In the recent 2017 Budget Speech by Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, he announced a new government initiative “SMEs Go Digital Programme” targeted at small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Essentially, the government is setting aside over S$80 million for this initiative to help SMEs go digital, with more focus on data and cybersecurity.
The Finance Minister also mentioned in his speech that the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) will work closely with SPRING as well as other sector lead agencies in this initiative.
Additionally, he also mentioned that, “With increased digitalisation, data will become an important asset for firms, and strong cybersecurity is needed for our networks to function smoothly. The Cyber Security Agency (CSA) of Singapore will work with professional bodies to train cybersecurity professionals.”
The SMEs Go Digital Programme will consist of these three components:
- Sectoral Industry Digital Plans which will provide SMEs step-by-step advice on the technologies to use at each stage of their growth. These plans will start with targeted sectors, including retail, food services, wholesale trade and logistics. Additionally, these sectors were identified as sectors where digital technology can significantly improve productivity.
- An SME Technology Hub will be set up by the IMDA whereby firms can get free business advice and access information on government schemes. Companies can also approach advisers at the existing network of SME centres for off-the-shelf technology solutions. Moreover, firms that require more specialised advice will be able to seek help at the SME Technology Hub.
- SMEs that are ready to pilot emerging ICT solutions can also receive advice and funding support under this initiative.
On top of this initiative, the Minister also announced the continuation of the SME Working Capital Loan for another two years. Under this programme, the government co-shares 50% of default risk for loans of up to S$300,000 per SME.
Moreover, the Minister also introduced the Tech Access Initiative for small companies that would like to do prototyping. Together with A*STAR, they will provide access and training for small companies to use their advanced machine tools for prototyping and testing. This initiative will be available from September 2017.
With these various initiatives targeted at SMEs, it will certainly help boost the digital capabilities of SMEs even further.
More information on these initiatives and the Budget speech can be found here.
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