Budget announcement on initiatives to help SMEs embrace technology
More than $80 million will be made available to transform both large and small businesses and to help develop digital capabilities as new technology is increasingly disrupting and impacting businesses, especially SMEs.
In Budget 2017, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat introduced the SMEs Go Digital Programme to help SMEs build digital capabilities. The SMEs Go Digital programme will be led by IMDA, SPRING and other sector lead agencies to develop industry digital plans and comprises three initiatives:
- SMEs to get advice at each stage of their digital transformation through the sectoral Industry Digital Plans (IDPs). The initiative will start with sectors where digital technology is able to significantly improve productivity. The first 6 sectors to benefit from this scheme are Retail, Food Services, Wholesale Trade, Logistics, Cleaning and Security.
- SMEs will get in-person help at SME Centres and a new SME Technology Hub will be set up by IMDA. SMEs can seek advice on off-the-shelf technology solutions that are pre-approved for funding support, or gain access to ICT vendors and experts at SME Centres. Digitally advanced SMEs can get specialist advice from the SME Technology Hub.
- SMEs that are ready to pilot emerging ICT solutions can receive advice and funding support.
SiTF sees the setting up of a Technology Hub as a positive move and will also continue to work closely with its various partners to facilitate the journey SMEs are taking digitally.
Saw Ken Wye, SiTF’s Chairman, “Many SMEs face challenges adopting technology and lack expertise to cope with what they see as a complex and changing digital landscape. They want to innovate but lack the resources to make an informed decision on investments or do not have sufficient funds to do so.”
He applauded the setting up of the Technology Hub. "The Technology Hub is a positive step and recognises the need for SMEs to get more support in this area. SiTF is well positioned to create a collaborative environment by linking up with government agencies, other sector trade associations and member companies to help SMEs in their digital journey.”
Another field of focus is in data and cybersecurity. The government will strengthen capabilities in cybersecurity, with The Cyber Security Agency (CSA) of Singapore working with professional bodies to train and groom cybersecurity professionals.
SiTF Council member and Cyber Security Chapter Chairman, Tammie Tham said, “Like all mature economies, SMEs are not the most cyber-ready or cyber-safe companies. They either lack the resources or the expertise to defend against cyber threats. It’s a good sign that our Government through CSA is investing resources to help our SMEs in this area. Very often, SMEs are exploited as conduits to the larger companies. By helping them, we are taking steps to ensure that our companies do their part in defending our cyber space.”
In the drive towards innovation, A*STAR which champions Singapore’s R&D work, will expand its efforts to support 400 companies over the next four years to conduct operation and technology road-mapping as well as help SMEs identify how technology can help with innovation and compete.
In improving SME’s access to intellectual property (IP), Intellectual Property Intermediary (IPI) will work with SMEs to analyse and bundle complementary IP. A*STAR, through its Headstart Programme will allow SMEs, with which it co-develops IP, to enjoy royalty-free and exclusive licenses for 36 months, up from the previous 10 months.
A Tech Access Initiative will be introduced where A*STAR will provide access to advanced and costly machine tools for prototyping and testing with user training and guidance.
Lau Shih Hor, Councillor at SiTF feels this will benefit SMEs.“Tech Access Initiative is a welcome measure to lower the entry barrier for SMEs to explore new potential products with advanced machine tools for prototyping and testing, which otherwise could be cost prohibitive for many,” he said.
Source: Budget2017 Speech
To decipher the impact of Budget 2017 on businesses, SiTF has organized for a forum on 14 Mar where experts will offer insights on the new measures.
Click here to register: http://220.127.116.11/~sitforg/edm/Budget_2017/
Useful links for businesses on Singapore Budget 2017:
Budget 2017 in brief: http://www.singaporebudget.gov.sg/budget_2017/BudgetMeasures/BudgetInBrief.aspx
All you need to know about Budget 2017: https://app.singaporebudget.gov.sg/budget_2017/home.aspx
Singapore Budget 2017: 7 measures that stood out for companies