With the backing from the government body Enterprise Singapore (ESG) last year, Singapore firms could create S$17.3 billion in value added, which is 69 per cent higher than the value added in 2018.
At the ‘Enterprise Singapore Year-in-Review: Achievements in 2019 and Plans Going Forward’ event at Solaris on Friday (7 Feb), ESG supported 13,560 projects and reached out to 11,450 businesses in 2019. The support by ESG is tipped to increase skilled jobs by 21,700, which is more than double the job creation figure of 2019.
ESG was formed in 2018 from the merger of Spring Singapore and International Enterprise Singapore. The role of ESG is to enhance productivity, innovation and internationalisation.
In 2019, the number of supported projects increased by 52 per cent compared to 2018. This is fuelled by more capability-building efforts and higher productivity among small and micro businesses.
Two of the schemes offered by ESG are the Enterprise Development Grant and the Productivity Solutions Grant. The Enterprise Development Gant offers more costly expansion and upgrading efforts whereas the Productivity Solutions Grant offers digitalisation options and off-the-shelf automation for businesses.
ESG reported that in 2019, it completed 10,000 productivity-related projects that assisted around 8,300 firms primarily in the services sector such as trade, lifestyle and transport which allowed these firms to rely on less manpower.
At the international arena, direct on-the-ground assistance to 600 projects mainly in Southeast Asia and China which should bring about S$8.9 billion in overseas investments and S$8.8 billion in overseas sales. On the whole, through 3,000 projects, ESG assisted 2,600 firms to launch abroad.
Last year, ESG launched its other ambitious initiatives in July and December which are the two rounds of Scale-up SG. The initiatives aim to facilitate home-grown firms which have the potential for high growth to rapidly expand.
In addition, ESG has also expanded its 13-city strong Global Innovation Alliance network to four additional sites in 2019. This has assisted 100 small tech companies and startups to find opportunities and partners abroad.
Png Cheong Boon, the ESG Chief Executive was optimistic about the yearly figures and remarked that firms invested in competitiveness and resilience even in times of “global uncertainties and domestic challenges” last year. The country was struggling with the slower economic growth caused by the US-China trade tensions.
At the moment, the country is staggering from the Coronavirus, Mr Png stated that “our immediate priority is to assist enterprises” as they brace for the impact of the novel coronavirus, and that firms, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises should not cease in their investments in productivity, innovation and transformation.
“Only by doing so will they be able to compete locally and overseas, and better position themselves…For, when the recovery comes, while there will be pent-up demand, we need to recognise that there will also be pent-up supply competing for new businesses to make up for the lost revenue,” Mr Png concluded.
The Chairman of ESG, Peter Ong echoed similarly that “given the size of our market, Singapore enterprises cannot afford to not seek out opportunities globally. In fact, situations such as the coronavirus and geopolitical risks make it even more critical for enterprises to diversify their businesses and markets.”