MCI

24 Aug 2012

ICT grants for SMEs to increase competitiveness and productivity

24/08/2012

SPEECH BY DR YAACOB IBRAHIM, MINISTER FOR INFORMATION, COMMUNICATIONS AND THE ARTS AT THE 15TH INFOCOMM COMMERCE CONFERENCE ON FRIDAY, 24 AUGUST 2012, 9.45AM, AT SUNTEC SINGAPORE INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION & EXHIBITION CENTRE

Mr Teo Siong Seng, President of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen.

I am pleased to join you this morning at the opening of the 15th Infocomm Commerce Conference, or ICC.  The ICC has played a key role in helping enterprises keep up to date with major trends in technology and business innovation, and in encouraging business delegates to share innovative ideas.  

Leapfrog the Competition with Infocomm

The Internet and the proliferation of social media have changed consumer buying behaviors and increased their product knowledge.  For local businesses, this means that they need to be even more effective and efficient in the way they operate to keep their current customers and more importantly to attract new customers so as to stay ahead of competition.

I am pleased that agencies such as the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, and SPRING Singapore are working in close partnership to equip SMEs with productivity-enabling ICT tools to increase business competitiveness.

Enhanced iSPRINT Bridges Affordability & Accessibility Gaps for SMEs When Adopting Infocomm

IDA’s iSPRINT grant scheme, for instance, is a comprehensive initiative that supports the adoption of ICT by SMEs, from simple solutions that improve business operations to innovative uses of technology that transform a business or sector. Last year, the PRINT scheme received an injection of $85.5 million from the National Productivity and Continuing Education Council tosupport SMEsin the adoption of ICT solutions. Since March 2010, iSPRINT has benefitted more than 4,000 companies, including TS DigitalLaser which acquired an inventory system;and Royal T Group Pte Ltd as well as Teck Kee Pau Franchise Pte Ltd that each implemented a payroll system.

Today, I am also pleased to announce that iSPRINT will be further enhanced to ensure ICT remains affordable and accessible to SMEs. Funding support will now be increased from the current 50 per cent to 70 per cent of qualifying costs for all SMEs.  At the same time, the grant cap for Business Improvement and Packaged Solutions categories is also increased from $10,000 currently to $20,000.  In addition, the base of “iSPRINT Packaged Solutions” - first introduced in September 2010 to simplify the grant application process, has been broadened to more than 150 packaged solutions.

Aside from financial assistance, IDA has also set up two InfocommResourceCentres (SIRCs) to provide low-cost, efficient advisory and consultancy services to SMEs, as well as equip SMEs with the technical know-how to embark on IT projects with solution providers.  These centres are located at the SCCCI and the Singapore Polytechnic.

Changes to iSPRINT Avails More Productivity-Enabling Tools for ICT SMEs

As we empower SMEs to use infocomm actively, ICT solution providers are not left behind in the national productivity drive as well.

ICT solution providers can now tap on a new category of Packaged Solutions under iSPRINT, known as “Specialised Software for ICT SMEs” to purchase productivity-enabling tools such as project management and software development tools. I urge ICT solutions providers to tap on iSPRINT and give your company the added productivity boost.  

Sectoral Focus Provides Industry-Wide Impact and Economies of Scale  

IDA has also been working with sectoral champions to identify and influence sector-wide adoption of infocomm solutions by SMEs. To date, IDA has awarded more than 10 sectoral projects.  In one project, driven by the Port of Singapore Authority (PSA) and IDA, a Vehicle Tracking System was developed for more than 100 trucking companies operating in PSA-managed ports.  This shared platform enabled real-time track-and-trace by providing data communication between truck drivers, port operations and traffic controllers, saving more than 500 hours of downtime per truck.  As a result, PSA also saw faster port clearance, shorter turnaround time and reduced documentation.  I encourage you to visit the Infocomm Singapore pavilion later to find out more about some of the latest infocomm technologies available for SMEs.

Cloud computing also lowers the cost of entry for many small businesses.  Software-as-a-Service, or SaaS solutions facilitate mass adoption and enable best practices, compliance requirements, as well as enterprise-to-enterprise interactions to be readily incorporated into the solutions and rolled out to the many enterprises on the SaaS platform.

Recognising this, IDA has led a multi-agency $21-million Call for Collaboration (CFC) for SaaS Solutions. This CFC aims to spur the demand for SaaS solutions that will address sector-specific requirements, bring about mass adoption among SMEs, and more importantly, deliver productivity gains to various sectors.  I am heartened to know that this CFC has been well-received by the industry.  I encourage all SMEs to take advantage of this opportunity, to participate and collaborate within your sector, to embed ICT into your business.

Conclusion

Infocomm is a vital enabler that can transform businesses, or even an entire business sector. With the many schemes and new initiatives available for SMEs to tap on, I encourage all businesses to harness the relevant infocomm tools to become more agile and resilient, in order to grow and thrive in the increasingly-competitive global business environment.

 On this note, I would like to wish everyone a fruitful conference. Thank you.