IE S'pore tightens focus on which firms to help expand overseas

IE S'pore tightens focus on which firms to help expand overseas

Singapore - International Enterprise Singapore, in helping home-grown enterprises to venture overseas, is sharpening its focus more on firms that will create more jobs and add more economic value for Singapore.

While the tighter approach may not shrink the number of enterprises on the government agency's help list, it will certainly mean less attention on those which are slow-growing and not so promising, IE Singapore's new chief executive, Lee Ark Boon, told reporters in a media briefing on Thursday.

"They will not have as much face-time with IE Singapore (as before)," he said, adding that the slow-growth companies need to change their mindset and "to do the right thing before they can internationalise".

The agency, which has 500 employees handling some 3,000 companies, has to prioritise because its resources are limited and the demand for IE Singapore grants and assistance is now increasing faster than it can cope, he said.

Giving an update on the "direction" which the agency is taking to help local firms strike out, going forward, Mr Lee said that IE Singapore would apportion more of its limited resources and time to support high-potential or fast-growth firms - those growing faster than the national average of 6 per cent per year - to generate more economic value back home.

Besides creating high-paying skilled jobs at home or abroad for Singaporeans, the agency will also be keen to help local enterprises seeking foreign partnerships or mergers and acquisitions to acquire new businesses, capabilities and technologies that will benefit Singapore, said Mr Lee, who was a deputy secretary at the Ministry of Trade and Industry before his appointment at IE Singapore seven months ago.

"To capture economic value from these high-growth companies, we will sharpen and deepen assistance for them, foster tighter relationships as we bring them to new markets to capture opportunities," the agency said in a media factsheet.

These include help offered through IE Singapore's overseas centres in 39 locations; working with firms to leverage opportunities through various platforms such as clustering and working with trade associations; and working on more IE Singapore-city level agreements and partnerships.

While paying more attention to high-growth enterprises, the agency said that it would at the same time continue to identify a pipeline of such firms "through partnerships with multipliers like trade associations and chambers (TACs) and accelerators".

"We will explore working with TACs to set up overseas centres to provide support to these companies," it added. "An example is the IE-SCCCI Singapore Enterprise Centre set up in Shanghai in 2013. Other potential partners include financial institutions such as banks."

Mr Lee said that IE Singapore would also concentrate more on industries where Singapore is strong in, such as financial services, infrastructure, advance manufacturing, professional services, and logistics. But it will still keep an eye on emerging new growth sectors, according to him.

Market-wise, the agency prefers to provide more support to firms venturing to China, South-east Asia, India and South Asia. Mr Lee said that these would remain the growth markets in the near future.

In the mature markets of Europe and the US, he sees more opportunities for Singapore companies to acquire know-how and new products for markets nearer home.

Within IE Singapore, Mr Lee said, the agency will become more "customer-centric", cutting the layers of red-tape to make it more friendly for companies that come for help. "We're trying to be more of a one-stop service centre even it's within IE Singapore."

This article was first published on September 02, 2016.
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