Merger to Better Help Local Companies
To further help Singapore businesses grow and internationalise, two government agencies – International Enterprise Singapore (IE) and Spring Singapore will merge into a single entity. These two entities have since their formation, focused their efforts on helping local businesses.
The merger is expected in the second quarter of this year and will see the integration of resources and capabilities. According to the Minister for Trade and Industry, S. Iswaran, this would better address the needs of Singaporean companies and enhance their competitiveness.
He also assured that there would be no staff layoffs and the merged entity will have a staff strength of about 900 employees. Both agencies will continue to operate from their separate offices due to existing leases.
Spring is responsible for assisting Singapore’s start-ups and small and medium sized enterprises in areas such as financing, capability and management development, technology and innovation, while IE Singapore promotes international trade, and partners Singapore companies to help them go global.
Speaking at the opening of the Singapore Business Federation’s new office along Robinson Road recently, Iswaran noted that both agencies have developed strong networks and deep expertise in their respective functions.
According to him, IE helped more than 24,000 enterprises with their overseas expansion in the first half of last year, while Spring helped build capabilities in SMEs through projects that are expected to generate S$4 billion in value-add.
“However, we are in a new phase of economic development,” said Iswaran, adding that with tighter domestic constraints, external demand will be an even more important driver of growth.
Singaporean companies, said Iswaran, must be able to respond effectively to political and economic shifts, shorter technology cycles and business model disruptions.
Innovate and Harness New Technologies
“They must have extensive networks, superior capabilities, innovative products and strong brands to compete in this globalised digital economy,” he said.
Regardless of size or stage of development, he said the capacity to innovate, harness new technologies, scale up and internationalise are deeply intertwined for all companies.
He said to comprehensively support our enterprises in their efforts to innovate and internationalise, Enterprise Singapore will integrate its knowledge of industries with its network of local and overseas partners.
For example, he said, Enterprise Singapore would be able to combine the expertise of Spring and IE by supporting a manufacturing company with a grant to augment its production capacity while concurrently developing an export marketing and channel strategy for its increased output.
Start-ups, meanwhile, 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 this digital age, where speed and scale are critical, this will put our start-ups in a better position to succeed,” he noted.
Second permanent secretary for the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Png Cheong Boon will be concurrently appointed as the chief executive officer (designate) of Enterprise Singapore.
Png has served in various economic agencies, including as the chief executive of Jurong Town Corporation and Spring Singapore.
As part of this restructuring, the Competition Commission of Singapore will take over Spring’s existing oversight of consumer protection.
Meanwhile, the Singapore Business Federation welcomed the formation of Enterprise Singapore, noting that the merger is consistent with what it has been calling for in recent years.
The SBF-led SME Committee in it’s Budget 2015 and 2016, called for the establishment of a single SME authority to champion SME development and drive the SME agenda across the whole of Government.
Federation chairman, Teo Siong Seng said the merger signals that the Government is responsive to the changing needs of businesses.
“It is also very timely, given the re-positioning of SBF as a growth platform for the business community to come together to not only help itself, but also work with our Government to co-create solutions to enhance our country’s economic value and prosperity.”
This year, apart from moving to its new office, Teo said, the organisation is also celebrating its 15th anniversary, which sparked a review of its mission, a project that began in December last year.
Upon completion of the review, the federation plans to intensify its efforts to spot, prioritise, analyse and help resolve burning issues facing businesses. The review included gathering feedback from its members and other trade associations and chambers.
Among it’s efforts include setting up more “issues committees”, similar to the SME Committee it set up in 2011.
For a start, it has formed a new committee on digitalisation, to help businesses build strong digital capabilities and promote the adoption of digital technologies.
The federation also aims to work more closely with trade associations and chambers, to avoid duplication of efforts and bring them together in networking sessions and industry projects.
To achieve this, recently, the federation and 30 trade associations and chambers signed a compact to work together as strategic partners and collaborators to further the interests of their members and facilitate the growth of the business community.