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Innovation & Capability Voucher Expanded to Support SMEs in Business and Productivity Improvements and Solutions

  • Date
    27 Jan 2014
  • In This Story
  • Reference Number NR/03/14

Additional S$10 million set aside to fund the enhanced scheme

1. From 1 March 2014, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) can look forward to more support in putting their business improvement plans into action with the enhanced Innovation and Capability Voucher (ICV) scheme. The government will be expanding the scope of ICV beyond consultancy services to support implementation of solutions in the four capability areas of innovation, productivity, human resources development, and financial management. The enhanced ICV was announced today by the Minister of State for Trade and Industry Teo Ser Luck after a walkabout session at the Alexandra Village. This is part of the outreach efforts under the SME Workgroup.

2. The enhancement results from feedback to the Government through the SME Workgroup that SMEs may not necessarily require consultancy services to diagnose a problem or propose solutions. The enhanced ICV would allow SMEs who want to implement solutions to meet their business challenges but face resource constraints, to take their first step towards capability upgrading.

3. Minister of State for Trade and Industry Teo Ser Luck said, “We have been actively engaging the SMEs through different platforms, including the SME Workgroup outreach sessions. Expanding the scope of the ICV is a response to their feedback and will help SMEs, especially heartland businesses, further their productivity improvements. SMEs are encouraged to leverage this enhanced ICV to continue to enhance and transform their businesses.”

4. To encourage more SMEs to take their first step to upgrade, the enhanced ICV will cover the implementation of recommendations from business consultations, as well as direct procurement of solutions in the four capability areas. This way, they can better manage costs, raise productivity and efficiency, and strengthen their business operations to achieve sustainable growth.

5. Under the existing ICV, SMEs can apply for vouchers each valued at $5,000 for redemption of consultancy services provided by pre-approved service providers under the four capability areas. With the enhanced ICV, SMEs can implement solutions from the categories of (i) equipment & hardware; (ii) technical solutions; (iii) professional services and (iv) design & renovation. Each SME may apply for a maximum of two vouchers to implement solutions out of the eight vouchers which it is currently eligible for under the existing ICV. The maximum cap of two vouchers per capability areas for consultancy services remains the same.

6. Skylace Language School is a SME which has taken its first step towards improving its business productivity by utilising ICV. The school employs 14 teachers and operates five enrichment centres which offer Chinese enrichment classes for children. It also provides training service for teachers. Through an ICV (Productivity) project, Skylace conducted an overall business diagnosis on its management and key business operations and identified areas for improvement. These areas include improving its retention strategy, streamlining its processes and better management of data for greater competitiveness in the market. With the enhanced ICV, Skylace may implement solutions like software programmes for streamlining its existing processes and creating a centralised database for ease of information management and marketing purposes.

7. To support the enhancement and encourage more SMEs to upgrade, the government will be setting aside an additional S$10 million to fund ICV. This will bring the total amount set aside for ICV to S$42 million. To date, about 3,000 vouchers have been issued since the ICV was launched in June 2012.

8. More information on the ICV can be found at For enquiries on ICV, SMEs can call EnterpriseOne at 6898 1800.

About SME Workgroup
The SME Workgroup was formed in September 2013 as part of the government’s proactive efforts to build a strong and competitive SME sector in Singapore. Led by the Minister of State for Trade and Industry, Teo Ser Luck, the workgroup brings together Grassroots Advisors, government agencies and business representatives for the first time. It will not only act as a sounding board for the government, but will also oversee the implementation of various government programmes and schemes related to SMEs. Gaps will be identified and recommendations will be made to improve existing policies related to SMEs. Grassroots Advisors have started actively engaging SMEs through various outreach efforts from October 2013. As of January 2014, there were 17 outreach sessions in various constituencies that were attended by SMEs from different sectors.

Fact Sheet on the Enhanced Innovation & Capability Voucher (ICV)


1. Launched in June 2012, the Innovation & Capability Voucher (ICV) scheme supports SMEs taking their early steps in innovation and capability development. The S$5,000 voucher can be used to engage consultancy services from pre-approved service providers in four core business capabilities areas - innovation, productivity, human resource development and financial management. Each SME can apply for a maximum of two vouchers in each area, up to a maximum of eight vouchers for the period of the scheme.

2. A total budget of S$32 million over four years was set aside to cater for 6,400 vouchers. Since its launch, about 3,000 vouchers have been awarded and of these, 1,700 projects were completed by about 1,550 SMEs. Of the SMEs that have tapped ICV, more than 1,000 or 45% are micro-enterprises1. Projects carried out by SMEs include conducting diagnostics of capability gaps, upgrading of processes, conducting feasibility studies, developing new products or services, and adopting relevant standards for business growth.

Enhanced Innovation & Capability Voucher (ICV)

3. While the ICV has seen strong take-up, there has also been feedback that some SMEs may not require consultancy services to diagnose capability gaps or propose solutions.

4. From 1 March 2014, another S$10 million will be allocated to enhance the existing ICV to support SMEs in implementing solutions in the existing four ICV capability areas. Supportable solutions could be specific follow-ups from completed business consultations or solutions which can upgrade SMEs’ capabilities. With the enhancement, SMEs can receive support in (i) Equipment & Hardware; (ii) Technical Solutions; (iii) Professional Services and (iv) Design & Renovation. To qualify for this enhanced support, SMEs must show the solutions can lead to outcomes such as improving efficiency by optimising work processes, enhancing effectiveness through better deployment of resources or achieving an increase in sales. Under the Enhanced ICV, each SME can now receive a maximum of two vouchers for the implementation of supportable solutions. SMEs can apply to SPRING for the S$5,000 vouchers to support the solutions, on a reimbursement basis.

5. The objective of ICV as a scheme to support SMEs for the first steps towards capability development remains unchanged. The following support levels will continue to apply :
  1. The total number each SME can receive for the period remains at eight vouchers.
  2. The maximum number of vouchers for consultancy projects is two for each of the capability areas (innovation, productivity, human resource development and financial management). Enterprises that have benefited from ICV and wish to proceed with projects of greater scope and intensity are welcome to apply for support from SPRING’s Capability Development Grant (CDG).
  3. ICV projects should be undertaken sequentially. SMEs will need to complete each ICV project prior to a new application. Each voucher is valid for a period of six months from the approval date within which the project must be completed.
  4. All local SMEs can apply for ICV if they are physically located and registered in Singapore, have at least 30% local shareholding, and have group annual sales of not more than $100 million or group employment size not exceeding 200 employees.
6. Interested applicants may visit the SPRING ICV website or contact the EnterpriseOne Hotline at 6898 1800 for more information. The Enhanced ICV will take effect and be open for applications from 1 March 2014 onwards.

1 Micro-enterprises are defined as enterprises with less than $1m annual sales turnover.