SINGAPORE (Mar 26): Promising start-ups in Singapore can now tap on the $285 million set aside to help them sustain their innovation and entrepreneurship endeavours.

Under this scheme, the government will use the funds to match private investments made to start-ups, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announced in his Fortitude Budget speech on Tuesday.

The move is in addition to the $300 million previously set aside in Start SG Equity scheme unveiled under the Unity Budget on Feb 18. The scheme serves to aid deep-tech start-ups gain better access to capital, expertise and industry networks.

Heng elaborated that this follows feedback from business leaders that some startups are “finding it hard to raise capital and develop their business”. This is in spite of the enhanced financing support previously rendered in the supplementary Resilience and Solidarity Budgets announced on May 26 and Apr 6 respectively.

“Left unaddressed, this could set back our efforts and result in the loss of good jobs and good companies. It is important to bring in graduating students and build up their talent bases,” added Heng.

He also mentioned that finance support schemes unveiled in previous budgets have had “high” take-up rates, with some 5,000 benefitting from them so far. This translates to a total $4.5 billion disbursed in loans. 

Meanwhile, Heng went on to dole out over $500 million to support businesses in their digital transformation efforts. 

Here, eligible businesses can receive a payout of up to $5,000 if they adopt PayNow Corporate and e-invoicing platforms, as well as other e-commerce solutions.

The initiative will be first introduced to the food and beverage (F&B) and retail sectors which have been the most affected by the circuit breaker measures restricting the operations of these non-essential, consumer-facing services.

“We will enhance our support for businesses which are ready to take their basic payment and invoicing functions digital. This will be coupled with support to keep their business running and even acquire new revenue lines,” Heng stressed.

Meanwhile, businesses with basic digital capabilities looking to deepen their digitalisation take up, will get more support when they use advanced digital tools. Such goals will be supported under $5,000 parker in the additional tier of the Digital Resilience Bonus.

Another $250 million will be set aside to support businesses digitalise in partnership with platform solution providers and industry champions. Such moves include the development of offline-to-online business models and the creation of new domestic revenue streams.

Heng added that the government will also give businesses currently not using digital tools, a gentle nudge.

For instance, a monthly $300 bonus will be given to hawkers for five months to encourage more stallholders in hawker centres, wet markets, coffee shops and industrial canteens to use e-payments.

This is part of the government’s stance that “those who are willing to transform will not be left behind,” said Heng.

Receive more updates on the Fortitude Budget here.

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