Going Global: How Singapore Incentivises Startups with the MRA Grant

Overseas markets are likely to see more Singapore enterprises with the enhanced Market Readiness Assistance (MRA) grant. First introduced in 2013, Singapore’s MRA grant gets a second extension till March 31, 2023, to encourage the internationalisation of its local startups and enterprises. This is further expanded from $20,000 a year to $100,000 across three years in the recent Budget 2020 announcement.

In today’s interconnected world, globalisation is inevitable for the growth of local businesses. It is especially more so for Singapore’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs) given its small and limited local market. However, venturing into a new foreign market can be daunting and costly and these had deterred the expansion of most local SMEs. To incentivise and motivate growth and global expansion, Enterprise Singapore (ESG), a governmental agency under the purview of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, has introduced the MRA grant to provide funding and information for local enterprises, especially SMEs, who wish to internationalise and grow their businesses.

With this government support in place, enterprises in Singapore not only have the opportunity to expand and explore the potential of their businesses in the global market, they will also have the flexibility to make the necessary adjustment to their respective operational and structural approaches.

Benefits of Singapore’s Market Readiness Assistance (MRA) Grant

With the announcement of Singapore’s Budget 2020 in February, the enhanced MRA grant has since introduced extended timelines and upgraded grant schemes. Some of these newly implemented incentives include:

  • Enhanced financial support
  • Wider coverage of activities
Desfran- Key Changes to Singapore's MRA grant

Enhanced Financial Support

Under the refreshed MRA grant, a few financial incentives are enhanced to better support local companies in their overseas ventures. Firstly, the limitation on the applications for the MRA grant has been lifted. Companies are now allowed to submit more than two applications in a year. However, the rule for each grant remains the same –each application can only cover one activity and the unused grant cannot be carried forward to the following year.   

Besides the abolishment of application quota, the monetary support level for projects and expansion activities remain at 70%, and the deadline of this incentive has been extended by three more years to March 31, 2023. The maximum grant for this financial support has also been increased from S$20,000 each year, to S$100,000 per new market over the three years.

With these upgraded incentives, the financial burden of local companies setting up businesses in new foreign markets will be largely alleviated.

Wider Coverage of Activities

Desfran- MRA Grant Eligible Activities

Understanding that financial aids alone are not enough, the MRA grant also partially supports business projects and activities. Besides the existing qualifying activities, the enhanced MRA grant has expanded its supportable activities to include professional consultancy services, allowing companies to enjoy a more well-rounded support from the government.

These targeted activities can be categorised into four key areas. Firstly, business set-up in the overseas market. This includes expenses related to market entry assessment, such as advisory, legal and documentation costs. Moreover, the third-party costs incurred to identify overseas business partners through business matching have also been included. Thirdly, activities related to overseas market promotion, such as marketing, PR activities, trade show space rentals and many more, are also considered as qualifying activities under the MRA grant.

Lastly, consultancy services namely in-depth Free Trade Agreement (FTA) consultancy services to help companies better leverage FTAs in target markets and in-market business development consultancy services to identify and deploy suitable employees to carry out business expansion activities in the target market have been included in the list of supportable activities as well.

Such support will allow SMEs to make informed decisions while expanding their businesses overseas, offsetting some of their costs and better prepare them for future challenges.


Applying for the MRA Grant

With all the benefits highlighted above, it is no doubt that the MRA grant is an attractive scheme for companies that wish to expand their businesses overseas. However, in order to enjoy these benefits, SMEs must be a local entity in Singapore with a group annual turnover less than S$100 million per year or group employment less than or equal to 200 people.

To ensure the success of having the MRA grant, the application steps are highlighted as follows:  

1.    Cost Quotations

The applicant should first request quotations for all the qualifying activities that they are considering to adopt from a third-party vendor, usually a business consultancy company or PR agency.

2.    Business Grants Portal

After having the estimated costs for the activities, the company can then proceed to submit its application along with the quotations through the Business Grants Portal, a one-stop platform for businesses to apply for government grants.

3.    Claim

The MRA grant can only be dispersed on a reimbursement basis. Thus, all claims can only be done after the applicant received an offer letter from ESG. The timeframe for the claims is limited within three months of the project end date.

Any retrospective applications will not be considered. This means that a company wishing to apply for the grant cannot engage in any agreement, make initial payment or deposit as well as commence a project with a third-party consultant at the point of application. The claiming process is simple and done through the Business Grants Portal as well.

Go Global Today

Singapore is a small market with a lot of aspiring entrepreneurs and businesses that lack an economic platform to showcase their potential. With the newly enhanced MRA grant, these businesses will have the opportunity and the support of the Singapore government for their global growth in new foreign markets.

To understand more about the benefits of the MRA grant and how your company can better prepare to go global, it is best to engage business consultancy experts like Desfran. Spearheaded by one of the world’s leading management teams, our team of seasoned experts stationed in more than five cities across the globe are dedicated to help you with your global ambitions, identify and maximise your business potential in the overseas market.

As a one-stop solutions provider, Desfran not only provides new market entry consultancy services, your new market requirements like business registration, bank account opening, and marketing services can all be fulfilled through Desfran’s bespoke solutions. You should be assured that Desfran has not only received MRA grant offers for its overseas marketing needs, but it is also a service provider for the MRA grant’s supportable activities as well.

Contact us today to grow your business globally.

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Singapore Budget 2020: New multi-platform package to help firms grow and go global, Straitstimes.com

Market Readiness Assistance (MRA) Grant, Startupdecisions.com.sg

What Is The Market Readiness Assistance (MRA) Grant And How To Apply For It, Dollarsandsense.sg

Go Global, Enterprisesg.gov.sg

Market Readiness Assistance (MRA) Grant, Enterprisesg.gov.sg

Capability upgrading, innovation and internationalisation, Enterprisesg.gov.sg

Enhancements to Market Readiness Assistance (MRA) Grant [pdf], Mti.gov.sg

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