$500m scheme to help SMEs adopt information tech

Govt to get up to 10,000 firms to use IT to enhance their productivity

Published on Aug 21, 2014 1:58 AM

LOCAL firms are being urged to start applying for a new $500 million scheme which makes it easier to adopt game-changing information technology.

Applications for the Infocomm Technology for Productivity and Growth (IPG) programme opened yesterday.

It is aimed at small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which account for more than nine in 10 of all firms here, employing more than 60 per cent of the workforce.

Launching the IPG, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Communications and Information, said technology was vital to improving the performance of SMEs.

He cited a traditional coffee shop in Tampines which has already boosted both its business and customer satisfaction by introducing wireless food ordering.

“The coffee shop takes orders with the easy-to-use ‘point and click’ mobile devices and the orders instantly are sent to the kitchen electronically,” he said. “Customers’ waiting time is reduced, and there are higher table turns, which meant happier customers and a happier shop operator.”

The goal is to help up to 10,000 SMEs adopt such game- changing IT over the next three years, from 500 now, he said.

Interested businesses can apply through the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA).

The IPG programme also aims to support companies bringing new tech solutions to Singapore.

The new scheme has been folded into the existing – and now improved – iSprint programme.

iSprint stands for “Increase SME Productivity with Infocomm Adoption and Transformation”, and aims to boost the productivity and growth of SMEs.

The whole process has been streamlined so that SMEs now need only to apply through the iSprint scheme for IPG incentives.

One enhancement to iSprint allows IT vendors and SMEs coming up with new tech solutions to get support of up to 80 per cent, capped at $1 million for each SME. Second, SMEs wanting to use already successful solutions can choose from a list of packaged solutions, and get subsidies of up to 70 per cent. Under these two options, SMEs do not make the claims on their own. The vendor makes the claims on their behalf and IDA reimburses the vendors directly. Third, the IDA will subsidise Internet plans for SMEs, to support them in using technology such as cloud computing, and video and data analytics solutions.

Dr Yaacob said the improvements aim to make adopting ICT (information and communications technology) solutions more accessible to SMEs.

He added: “Technology will be your game changer. It plays an important role in making your business more competitive.

“However, businesses must ensure that time, money and energy invested in technology are properly placed.”

Dr Yaacob was speaking at SCCCI’s annual SME conference at Suntec Singapore.

Mr Thomas Chua, president of Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI), also urged more SMEs to take up such schemes to transform themselves.

He said a recent survey found that 59 per cent of small firms had applied for government assistance schemes, up from 45 per cent last year, but this percentage is lower than for bigger companies.

“We hope even more micro- and heartland enterprises would take time out to study these schemes, and consult the SME Centre at the SCCCI building.”

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