In a report on SGEntrepreneurs titled Singapore NRF Chief Assesses the Technology Incubation Scheme, Professor Low Teck Seng, CEO of National Research Foundation (NRF), shared some insights about the Technology Incubation Scheme (TIS).
The TIS is a National Framework for Innovation & Enterprise (NFIE) initiative of the National Research Foundation (NRF). S$360 million was earmarked for the NFIE programme over 5 years (2008 – 2012) to develop innovative entrepreneurship in institutes of higher learning (IHLs) i.e. universities and polytechnics. In turn, NFIE wants the eligible academic entrepreneurs to turn their R&D results into commercial products for the market place.
As part of the scheme, incubators are selected to provide an environment for the systematic nurturing of young companies before they are ready for venture capital funding. The scheme provides approved technology incubators 85% co-funding (up to S$500,000) in exchange for equity stake in the company. Co-investors then have the option to buy out NRF’s share of the company at the next round of financing i.e. within 3 years of investment.
As of March this year, the approved incubators to mentor high tech start-ups in Singapore include the following:
|TIS Incubators||Supporting sectors|
|Silicon Straits||IDM & Engineering|
|Plug & Play Singapore Pte Ltd||ICT|
|Small World Group Incubator||Cleantech & Engineering (esp. advanced materials, optical technologies)|
|TechCube8, Get2Volume||ICT (esp. B2B IT system) & Engineering (esp. electronics)|
|Clearbridge Accelerators||Medtech, Engineering (esp. advanced materials)& ICT (esp. computational algorithms)|
|Red Dot Ventures||IDM, ICT, Biotech, Medtech, Cleantech & Engineering|
|Wavemakers Labs, Jungle Ventures, Incuvest, Stream Global Incubators||IDM & ICT|
|Golden Gate Ventures||IDM|
|TNF Ventures||IDM & ICT, Biotech, Medtech & Cleantech|
|The Biofactory||Biotech & Medtech|
The extensive list may be found via the NRF.
In the report, Professor Low said that NRF will explore increasing quantum amounts (up to S$850,000) for firms in the biotech, cleantech and other tech sectors that require high start up capital requirements.
He also acknowledged the challenge of hiring the right talent and that Singapore is not the cheapest place to hire top tier software engineering talent. He said though, that companies must prove that they have done their best to employ local talent. This is to align with the government’s goal of providing high value jobs for Singaporeans. In the event that incubatees cannot locate the right talent within Singapore, employing via the Singapore work visa would then be allowed.
Analysis by Singapore company registration specialist Rikvin shows that these insights dovetail the recently refined Singapore EntrePass scheme. On top of the focus on technopreneurs and R&D intensive enterprises, one of the new criteria to be fulfilled by applicants is the procurement of funding by a recognized third-party VC or business angel.
Commenting further, Mr. Satish Bakhda, Head of Operations at Rikvin said, “As our economy shifts its focus to encourage more innovation, R&D and technopreneurship, the recent changes to the EntrePass scheme reflect just that. On the domestic front, the TIS will provide support to high-potential entrepreneurs bred in Singapore’s academic institutions. On an international level, the refined EntrePass scheme will attract firms to relocate to Singapore and be a part of a growing high-tech sector.”