Historically, Singapore always had a strong political will in incentivizing companies to conduct R&D activities in Singapore.

Landscape of the Public Funding of innovation in Singapore
by GAC Group, a French Tech company

We can distinguish two kinds of financial support for Innovation in Singapore:

1.       For past expenditures: 250% R&D Tax credit (IRAS)

Any company registered in Singapore can apply to the R&D Tax credit, as long as it has incurred R&D costs during the past Financial Year in Singapore.  If unused, the capital allowances generated can be carried forward indefinitely to offset future tax.

The scheme allows to deduce 250% of the R&D staff cost from your chargeable income. There is no cap, which makes it one of the most generous tax credit scheme in the world.

Singapore has adopted the OECD definition of “Research and Development”.

There is a common misconception about the term “R&D” which is often employed to describe general technical developments.

To apply, companies must demonstrate the technological novelty of the project and the scientific protocols deployed during the project. Here, R&D does not refer to engineering works.

2.       For future expenditures

  • Innovation Grants for local SMEs (Enterprise Singapore)
  • International Expansion Grants for local SMEs (Enterprise Singapore)
  • Industry-specific Calls for Proposals for companies of any size (managed by related industry Agency NEA for Energy, CSA for Cyber-security, MAS for Fintech, etc.)
  • Financial support for setting up an R&D lab in Singapore (Economic Development Board)
  • Joint R&D project conducted by a French and a Singaporean SME (Enterprise Singapore in partnership with bpifrance)

Grants for local SMEs refer to companies with a minimum of 30% of individual local shareholding by a Singaporean citizen or Permanent Resident. To apply, companies submit a grant application before the beginning of the project which usually includes:

  • Technical description of the project,
  • Market analysis,
  • Project risk assessment,
  • Technology maturity assessment,
  • IP strategy description,
  • Prior Art review,
  • Project roadmap,
  • Financial forecast.

Projects that are in line with the Singapore ITMs (Industry Transformation Maps) have a better chance of being approved.

Singapore public funding agencies have a strong focus on technological innovation.

Although service innovation companies can apply to some grants, the majority of grants are targeting technological innovation, following Singapore’s political will to become a regional technological IP hub.

GAC Group runs a continuous watch of open Calls for Proposal, and provides a free Public Funding Assessment for French Tech members to identify potential public funding opportunities.

By Mathias Boissonot, Director – Contact: mboissonot@group-gac.sg