Moving SMEs up the productivity and innovation ladder for growth

SPRING helps companies enhance their operations and restructure to capture new growth opportunities by offering a range of assistance schemes

AS the enterprise development agency, SPRING Singapore continues to build a conducive ecosystem for SMEs to thrive, enabling SMEs to enhance their productivity, innovation and business capabilities which are important pillars of growth.

Since the 1980s, Singapore has made significant economic progress by upgrading the skills of its workforce and supporting companies in their efforts to enhance operations. The stability and wealth of our economy depends on a strong backbone of sustainable and productive companies, which can create good jobs for a skilled local workforce. Strengthening our pro-enterprise environment to continue attracting foreign investment is also critical as Singapore maintains its position as one of the best places to do business.

As Singapore pursues economic restructuring efforts and moves towards a value-creating economy, the drive to raise productivity, spur innovation and build business capabilities remains a core focus.

SPRING recognises the need to address issues such as increasing global competition, domestic restructuring and rising costs. Our SMEs have developed good business capabilities over the years. But for them to seize new opportunities for growth, they need to innovate and develop new capabilities.

To help companies enhance their operations and restructure to capture new growth opportunities, there are various assistance schemes from SPRING that SMEs can tap ranging from grants and vouchers to loans.


Streamlining operations and boosting energy efficiency: One way to boost productivity is to look into improving business processes.

Heng Long Leather, a leading tannery that supplies high quality exotic leather to major international fashion houses and customers globally, has seen crocodile leather demand grow by double digits over the years. The company wanted to improve the overall efficiency of its business processes and cut production lead time to meet growing customer demand.

With SPRING's Capability Development Grant (CDG) support, Heng Long reviewed and enhanced its business processes. Coupled with an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, it was able to streamline its business operations and gain access to real-time data to enable better business planning.

The CDG is a financial assistance programme that helps enterprises upgrade by covering up to 70 per cent of the projected costs, which may include consultancy, manpower, training and certification.

Heng Long later embarked on the SME Energy Efficiency Initiative to assess, monitor and lower the energy consumption footprint of its operations. It underwent an audit to review the energy usage at its premises and key equipment and systems were studied to identify areas for improvement. The production process was then streamlined and energy-efficient equipment was introduced.

These initiatives have helped Heng Long optimise its business and production processes, while enabling it to increase its production capacity to expand its business.


Building innovative capabilities to be productive: Improving and acquiring new business capabilities is another way to be more productive and grow.

Recognising that its manufacturing processes for cosmetic lenses were labour-intensive and may be uncompetitive in the long term, Oculus, an innovator and manufacturer of cosmetic contact lenses, decided to develop new capabilities in the manufacturing of cosmetic contact lenses.

The CDG helped Oculus defray up to 70 per cent of the cost of establishing a new cast mould manufacturing platform, which was seen as a new technology breakthrough for the company on contact lenses.

The benefits of the project were tangible. Besides improved productivity and a lower dependence on labour for its manufacturing processes, Oculus was able to reduce costs while gaining greater control over the quality, technical support and supply of cosmetic contact lenses.

The new capabilities strengthened Oculus' know-how in contact lens development and manufacturing. With its initial success in encouraging further in-house innovation, Oculus gained a stronger edge over its competitors and presses on to grow its manufacturing capacity.


Singapore's productivity and innovation drive is not a sprint but a marathon, and SMEs play a critical role in this journey as they contributed to about 50 per cent of Singapore's Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

SPRING is committed to supporting businesses for long-term growth through innovation and productivity.

  • This article was contributed by SPRING Singapore.