singapore facilitated.
Enterprise Singapore also enhanced its international connections to help more startups and tech SMEs access overseas collaboration and innovation opportunities by expanding its Global Innovation Alliance (GIA) network to four new cities (Shanghai, Ho Chi Minh City, Bangalore and London) in 2019. The GIA network now spans across 13 cities in 10 markets.
Working with partners to enhance the industry and Singapore Enterprises ecosystem
To reach out to more enterprises at the industry and enterprise-level, ESG also partnered key multipliers such as SME Centres, Trade Associations and Chambers (TACs) and financial institutions.
- SME Centres assisted over 28,000 enterprises through business advisory services and capability development efforts;
- TACs co-led 3,360 enterprises on 230 overseas missions and tradeshows to seek new opportunities and partners;
- Enterprise Singapore worked with 25 financial institutions to extend S$2.2 billion worth of loans, with Enterprise Singapore sharing the loan default risk to 7,900 enterprises. More than 90% tapped the Enterprise Financing Scheme (EFS) – Working Capital Loan for SMEs.
Outlook for 2020
ESG said that it is encouraged by the efforts of Singapore enterprises to transform and keep growing, even amid the challenging socio-economic and geo-political environment. In 2020, Enterprise Singapore said it will continue to support enterprises, especially SMEs, in productivity and capability upgrading, innovation and business transformation, to help them build resilience and remain globally competitive. Enterprise Singapore recognise the current challenges that Singapore enterprises face both globally and domestically, and will work closely with enterprises to overcome these.
Enterprise Singapore said it will also focus on helping enterprises across different sizes and stages of growth to make internationalisation a core strategy, especially to support first timers expand overseas at an earlier stage, and those who are already overseas to deepen and diversify international footprint. ESG will work with partners to help SMEs strengthen their internationalisation capabilities and grow the pipeline of global-ready talent.
To support business transformation, ESG will develop more business leaders by equipping them with the relevant knowledge; and help workers upgrade their skills in tandem with enterprise transformation efforts.
To reach out and support more enterprises in their growth journey, Enterprise Singapore will also aim to strengthen its partner networks both locally and globally.
Commenting on the Enterprise Singapore report, Mr Paul Ho, Chief mortgage officer at iCompareLoan, said, “startups need mentorship, incubation opportunities and funding and I am glad that ESG is providing this. Any business which refuse to upskill and use technology will eventually become redundant to the market and to their customers.”
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