SPRING Singapore – offers $50 million to Tech Startups – itsReal

SPRING launches $50m programme to turn R&D concepts into businesses
1. Technology-savvy entrepreneurs and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) keen to commercialise their R&D ideas can now tap on SPRING Singapore’s new Technology Enterprise Commercialisation Scheme (TECS).

2. The $50 million programme is an extension of SPRING’s Technology Innovation Programme (TIP), which was launched in August 2006. Developed with the support of Agency for Science, Techology and Research (A*STAR), National University of Singapore (NUS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and National Research Foundation (NRF), TECS aims to support more than 100 ideas over the next five years.

3. Speaking at the SPRING Enterprise Conference 2008 at Matrix @ Biopolis today, SPRING’s Chairman, Mr Philip Yeo said, “New product development is highly risky – especially so for those based on new technologies and aimed at creating a new market. When successful, such innovations can enable our companies to leapfrog their competitors. We need more of such breakthrough innovations.”

4. The TECS will provide the support to enterprises and entrepreneurs to bring their ideas to the market. The funding will be given in two phases.

5. The first critical phase is for Proof-of-Concept. Proposals will be assessed based on their commercial potential and technical feasibility. Successful applicants can receive 100% grant support of up to $250,000. The second phase is for Proof-of- Value. This is open to applicants who wish to carry out further R&D on the project, including the development of a working prototype. Successful applicants can receive grant support of 85% of up to $500,000 to fund the development from proof-of-concept to productisation and commercialisation.

6. “Technology projects, especially the development of in-house proprietary technology, have very high inherent risks. The support from the Technology Enterprise Commercialisation Scheme will help SMEs like Cal-Comp to mitigate some of these risks. This will encourage SMEs and entrepreneurs to embark on R&D activities, thereby contributing to the national efforts in promoting R&D activities and developing research talents,” said Mr Jeff Chan, Managing Director of Cal-Comp Technology Pte Ltd, a local company specialising in hard disk drive development, as well as design and engineering services for hard disk drive products, communication technologies and printers.

7. Mr Mike Holt, CEO of Singapore-based technology start-up, XID Technologies agrees. “XID is changing how people secure data and locations with the world’s only face recognition software that functions reliably in varying lighting conditions, like with laptops, phones and outdoor physical access systems. Proving this technology onto mass market image sensors takes this to the next level. SPRING’s Technology Enterprise Commercialisation Scheme will enable us to make this real,” said Mr Holt.

8. Following the success of the inaugural event last year, SPRING further expanded this year’s SPRING Enterprise Conference from a half-day event into a full-day Conference, focusing on the theme: “Growing Innovative Enterprises”. Some 450 participants from leading SMEs, Chambers of Commerce and Industry Associations attended the Conference.

9. As the Platinum Sponsor, HSBC believes the SPRING Enterprise Conference is an important platform for communicating with SMEs. And according to Ms Serene Soh, HSBC’s Senior Vice-President and Head of SME, Singapore SMEs have what it takes to succeed, not just at home but internationally. “SMEs are the key to our business at HSBC. That’s why we use our extensive international network and global experience to help SMEs establish themselves abroad,” Ms Soh said.

10. Highlights of the event included a keynote speech by Mr Paul Peeters, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Philips Electronics Singapore Pte Ltd, on how Philips has leveraged on innovation to grow. Parallel workshops on four key capability areas – Money, Markets, Management and Know-how were also held to provide participants with a deeper understanding of each area.

11. The SPRING Enterprise Conference 2008 was sponsored by Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited (HSBC) and co-sponsored by SAP and Coface. The official media partner was The Straits Times.

Fact Sheet on Technology Enterprise Commercialisation Scheme (TECS)

What is TECS?

SPRING Singapore’s Technology Enterprise Commercialisation Scheme (TECS) can provide the vital resources to help convert breakthrough R&D concepts and proprietary IP into promising businesses.

By addressing early-stage funding gaps, TECS aims to help technology enterprises and entrepreneurs in Singapore to grow past their embryonic phase, secure third party funding and achieve growing revenues.

Who can apply?

Technology-savvy entrepreneurs and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) can all apply. They can tap on TECS if their company meets the following criteria :

  • at least 30% of the shareholding is local
  • the company’s group fixed assets are below $15 million
  • the company has no more than 200 employees (for companies in the services sector)
  • physically present in Singapore
  • registered/incorporated for less than 5 years at the time of the award
  • has at least one in-house technology engineer or scientist
  • Individual Principal Investigators, as well as research scientists and engineers from public sector research organisations are also considered for funding under the Proof-of-Concept (POC) phase

How does TECS work?

TECS is a competitive grant in which proposals are ranked based on the evaluation of a team of reviewers, and the best proposals are funded. We will invite submissions twice a year for Proof-of-Concept (POC) and Proof-of-Value (POV) proposals through the TECS website http://www.spring.gov.sg/tecs.

Proof-of-Concept (POC)

POC is for applicants who wish to develop ideas at the conceptualization stage.

Applicants are invited to submit proposals for proof-of-concept of their proprietary technology ideas. All proposals will first be assessed on their technically feasibility and commercial potential. Individual applicants will be required to demonstrate commitment to continue their technology commercialisation work in the event they are awarded a grant and successfully complete the project.

Up to 100% of qualifying costs for each project will be supported, up to maximum of S$250,000.

Proof-of-Value (POV)

POV is for applicants who are keen to carry out further R&D on a technology project, including the development of a working prototype. This project must be based on a proprietary technology IP which has successfully demonstrated proof-of-concept.

Applicants are required to demonstrate proof-of-interest from a potential customer or 3rd party investor. You will also have to demonstrate the necessary business competencies to execute the project.

Up to 85% of qualifying costs for each project will be supported, up to maximum of S$500,000.

Qualifying costs include :

  • Manpower-related costs
  • Professional Services
  • Equipment/ Software
  • Intellectual Property Rights
  • Materials & Consumables
  • Other Operating Expenditure

What are the areas of focus?

We welcome proposals in the areas of :

  • Electronics, Photonics & Device Technologies
  • Chemicals, Materials Science, Nano Technology
  • Optical, Wireless and Hybrid Communications Systems
  • Biomedical Sciences (excluding Biotechnology)

What is deadline for submission of proposals?

There will be a Call for Proposals once every 6 months. The first Call for Proposals will begin 17 Apr 08. The deadline for submission is 30 Jun 08. Applicants are welcome to submit proposals for both Proof-of-Concept and Proof-of-Value phases. Shortlisted applicants will be informed within 6 – 8 weeks after the closing date for submission.

Where can I find more information?

For more information on TECS, please visit http://www.spring.gov.sg/tecs or contact the EnterpriseOne hotline at Tel: (65) 6898 1800 or email enterpriseone@spring.gov.sg.

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