2020 was an incredibly challenging year, with many businesses hit hard by the global COVID-19 crisis.
Our immediate response was to help businesses ease their cashflows and deal with business disruptions caused by COVID.
Despite all, the pandemic did not deter Singapore enterprises from pressing on with their transformation and growth efforts. Across industries, many recognised the need to build resilience, strengthen competitiveness and capture new opportunities in a drastically different global business environment.
Last year, we supported over 15,300 Singapore enterprises in their productivity, innovation and internationalisation endeavours – 54% more than 2019. This is expected to create S$18.4 billion in value-add and 22,200 skilled jobs.
"Our commitment to our companies is this – as long as they have the ambition, aptitude and attitude to pursue growth, we will find the necessary resources to support them," said Minister Chan Chun Sing in a speech at Enterprise Singapore's Year-in-Review 2020.
He added that moving forward, the Government's support will increasingly become more focused and targeted on helping businesses build new capabilities, grow and seize new opportunities and penetrate new markets.
"This will provide the best outcomes not only for our businesses and our workers but the overall economy and all Singaporeans."
At the onset of the pandemic, our priority was to help businesses manage their cashflows and mitigate operational challenges brought about by COVID-19. We facilitated their adoption of digital solutions so they could continue their operations and adapt to remote working. We also supported enterprises to ensure business continuity and the safe reopening of our economic activities.
Despite the impact of COVID-19, many enterprises continued with their upgrading, transformation, innovation and internationalisation efforts in 2020. To support these forward-looking businesses, we raised the support level of the Enterprise Development Grant from 70% to up to 90%, and pressed on with our efforts to help these enterprises upgrade and transform.
Super Union, a precision engineering company, implemented an end-to-end automation system in 2020 that helps to achieve 100% unmanned production for one of their production lines. This has reduced their production cycle time by 40% and increased their daily output by 80%.
Using grant support from its win at the 2018 Singtel-Aztech Open Innovation Challenge, tech and Internet of Things (IoT) startup Prospace went on to develop the ThermalSense platform – a solution that tracks and provides comprehensive workspace utilisation data via body temperature detection. This new platform enabled Prospace to secure new opportunities and deploy its solution with corporates such as Novertis, GIC and Medtronic.
When physical trade fairs such as the Thailand Comic Con were postponed, Mighty Jaxx – a studio which designs art collectibles – launched a virtual experience store to engage their customers and showcase their toy collections instead.
At the wider industry level, we continued to work with key multipliers and industry partners on rolling out industry-specific and cross-industry projects.
The 11 SME Centres, run by the Trade Associations & Chambers (TACs), assisted 32,000 enterprises through business advisory services and capability development efforts.
The TACs implemented new initiatives to assist enterprises:
We continued to support startup formation and strengthen the startup and innovation ecosystem in 2020, in line with our strategy to grow Singapore into a global-Asia node for technology, innovation and enterprise.
Augmentus, a simplified robotics startup that was supported through the Startup SG Founder programme, was recently crowned a winner at the Singapore Digital Techblazer Awards. Their solution enables users to draw on an iPad the paths they want an industrial robot to take, shortening a weeks-long coding and design process to a matter of minutes.
SFF x SWITCH
Despite COVID-19, international platforms such as SFF x SWITCH and SLINGSHOT, which bring the startup community together, carried on in new and innovative ways. In 2020, SFF x SWITCH took on a hybrid format featuring a 24-hour online platform and saw participants from 160 countries. Our marquee startup competition SLINGSHOT also went fully online, attracing more than 7,500 applications from over 150 countries.
We start 2021 with signs of a gradual recovery. However, we are not out of the woods yet. COVID-related disruptions can flare up in Singapore or overseas, at short notice and with unpredictable impact.
In the midst of current volatilities, enterprises will need to be highly agile to pivot as the situation affords. They will need to pick out pockets of growth whenever and wherever they find them, and compete on superior value proposition based on innovation and strong brand attributes.
As we continue to walk on this uncertain but exciting journey together with our Singapore enterprises, here is our approach in supporting them to seize opportunities, build new possibilities and transit into the next phase of transformation and growth:
Build new capabilities to support internationalisation
Harness innovation to meet new needs
Demand in emerging growth areas
New and exciting opportunities in China and Southeast Asia
Last year, our network of partners stepped up tremendously to help our companies cope with the impact of COVID-19. We will continue the close working relationship with these partners as we help enterprises get back on their growth path and seize new opportunities.
Click here to read our 2019 Year-in-Review.