Traditional versus ‘Free Money’ Government Assistance for SMEs

grants for sme

Development of technology is made easier with collaboration with different institutions in same and sometimes, different fields. Innovations created by minds of many rather than ideas of a few. There are hundreds of research and development (R&D) funding agencies that raise millions of dollars in order to produce technologies and products that address specific needs of the industry.

Government funding and public-private partnerships may provide an avenue for allocation of appropriate funds for these types of development. In Singapore, for example, there are various funding agencies that can allocate certain funds for R&D. One of the world’s leading countries in development of technology. It is coined that Singapore as a transport and technology hub, being the 3rd largest foreign market, 3rd highest GDP per capita, with the 5th largest UN Human development index, which one can claim, the reason for allocation of budget into continuing development of technology and innovations.

Some of these grants are specific for small-medium enterprises (SMEs). These includes enterprises and companies under around 250 employees. Projects in these fields may range from renewable energies, health and medical sciences, information technology, security, to name a few. For some, trainings and human  resource development are also considered innovations and development under certain funding agencies. As these “developments” are not solely focused on product improvement, but also, creating atmosphere of efficiency among companies to produce better products, effectiveness of each individual contributing to the growth of the businesses.

Of courses there are still the traditional financing assistances from government.  Investment financing involves selling part of SME business as shares to would-be investors, who will then take a share of the profits (or losses) that your business makes. This type of assistance is still popular in Singapore and Israel since investors could not only bring in resources but key skills and experiences that may be vital for a start-up business. And then there are crowd-funding which involves showcasing an idea in the internet, letting a number of people chip-in through either investment or donations until a target amount is reached. This form of assistance funds very particular projects instead of long-term day-to-day business operations. But the most common traditional government assistance for SMEs in Singapore are still loans where whereby a bank or loan institutions lends a specific amount of money as credit and which the loaner could use at his discretion but must pay back, with interest over a specified period and based on agreed payment schemes and terms.

And recently, the trend in government support for SMEs in Singapore seem to shift towards grants which are essentially free money that is awarded for a specific project by the government or a similar public provider. The purpose must however conform to government priorities such as R&D. Since grants are free money, most of these grants for research and development in Singapore involve a highly competitive application system where applicants need to meet very strict criteria and processes to be eligible. The main advantage of R & D grant, other than there is no need to pay them back, is that research can come a long way in terms improving products and services and sustaining and expanding operations.

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