SINGAPORE (Sept 5): Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S Iswaran on Tuesday announced the merging of SPRING Singapore and International Enterprise (IE) Singapore to transform the way economic agencies work with local enterprises.

The new government agency, Enterprise Singapore, will integrate SPRING’s focus on building the capabilities of start-ups and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with IE’s development of Singapore as the preferred international trading hub from which companies expand overseas.

“Through Enterprise Singapore, start-ups will not only benefit from the capability development support that SPRING has been providing, but will also be plugged into IE’s international networks, especially in fast growing regional markets,” Iswaran says at the opening of the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) Centre on Tuesday.

“In the digital age, where speed and scale are critical, this will put our start-ups in a much better position to succeed,” he adds.

Png Cheong Boon, second permanent secretary for the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI), has been appointed as the chief executive officer (designate) for Enterprise Singapore. He had previously served in various economic agencies, including as chief executive of Jurong Town Corporation (JTC) and SPRING.

The changes will take effect in the second quarter of 2018.

An MTI spokesperson was quoted as saying that some 960 SPRING and IE employees would be affected by the merger, but stressed that there are not expected to be any retrenchments from the restructuring. 

“We are in a new phase of economic development,” says Iswaran. “With tighter domestic constraints, external demand will be an even more important driver of growth. To tap on these opportunities, our companies must be able to respond nimbly to political and economic shifts, shorter technology cycles, and business model disruptions.”

Through Enterprise Singapore, SMEs will continue to receive the assistance and support that are currently offered under programmes by SPRING and IE.

“For example, Enterprise Singapore can not only support a manufacturing company with a grant to augment its production capacity but also concurrently work with them to develop an export marketing and channel strategy for its increased output,” says Iswaran.

In addition, large local enterprises (LLEs) can work with Enterprise Singapore to strengthen collaboration within their industry clusters and deepen the capabilities of the SMEs that support them. These partnerships can be extended to jointly exploring opportunities in overseas markets.

The Association of Small & Medium Enterprises (ASME) on Tuesday says it welcomed the formation of Enterprise Singapore. “Through this merger, SMEs can benefit from a more seamless and integrated one-stop experience in the dual endeavour of capacity development and internationalisation,” ASME says in a press statement.

As part of the restructuring, SPRING’s role in consumer protection will be taken over by the Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) so that the new economic agency is able to focus on enterprise development.

Enterprise Singapore will also work with the Economic Development Board (EDB) to help formulate and implement strategies for the development of industry clusters and enterprises to enhance the competitiveness of Singapore’s economy.

“With the formation of Enterprise Singapore, we will be better positioned with one consolidated agency to build strong local enterprises and create exciting new jobs for Singaporeans in this new phase of our economic development,” says Iswaran.

“However, no government agency can address the challenges of the future economy on its own,” he adds. “Economic transformation is a national effort that requires the active support of all stakeholders.”