The Covid-19 pandemic has put everyone’s lives and the economy on a rollercoaster to say the least. As a result, job prospects have been hard to come by for fresh graduates and those recently retrenched

Looking on the bright side of this problem, Singapore has made countless efforts in readying the country for a post-pandemic world. One such endeavour is the sprouting of a wide variety of startups from industries such as retail, technology and food. 

Singapore has not only been seen as a place primed for new startups to flourish, but also has the statistics to back it up. In 2019, Startup Genome ranked Singapore as 1st in Global Startup Connectedness while the World Bank rated Singapore as the 2nd easiest place to do business in the world. 

However, is it really the best time to be starting a business in the midst of a pandemic? Well, if you have the idea, we have the resources to help you find the launchpad you need, and we have compiled them in a list for you!

1. VentureForGood/VentureForGood (Youth)

For those looking to start up a social enterprise, VentureForGood and VentureForGood (Youth) are grants under raiSE that aim to financially support up-and-coming social enterprises in Singapore. The VentureForGood (Youth) grant has the added requirement of being only open to youth between the ages of 18-35.

Social enterprises under the VentureForGood grant can apply for up to $300,000, while those that address issues for a post-Covid-19 recovery phase can apply for up to $100,000. Successful applicants for the VentureForGood (Youth) grant can stand to receive up to $20,000 of funding and receive mentorships from VentureForGood (Youth) Partners which include National University of Singapore Enterprise and Nanyang Technological University.

To be eligible for the grants, your Singapore-based social enterprise must be registered or intend to register under the Companies Act or Co-operative Societies Act. In addition, it must address a local social need through one or more of a list of outcome areas including providing education, healthcare and basic human needs.  

To apply, simply email your pitch deck to vfg@raise.sg.

2. Startup SG Founder

Pledging to “boost the pipeline of new innovative startups in Singapore”, DPM Heng Swee Keat announced on 17 August 2020 that up to S$150 million has been set aside for the enhancement of the Startup SG Programme.

One such scheme under Startup SG is the Startup SG Founder Scheme. Applicable only to Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents, it is divided into the “Train” track and the “Start” track –

The “Train” track aims to support innovative ideas in commercialising into scalable businesses, attain validation from customers, and source for capital. This is done through Enterprise Singapore-appointed Accredited Mentor Partners-Venture Builders (AMP VBs) who will provide 3-month Venture Building (VB) programmes to Singaporeans.

On the other hand, the “Start” track will see applicants pitch their business ideas to AMPs who would then assess the applicants based on their uniqueness, feasibility and potential. Successful applicants will receive mentorships from the AMPs along with a startup capital grant of $50,000 from Enterprise Singapore. This capital grant is up from $30,000 as of 25 September 2020 as part of the enhancements described by DPM Heng. 

To apply, those interested are to submit their application directly to the AMP VBs or AMPs. A list of available AMP VBs and AMPs can be found on the Startup SG Founder website.

3. Startup SG Tech

If you have a technological solution that needs a kickstart, the Startup SG Tech grant might be right for you. This grant is awarded to locally registered and based startups with projects that are either Proof-of-Concept, where your idea is still in its conceptualisation stage, capped at $250,000, or Proof-of-Value, where the concept has been proven to be scientifically or technically viable, capped at $500,000. 

For a higher chance of success, be ready to demonstrate how your technology is innovative, how it can be applied and why it is commercially viable. In addition, your project should fall under one of seven listed categories.

Applications are a three-step process starting with the completion of the Startup SG Tech Registration of Interest Form to be sent to enquiry@enterprisesg.gov.sg.

4. Startup SG Equity

In an effort to stimulate private-sector investments into innovative, Singapore-based technology startups, the Singaporean government has offered to co-invest alongside third-party investors into startups through the Startup SG Equity Scheme. Funds under this scheme are managed by SEEDS Capital and SGInnovate.

General tech startups can stand to receive up to $2,000,000 in investment from SEEDS Capital while deep tech startups can stand to receive up to $8,000,000. As announced during the Ministry of Trade and Industry Committee-of-Supply 2020, the deep tech investment cap is up from a previous $4,000,000 in order to accelerate more investments in key emerging sectors during this challenging period. 

To apply, ensure that you have met all necessary eligibility requirements, and submit a two-page executive summary and supporting documents of your startup to SEEDS Capital at seeds@enterprisesg.gov.sg or SGInnovate at investmentsadmin@sginnovate.com

5. Startup SG Talent (Entrepass)

For budding entrepreneurs intending to start businesses in Singapore, EntrePass is a work pass scheme under the Startup SG Talent Scheme that facilitates the residence of global entrepreneurial talent to complement our local skillsets and contribute to a more diverse high tech startup ecosystem. 

To qualify, applicants must have, or are planning to start, a private limited company registered with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority, have funding from a Government-recognised venture capital or business angel, is an incubatee at a Government-recognised incubator or accelerator, and have a business network and entrepreneurial track record. In addition, depending on the partner agency appointed to assess the application, qualifying criteria specific to these agencies are also to be met.

Details on applying and the application form can be found here through the Ministry of Manpower website.

This rollercoaster that Covid-19 has put us on certainly has its ups and downs, but “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. With the right support, take that bold step and watch your ideas flourish!