What is the purpose of the grant?
The Innovation and Capability Voucher (“ICV voucher”) was introduced in June 2012 to help Small and Medium Enterprises (“SMEs”) cope with the rising labor cost by increasing productivity and improving their capabilities. The increased revenue would help SMEs maintain their profit margins.
The government set a budget of SGD 32 million to be utilized over four years (Year 2012 – 2016). In 2014, an additional SGD10m was earmarked in the budget for this scheme. Initially, ICV vouchers could only be used to engage consultancy services. However, based on SMEs’ feedback, SPRING Singapore enhanced the existing scheme to include solution implementations in 2014.
Why should I claim my ICV Vouchers?
ICV vouchers are a good starting point for SMEs to be exposed to consultancy services or integrated solutions. Based on the current scheme, all qualified local enterprises would be given eight vouchers valued at SGD5,000 each. These vouchers can be used for projects in selected areas including consultancy projects and integrated solutions.
Consultancy solutions are classified into four categories, namely financial management, innovation, productivity and human resources. Some of the popular services include financial planning, customer insights, intellectual property and ISO certification. The full list of consulting services is available here.
There are various integrated solutions provided under the ICV scheme. Some of the more popular solutions include appointment scheduling and booking system, document management system, point-of-sales system and restaurant wireless paging system. The full list of integrated solutions is available here.
How do I qualify for ICV vouchers?
All local enterprises that are registered and operating in Singapore can apply for ICV vouchers if they meet the following criteria:
- At least 30% local shareholding
- EITHER Group annual revenue of SGD100m and below OR 200 employees and below
Things to note about the ICV scheme
ICV vouchers allow you to claim 100% of the project cost, if below SGD5,000
SMEs are allowed to claim the full amount of the ICV voucher. The Productivity and Innovation Grant (“PIC”) and Capability Development Grant (“CDG”) only allow SMEs to claim 40% (for cash claims) and 70% of project value respectively. On the contrary, you will have no cash outlay if your project or solution costs less than SGD5,000.
There will be no risk of non-approval as all projects will be pre-approved before the start of the engagement . Unlike PIC, clients will have certainty on whether the project is claimable.
The vouchers have an absolute value of SGD5,000 each
There could be cases whereby the local enterprise would seek a project of a bigger scope. In that case, the project fees could exceed SGD5,000. This excess would have to be borne by the SME. On the other hand, there will also be no refund/rebate for projects below SGD5,000. In a nutshell, a voucher can only be used once, regardless of the project value.
SMEs can only engage accredited service providers for consultancy and integrated solution projects
To ensure that your projects are handled by experienced providers, SPRING Singapore has pre-qualified a list of service providers/consultants. However, the project scope is determined through discussions between you and the providers.
Each SME will only have eight vouchers
Every local enterprise that meets the qualifying criteria only has eight ICV vouchers in the whole life of the company. You can only use two vouchers for each category. Hence, it is advised that you use these vouchers wisely and only in areas with real business needs. Also, we advise you to be selective with the service providers. While all service providers follow the standard scope provided by SPRING Singapore, the methodology and depth could differ.
Two or more ICV vouchers can be used for each consultant
The benefit of using the same consultant for different projects is continuity. While you can engage the same consultant with two or more vouchers, it has to be scoped in phases. In fact, each SME can only use one ICV voucher at any one point in time until the phase is completed.
ICV vouchers can be used to test the suitability of engaged consultants
SPRING Singapore views ICV vouchers as a stepping stone for SMEs to try out consultancy engagement. Its intention is to push SMEs to engage consultants for a bigger project scope under CDG. As one consultant put it, ICV vouchers are for sampling a consultant’s service. After you are satisfied and comfortable with this consultant, then you can proceed to a bigger project that can be claimed under CDG.
ICV vouchers can be used for up to two years of an integrated solution subscription
For integrated solutions, an ICV voucher can cover onboarding services, customization, related training, certain hardware and up to two years of subscription. The supportable component differs between solutions.
Speed of approval varies
While it is stated that the estimated approval process will take six weeks, the speed of approval varies. It can take as little as two days and as long as a few months. The approval is processed by a small group of experts engaged by SPRING Singapore, and they determine the speed of the process.
Project length has to be less than six months
The prescribed length of each project is a maximum of six months. Typically, most consultants will finish the project within one to two months. If you need an extension on the project, you will need to appeal through SPRING Singapore.
How can Olea help you?
Olea Private Limited, a sister company of Excide, is a boutique consulting firm founded in 2011. It is accredited by SPRING Singapore to provide financial advisory services under Innovation and Capability Voucher (“ICV”) scheme. Over the years, Olea has served over 30 clients under the ICV scheme.
In the scheme, you would be able to obtain a financial model tailored to your organization. If you are interested in getting more details, please feel free to email Sam at email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org or call at 96981755.
Projects that can be covered under the ICV scheme include:
Financial assessment and planning for growth: To assist SMEs chart out and validate their financial needs, given their business expansion plans
Planning and budgeting: To assist SME structure and implement proper planning and budgeting practices in managing overall financial resources
Cash flow and working capital management: To assist SME to identify, assess and address gaps in cash-flow and working capital management