SPRING Singapore’s Technology Enterprise Commercialisation Scheme (TECS)
Singapore is well known as a key regional and global business hub. The World Bank has ranked Singapore at the top of its annual Ease of Doing Business report for 10 consecutive years, bolstering the reputation of the city-state as a global force to be reckoned with in the business arena.
The government of Singapore strives to support its continuously growing and evolving enterprise ecosystem. The process of starting a business in Singapore is very easy. In addition, many schemes and programmes, non-financial aid, and support services have been launched and implemented to help enterprises in Singapore survive and thrive in the midst of cut-throat competition.
Among the many schemes offered by different government agencies is the Technology Enterprise Commercialisation Scheme (TECS). Spearheaded by the Standards, Productivity and Innovation Board (SPRING), TECS is devised in an effort to support globally innovative start-ups particularly in the technology industry. It seeks to become a catalyst for the development and growth of enterprises based on scalable business models and robust Intellectual Property.
Start-ups dealing with completely new and innovative technology Intellectual Property with potential to disrupt markets face a higher level of risk and require intensive research and development. Through TECS, eligible and successful applicants will be given access to funding support for their R&D efforts with the goal of commercializing proprietary technology ideas.
Applicants may either be start-ups or research scientist and engineers. SPRING imposes another set of requirements for applicants.
Start-up companies must be incorporated and physically run its operations in Singapore; it must be registered for less than five (5) years at the time the grant is awarded; thirty percent (30%) of the company should be of local shareholding; the annual sales turnover of the company should not be more than S$100,000 or employment size should not exceed two hundred (200) employees; lastly, the start-up company should have at least one (1) in-house research scientist or engineer (RSE).
On the other hand, Research Scientists and Engineers can only apply for Proof of Concept (POC) projects. Applicants are required to be presently employed in any public sector research organization, excluding Institutes of Higher Learning. Moreover, interested individuals must commit to the commercialization of any Intellectual property that may come out from the successful project completion.
Eligibility for TECS
In order to be eligible for the grant, the project or idea must satisfy the following criteria.
• It must clearly explain how either science or technology is applied in the idea or project
• It must be viable for commercial purposes
• It must build up or lead to an Intellectual Property
• The innovation must be of a breakthrough level. As an example, ideas that have the capability to disrupt markets, replace an existing market, or better yet, create a new niche market can easily be considered as breakthrough innovations.
TECS, evidently, is a highly competitive grant. Many are interested in availing the grant hence, proposals are carefully reviewed and evaluated by the board. The evaluation is conducted by a qualified team of reviewers seeking for start-ups or individuals the best commercial and technical merits. The evaluation process is divided into three (3) stages namely preliminary assessment, technical & commercial evaluation, and final panel evaluation.
The criteria for the evaluation include taking into consideration the technical idea and its approach, ability to execute the project or idea successfully, potential for commercialization, and overall project impact.
Interested grant applicants may either apply for a Proof of Concept (POC) grant or the Proof of Value (POV) grant.
Proof of Concept Project
For POC Projects, the idea must be in the early stage of conceptualization and its technical or scientific viability is yet to be demonstrated and proven. Successful applicants will get up to one hundred percent (100%) qualifying costs for every project with a cap of S$250,000.
Proof of Value Project
Start-ups with for concepts that are already proven scientifically or technically feasible but either need further research and development or need to develop a working prototype can apply for a POV Project. The goal for POV Projects is validating the commercial merit of an idea or innovation. The applicants are required to show a proof of interest from either potential customers or third-party investors along with the needed business competency to implement the project. Qualified applicants will get up to eighty-five percent (85%) funding support with a relatively higher cap of S$500,000.