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: SMEs tap Scale-up SG programme to establish new ventures, expand globally

SINGAPORE - Local semiconductor test solutions firm AEM Holdings has expanded its product offerings and completed five acquisitions in the past two years, with the support of a local growth programme.

AEM is one of 65 companies that have benefited from the Scale-up SG programme since it was launched in 2019 to accelerate the growth of high-potential local companies and help them expand globally.

To date, these 65 companies have launched more than 50 new ventures and identified 32 new markets for expansion.

Collectively, they have also made more than 30 merger and acquisition deals, and embarked on over 20 collaborations with one another, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, who was speaking at the Scale-up Ignite event at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre on Tuesday (May 24).

The 12- to 18-month programme sees executives from fast-growing local companies - usually small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) - work with consultancy firms to develop and fine-tune growth strategies, as well as network and collaborate with other local business leaders.

AEM, for one, through the consulting expertise provided in Scale-up SG, was able to grow its business in China and saw its revenue cross $500 million in 2020.

Firms that participated in the programme, which has had five runs to date, have also created close to 500 professional, managerial, executive and technical jobs in the last three years.

The Scale-up Ignite event was held to celebrate the achievements and contributions of firms that have participated in the programme, and was attended by more than 130 business leaders.

Leaders from companies that have participated in Scale-up SG shared their experiences of how they have benefited from the programme.

Firms that participate in the Scale-up programme, which is overseen by Enterprise Singapore (EnterpriseSG), come from a range of industries, including manufacturing, transport and logistics, and urban solutions.

There will be two more runs of the Scale-up programme this year.

EnterpriseSG will partner consultancy firms McKinsey & Co and EY Parthenon, as well as the Stanford Graduate School of Business, in these subsequent programme runs. A network will also be established for past participants of the programme to build ties and collaborate with other leaders. SMEs selected by EnterpriseSG are invited to join the programme.

In his speech, Mr Heng said that the Scale-up SG programme is a cornerstone of Singapore's efforts to provide tailored support to promising, high-growth local companies and help them become large enterprises with a global footprint.

Helping local enterprises scale up is one of three drivers of economic growth for Singapore, the minister said, alongside developing start-ups here and drawing foreign investments from multinational corporations.

He referred to the levelling up of Singapore's SMEs as a "quiet revolution", noting that compared with start-ups, many successful SMEs are less high-profile as they may not be consumer-facing.

Mature companies, whether SMEs or multinationals, also find it more difficult to grow at an explosive pace, Mr Heng said, but pointed out that steady transformation over time can lead to significant impact.

Helping Singapore's SMEs expand is a critical plank to ensure inclusive growth, the minister noted, with these enterprises collectively employing more than two-thirds of the Republic's workers.

Mr Heng, who is also Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies, said: "Together with our vibrant start-up scene and growing base of multinationals, levelling up and scaling up our local enterprises will further strengthen... our growth in the next phase of economic development.

"And in doing so, we also hope that Singapore can contribute to the region's growth as a Global-Asia node of technology, innovation and enterprise."

Another SME that has benefited from Scale-up SG is advanced manufacturing player Omni-Plus System, which tapped the programme to refine its market expansion into Japan.

The firm worked with EnterpriseSG and Scale-up SG programme partners to see how it could diversify its business. Since then, it has expanded into high-value components for 5G and electric vehicle applications, among others.

The company also tapped the programme's consulting expertise and gained valuable skills in team-building and grooming the next generation of leaders, said Omni-Plus System's corporate planning and strategy manager Daryl Neo.

"The programme provides a good community of Singapore businesses and business leaders to share and exchange critical views, best practices and knowledge. This is invaluable," he added.

 Article source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.