SINGAPORE: A new programme aimed at grooming high-growth businesses here was launched by Enterprise Singapore on Wednesday (Jul 10), with 25 companies, including household names Jumbo Group and Koufu, making the cut for the pioneer batch.

First announced during Budget 2019, the Scale-up SG programme aims to help companies with attributes such as proven track records, the ability to create economic spin-offs for Singapore and strong growth ambitions, develop into future “global champions”, said the trade promotion agency which is running the new initiative.

Over the next two-and-a-half years, the 25 companies will go through three key phases aimed at helping them strategise and execute their acceleration plans. These include activities such as executive business programmes with leading institutes of higher learning, peer networking and industry sharing sessions.

Through that, companies are expected to benefit from peer learning and collaboration, development of the leadership team and succession planning, as well as gain access to expertise and networks to Enterprise Singapore and its partners.

Enterprise Singapore will work with partners from both the public and private sectors and for the inaugural run, consultancy firms McKinsey & Company and PwC Singapore have been selected as anchor partners.

Other suitable partners, such as relevant industry experts or agencies like the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore and Agency for Science, Technology and Research, will be roped in when necessary.

Speaking at the launch, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing described the new initiative as a “very targeted” approach to help strengthen companies which he described as the “core”.

These are small- and medium-sized companies with revenues ranging from tens of millions to hundreds of millions or more. For Singapore to do well in its next lap of economic development, this group of businesses will need to be strengthened, said Mr Chan.

“We compare our own performance across the best around the world – are we doing as best as we should be? There’s still much to learn.

“(This is) a very focused programme where we dedicate resources to help the core to scale up (and) bulk up, so that one day they too will be competing with the best in their respective industries at the global level.”

And as these companies do so, more and better jobs will be created for Singaporeans, added Mr Chan.

For the inaugural run, the companies selected come from varying revenue sizes of about S$10 million to over S$300 million, and industry clusters such as lifestyle and consumer and trade and connectivity said Enterprise Singapore chairman Peter Ong.

There is also a mix of corporate-run and family-owned businesses, with the latter accounting for about one third.

Apart from well-known F&B names Jumbo Group, Koufu and 4Fingers, other businesses include industrial vehicle leasing giant Goldbell Corporation, retailer SK Jewellery, childcare service provider EtonHouse International and precision manufacturer AEM Holdings.

This diversity will ensure peer learning and cross-pollination of ideas, said Mr Ong.

“From our kick-off sessions, I heard questions like ‘Can anyone help me with the marketing strategy for China?’ or ‘How do you share profits across senior management?’ While the participants come from very different sectors, these challenges are shared by many participating CEOs.”

Coming from varying sectors, business leaders can offer different perspectives and learn from one another, added Mr Ong.

For family-owned businesses that often face the added complexity of leadership succession, Mr Ong said a key part of the Scale-up SG programme aims to involve the CEOs of these firms and their family members.

“Family members are also involved so that leadership across more than one generation can learn and develop together under a nurturing environment,” he said.

Jumbo Group, for one, is hoping to pick up advice on a smooth leadership succession as its third generation starts to get involved in the business.

“The young people will ask why do it this way … it is different styles of thinking so we got to moderate and strike a balance,” said Group CEO and second-generation leader Ang Kiam Meng.

The seafood restaurant chain is also looking for guidance in the areas of talent management and more importantly, expansion beyond Singapore. Mr Ang told CNA that earlier headwinds like a slowdown in China’s economy have seen the company growing less quickly as it hoped.

“At a time when we are going out of Singapore, this programme is timely. We have met with headwinds and growth has not been as fast as what we wanted, so it’s good to seek answers and see how we can go faster.”

Mr Ang added: “Asia is the main region that we want to expand into, but we don’t rule out Australia, Northern America and Europe. We hope one day, our brand name can be as strong as Shake Shack and Din Tai Fung.”

Another local firm Durapower Holdings, which provides electric vehicle battery and energy storage system solutions, said it has grown rapidly from S$3 million to S$50 million in revenue over the past five years.

By joining the programme, it hopes to double its revenue to S$100 million in the next three years by entering new markets, such as India, and launching new products in the field of renewable energy, said Group CEO Kelvin Lim.

With Singapore’s economy entering a new phase and amid rising uncertainties, developing strong enterprises with real capabilities will be key, said Mr Ong from Enterprise Singapore. “We all know that during uncertain times, it is the strong and high ambition companies that survive.”

Enterprise Singapore aims to have two to three runs of the Scale-up SG programme each year, with each batch involving 20 to 30 firms. It will likely remain on an invitation-only basis, with companies selected due to their ambitions and growth trajectories, though businesses are welcomed to indicate their interest.

The agency will support up to 70 per cent of the participation cost, it said.

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