More help is underway for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to innovate and transform, as part of the Government’s ongoing efforts to ensure local firms can emerge stronger from the COVID-19 crisis.
The Innovation Advisors Programme (IAP), for instance, will be expanded to cover new sectors such as manufacturing and logistics, said the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI).
The initiative first launched in 2019 as the Innovation Agents Programme connects firms with industry experts who can advise them on how to innovate and grow. This is not the first time the IAP is expanded, having had aerospace and Infocomm technology sectors added to its list previously after an initial focus on food manufacturing and medical technology.
By December last year, 17 advisers have been appointed to advise companies on 17 projects.
Speaking at MTI’s Committee of Supply debate, Second Minister for Trade and Industry Tan See Leng said the Government wants to do more to help SMEs with innovation and the commercialisation of research and development. One critical aspect is providing them with the “know-how”.
“Our Innovation Advisors Programme facilitates the ‘know-how’ by appointing experts from various fields to SMEs to impart relevant advice and networks,” he said, adding that other ongoing initiatives such as the Technology for Enterprise Capability Upgrading programme will enable smaller companies to access research talent.
Specialised advisory services will also be piloted at SME Centres to support firms in the areas of digitalisation and financing, announced Minister of State for Trade and Industry Low Yen Ling.
SMEs VS MNCs
SMEs have been given S$21 billion in grants over the last five years, compared with the S$13 billion granted to multinational corporations (MNCs), said Minister of Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing in a speech during the same debate.
He was responding to a question from MP Leon Perera (WP-Aljunied) about the grants given to MNCs and SMEs. Mr Perera also suggested having a “conditional incentive” for MNCs to work with their smaller counterparts.
The minister said looking only at relative grant amounts versus returns and value-adds would be over-simplifying the situation.
This is because the relationship between MNCs and local firms is often symbiotic, as MNCs that do well are more likely to work with local companies.
The Government also encourages MNCs to work with SMEs through the existing PACT programme. “(This) supports knowledge transfer between larger companies and local SMEs or start-ups. We will do more where it makes sense to,” said Mr Chan.
Source: Channel News Asia