SPRING Singapore will be merged with International Enterprise Singapore in an attempt to streamline services for startups and SMEs

Two government agencies in Singapore designed to cultivate and promote the city-state’s business community will be merging in an effort to streamline services in today’s digital economy.

The Singapore Minister for Trade and Industry, S Iswaran, announced today the merger of SPRING Singapore, an agency designed to support small business, and International Enterprise Singapore (IE Singapore), which is tasked build the city-state into an international trading hub.

The new agency will be called Enterprise Singapore.

The idea is to fuse the small business and startup support programmes of SPRING and then help the companies scale via the international connections of IE Singapore.

Traditionally, SPRING has helped SMEs and startups raise money, digitalise traditional industries and foster a culture of innovation.

According to Iswaran in his speech, IE Singapore has helped 24,000 Singaporean companies reach beyond the city-state.

“To better support industry and enterprises in this dynamic economic environment, we will build on the strengths of SPRING and IE by merging them to form a new government agency – Enterprise Singapore. Enterprise Singapore will integrate its knowledge of industries with its network of local and overseas partners, to comprehensively support our enterprises in their efforts to innovate and internationalise,” said Iswaran in the speech.

The merger is planned to be finalised in the second quarter of 2018. The move is said to affect about 960 people but the government said it does not expect any retrenchments.

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Furthermore, the merger is clearly targetting Singapore’s startup economy as the Minister directed a portion of his speech to the local techies.

“Through Enterprise Singapore, startups will not only benefit from the capability development support that SPRING has been providing, but will also be plugged into IE’s international networks, especially in fast growing regional markets. In the digital age, where speed and scale are critical, this will put our startups in a much better position to succeed,” he said.

As reasoning for the restructuring, Isawaran cited the Committee of Future Economy report — an all-encompassing roadmap for where Singapore wants to take its economy in the coming years. He brought up the following reasons for the move:

  • The ability for companies to respond to political and economic shifts
  • The modern reality of faster developments in technology
  • The need for companies to adapt to industry disruptions

The three factors can be categorised under the term ‘adaptability’, which is a major goal of this restructuring.

“As we continue to drive industry transformation, this merger will enable us to respond more quickly and flexibly to changes in the economic environment, and position our industries for new growth areas,” said Iswaran. 

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The merger should also help SMEs work more closely with Large Local Enterprises — who would normally use IE Singapore for international growth but were probably too big to leverage the SPRING programmes. Now that they are under the same roof, there may be an increased likelihood of making connections between SMEs and larger companies.

Enterprise Singapore is being positioned as one of two “critical and complementary economic pillars” in the city, with the other being the Economic Development Board.

As part of the merger, the  Competition Commission of Singapore will take over SPRING’s role in overseeing Singapore’s consumer protection regulations. Enterprise Singapore will focus on development.

According to Channel News Asia, the plan is to have the Ministry’s Second Permanent Secretary Png Cheong Boon be the first Head of Enterprise Singapore.

Copyright: rawpixel / 123RF Stock Photo

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