SMEs to get more help to build tech prowess

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will get more help to keep up with leading-edge technologies, Parliament was told yesterday.

To encourage more SMEs to tie up with and learn from larger companies in their supply chain, the Partnerships for Capability Transformation (Pact) programme will be extended by another three years to March 2018.

"Pact has achieved good progress," Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang said during the debate on budget estimates for his ministry. He added that the programme will be developed to provide "greater support for co-innovation" between SMEs and larger companies.

Pact was introduced in Budget 2010 to help manufacturing firms build their capabilities and track records, and is supported by the Economic Development Board (EDB), Spring Singapore and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research. In 2013, it was expanded to include more industries and new forms of collaboration.

SMEs can tap Pact for funding support of up to 70 per cent of development costs for approved projects such as joint product development and test-bedding of innovative solutions.

To allow more projects to qualify, the scheme will now support all SMEs so long as the larger firms they partner are committed to developing their capabilities, even if the larger firms do not qualify for funding.

Also, water and energy solutions firms that were unable to use Singapore as a test bed due to limited land, air space or climate conditions will get a lift. EDB is piloting a $15 million Overseas Living Lab programme to help Singapore-based firms in these sectors test and commercialise their technologies overseas, Second Trade and Industry Minister S. Iswaran said. The pilot programme will run over the next two years.

The new initiatives complement other tax incentives and grant schemes announced on Budget day that encourage SMEs to grow through mergers, acquisitions and overseas expansions.


This article was first published on Mar 7, 2015.
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