Guide To Startup SG Founders Grant And How Aspiring Entrepreneurs Can Receive Government Support To Start A Business

While 2020 has been a tough year for everyone, including entrepreneurs, it is also an opportunity to start a business as old ways of doing things become disrupted and people adapt to changes. 

If you are an aspiring entrepreneur, the Startup SG Programme should be of interest to you as the government is funding up to $150 million to support the start-up scene in Singapore.  Specifically, the Startup SG Founders Grant provides first-time entrepreneurs with start-up grant capital and mentorship. 

Read Also: Planning To Start A Business In 2020? Here’s Your Guide To Grants, Tools, And Resources Available

What Is The Startup SG Founders Grant?

Recognising that first-time entrepreneurs need more than capital support, the Startup SG Founders Grant, first introduced in 2017, ties grant capital with mentorship to support entrepreneurs in their maiden business venture

In August 2020, as part of the government’s efforts to support and revitalise Singapore’s economy through the recession, the Startup SG Founders was enhanced to include venture-building and the start-up capital grant enhanced from $30,000 to $50,000. 

Currently, there are two tracks under the Startup SG Founders Grant: the “Start” track (which has been enhanced) and the “Train” track (which is a new track).

Startup SG Founders Grant “Start” Track (effective from 25 September 2020)

The “Start” track targets entrepreneurs who are ready to start and have a viable business plan. It is an enhancement of the previous Startup SG Founders Grant, raising grant capital to $50,000.

What Is The Eligibility?

To apply for the Startup SG Founders Grant “Start” Track, you need to fulfil the following criteria:

  • You must form a team that has at least 3 Singapore Citizens (SC) or Singapore Permanent Residents (SPRs), who are the main applicants of the grant
  • At least 2 of the 3 main applicants are first-time entrepreneurs
  • The main applicants who are first-time entrepreneurs must hold a minimum of 30% equity in the company together
  • The company must have a minimum 51% SC/PR shareholdings
  • The company must not be incorporated for more than 6 months of at the point of application to the AMP
  • The main applicant(s) not be employed full time by another employer and must be a key decision maker(s) in the company
  • The main applicant(s) must not have received any funding for the proposed business idea from another government organisation
  • The proposed business idea must not be in the areas of: cafes, restaurants, night clubs, lounges, bars, foot reflexology, massage parlours, gambling, prostitution, social escort services, employment agencies (including recruiting foreign work permit holders and workers/support staff, relocation services, and manpower services), and geomancy.

How To Apply?

You must apply through an Accredited Mentor Partners (AMP) who will then guide you through the process as well as recommend you to Enterprise Singapore (ESG) who makes the final approval of the grant. 

Source: Startup SG

Accredited Mentor Partners (AMPs) include: 

  • Educational institutes (i.e. Institute of Technical Education (ITE), Pollinate, National University of Singapore (NUS), NTUitive, Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) Entrepreneurship, SMU Institute of Innovation & Entrepreneurship), 
  • Venture capital (i.e. Antler, DeClout Investments, Farquhar VC), 
  • Incubators and accelerators (i.e. F10 FinTech Incubator & Accelerator, IES-INCA) and 
  • Companies known for their co-working spaces (i.e. Found8 and WeWork)

Each AMP has their different strengths and can support you in different ways. They may also choose to take up equity in your startup. You can see the full list of AMPs here

You should choose your AMP wisely as they will be the ones mentoring you through your business development, and recommending your business to ESG for the Startup SG Founders Grant. 

Startup SG Founders Grant “Train” Track (new)

The new “Train” track is targeted at aspiring entrepreneurs who have the desire to start companies but lack entrepreneurial skills or viable business plans/ ideas to do so. Instead, they will be put through a 3-month venture building programme with the Accredited Mentor Partners Venture Builders (‘AMP-VB’). 

During the 3-month venture building programme, entrepreneurs will receive a stipend of $1,500 per month and use the opportunity to find co-founders and be guided through the process of business development.

What Is The Eligibility?

You need to fulfil the following criteria:

  • Singapore Citizens (SC) / Permanent Residents (PR)
  • Commit to 100% attendance rate to be eligible for this track

While the AMP-VBs are currently all universities, you do not need to be a university student or an alumnus to apply. Mid-career Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians (PMETs) are also welcome to apply.

How To Apply?

You may apply to the various AMP-VBs directly.

National University of Singapore (NUS), NUS Enterprise3 months programme
Nanyang Technological University (NTU), NTUitive (NTU)3 months programme
Singapore Management University (SMU), Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship)3 months programme
Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS)6 months programme (inclusive of 3 months venture-building and incubation support for rest of 3 months)
Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD)3 months programme

Should You Apply For The Startup SG Founders Grant?

With the new “Train” track, the government is really pushing for entrepreneurs to take the next step to make their ideas into reality. The monthly stipend acts as a support net while you learn to identify business ideas, develop them into products, conduct market validation and find capital. After which, you can apply for the “Start” track with the co-founders you find during the programme. 

If you already raring to go with your business idea, the “Start” track supports you with a larger variety of AMPs who can mentor you throughout the process. The enhancement of the grant capital from $30,000 to $50,000 is also a boon to new entrepreneurs. 

However, the only downside is that it may take you a while to find suitable co-founders, especially first-time entrepreneurs. However, do not be deterred even if your co-founder has founded a company in the past, as ESG has stated that they would consider applications of second-time co-founders on a case-by-case basis. 

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