In a press conference today, the Action Community for Entrepreneurship (ACE) as led SPRING Singapore announced the overhaul of the Yes! Startups (or Young Entrepreneur Scheme for Startups) scheme, which will be replaced by a new initiative called ACE Startups. The newer scheme, aimed at helping to generate a more entrepreneurial mindset in Singapore, will see financial support for entrepreneurs at a similar level to Yes! Startups, but removes the previous applicant age restriction to below 26 years old.
“When ACE was formed almost a decade ago, the focus was on areas like financing, rules and regulations, internationalization and fostering a culture of entrepreneurship,” said Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry Teo Ser Luck, also ACE‘s chairman, at the press conference. “Going forward, we will focus more on helping aspiring entrepreneurs start their companies and guide them to become sustainable businesses.”
“While we will be providing seed funding, our main focus is to link entrepreneurs to critical resources, such as mentors and networks,” he added. To this effect, ACE is starting a steering committee and various sub-committees (you can tell we love our committees) to oversee mentoring, networking, overseas chapters, and communications, for new startups. These subcommittees will be helmed by established local entrepreneurs who will provide guidance and oversight.
Just A New Coat of Paint?
When queried, Teo admitted that much of the funding for the new ACE Startups comes from remaining funds previously set aside for Yes! Startups, but added that additional funding may be set aside to help achieve the target of over 500 startups within the next year or so.
While some may argue that the removal of the age restriction is simply to help boost the applicant pool to achieve some internal targets, the good news is this means the scheme now open ups to mid-career professionals considering a leap into starting their own businesses. Previously, the scheme was pretty much limited to young entrepreneurs who are just leaving school, and I personally know some older aspiring professionals who would have loved a leg up with this grant.
On the other hand, for those who of us who are above 26 years old and recently set up your business, you may be out of luck. The scheme is still targeted at those who’ve not previously registered or incorporated any business entity (or received prior funding for another government agency), and will not be applied retrospectively.
Alas, that rules me out of the new grant scheme.
Is the ACE Startups scheme simply a case of putting lipstick on pigs? Feel free to comment below.