At the Committee of Supply Parliamentary Debate last week, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) announced that it has revised the entry and renewal criteria for new EntrePass applications with effect from 1 September 2013.
Analysis by Singapore work visa specialist Rikvin shows that the new framework will only make room for foreign firms that have high growth potential or innovation at the core of their business. This framework, in turn, dovetails with MOM’s new strategy of raising the quality of Singapore’s foreign workforce in a bid to create quality growth for Singaporeans.
Commenting further, Ms. Christine Lim, General Manager of Rikvin said, “The Singapore EntrePass scheme has traditionally been a route for entrepreneurs to set up shop, relocate to Singapore and run their business in the city-state. However, the requirements have gotten tougher as years go by. On top of current criteria such as a paid-up capital of at least $50,000 and registering a private limited company, entrepreneurs must now accept even tougher entry and renewal criteria.”
With the new program in place, a business will literally have to hit the ground running and in reality, this is not always the case. That said, we look forward to seeing how this pans out and what kind of businesses we do attract.”
With effect from 1 September 2013, businesses must meet at least one of these requirements:
- Funded by a recognised third-party venture capitalist or business angel;
- Holds a nationally-recognised proprietary or licensed Intellectual Property (IP);
- Has research collaboration with recognised research institutions such as A*STAR or a local tertiary institution;
- Is an incubatee at a government-approved incubator; or
- Receives support from a Singapore Government agency.
“This signals two things,” added Ms. Lim. “The first is that Singapore policymakers have defined the types of business activities that it deems as integral to the new vision of quality growth. This then means that technology and research enterprises whose core functions are centered in innovation or those that are backed by the government or approved funders would have a better chance of having the EntrePass application approved.”
“On the bright side, this means that over the coming years, we could see employment creation through these businesses. The challenge then is to ensure that we have the right people to fill in those positions.”
“On the other hand, the additional criteria immediately excludes many types of small business and micro-enterprises from the equation and may repel potentially interesting businesses that do not fit this mould but do have something of value to contribute to our social fabric. It also remains to be seen whether it would make business sense to set up a company in Singapore when the bar is raised even higher. Under the refined program, instead of getting a 2-year validity, entrepreneurs will have to show results within a year. This makes things even harder not only for the EntrePass holder, but also the local entrepreneur, who faces new and perhaps bigger competition.”
“With the new program in place, a business will literally have to hit the ground running and in reality, this is not always the case. That said, we look forward to seeing how this pans out and what kind of businesses we do attract,” concluded Ms. Lim.