Last updated: 13 March 2023

Published on: 29 December 2017


SMEs can now tap on the expertise of A*STAR, ITE and institutes of higher learning in their journey of digital transformation

IMDA Industry Briefing 2017
IMDA Industry Briefing highlights
Some highlights of the activities at the IMDA Industry Briefing.


If you are running a small and medium-sized enterprise (SME), there’s plenty of good news for you on the technology upgrade front.

From a strategic perspective, creating a Singapore that continues to be globally competitive entails helping SMEs to take advantage of the opportunities in the digital economy.

This includes forging partnerships to enable innovation and growth, which will benefit more enterprises in a synergistic manner.

Through the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA)’s SMEs Go Digital programme, the digitalisation efforts of small companies have been given a greater boost, with new collaborations with the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) and 10 institutes of higher learning (IHLs).

IMDA Industry Briefing highlights
IMDA CEO Tan Kiat How shared about the various partnerships that will help SMEs with digital transformation.

In particular, SMEs can now benefit from advanced consultancy services — provided on a complimentary basis by IMDA’s partners  — to help them adopt relevant digital technologies to boost productivity and business performance.

They can also look forward to building new digital skills through courses and workshops.

The new partnerships were unveiled at the third IMDA industry briefing under the SMEs Go Digital programme on 17 November 2017.

This programme is part of IMDA’s efforts to enable local SMEs with digital capabilities to achieve internal efficiencies and cost reductions, and improve their service offerings for sustained growth in the digital economy.

“With these partnerships with A*STAR, ITE and IHLs, and together with the existing suite of partners that we have on board, such as the banks and telecommunications companies, we believe that we’re going to bring a bigger push to help SMEs in every sector in our economy better adopt technologies,” said Mr Tan Kiat How, Chief Executive of IMDA.

Here are four key takeaways from the Briefing for all SMEs gearing up for digital transformation:

1. Advanced consultancy services from A*STAR

IMDA Industry Briefing Shaik
Business owners and partners finding out more about IMDA's SMEs Go Digital programme.

The rapid digital technology advancement and challenges of digital transformation make it hard for SMEs to know where they lag and where they lead relative to their market and peers. This is why external business support and advice are important for SME success.

The new partnership between IMDA and A*STAR means that SMEs can look forward to working with A*STAR, whose facilitators will assist in helping them understand their digital needs and prioritise their digital investments. In addition, small companies will receive support in mapping out a longer-term strategy that identifies digital technologies aligned with their business goals, as well as allocating resources at the appropriate timing for optimal impact.

Companies in need of these services can connect with business advisors at the SME Centres, who can help refer them to principal consultants at the SME Digital Tech Hub for advanced consultancy services.

The SME Digital Tech Hub, which has been operating since end-September 2017, provides specialist consultancy services to SMEs that have more advanced digital needs, such as data analytics and cybersecurity, with the aim of helping them understand which digital technologies are relevant to their sectors, and lowering the barriers to adoption.

2. Prototyping solutions with ITE and IHLs

IMDA Industry Briefing
The various partner booths at the Industry Briefing drew a lot of attention and queries.

Due to limited resources, many small companies struggle to develop, test and commercialise new products and services.

Now, however, SMEs planning to create market-ready digital solutions to improve their service offerings can leverage the resources and expertise offered by ITE and IHLs. They will get support to develop and test customised digital solutions, and prototype them for deployment with help from infocomm media (ICM) vendors.

IHLs that have partnered with IMDA include Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Nanyang Polytechnic, Republic Polytechnic, Singapore Polytechnic, Temasek Polytechnic, National University of Singapore, Singapore Institute of Technology, Singapore Management University (SMU), Singapore University of Social Science, and Singapore University of Technology and Design.

Companies can access these resources through the SME Digital Tech Hub, which will likewise assess their individual situation and connect them to the appropriate IHL. Use the Chief Technology Officer-as-a-Service to request for digital advisory and project management services. Check your digital readiness and receive recommendations on digital solutions that best meet your business needs. Visit the SME Centre if you require business advice. 

3. New courses for SME workers looking to skill up

SME employees looking to build digital skills can sign up for ICM courses at the ITE and IHLs, which are offered in line with the national SkillsFuture movement. These courses are aimed at equipping workers with capabilities that can help drive their companies’ digital transformation.

For example, SMU Academy will offer training programmes in cybersecurity, analytics, cloud computing, and the Internet of Things.

Tan Kiat How
Mr Tan Kiat How: "It’s about providing a future for Singaporeans, ensuring our companies remain relevant and that our workers have the skill sets to thrive in future workplaces."

4. A greater role to play for ICM vendors

IMDA continues to encourage more ICM solution providers to take part in the SMEs Go Digital programme through its open call for pre-approved digital solutions for SMEs.

So far, 69 digital solutions have been pre-approved, and since the official launch of the SMEs Go Digital programme in April 2017, 480 SMEs have adopted the pre-approved solutions. This has, in turn, helped the solution providers generate more than $8.5 million in revenue.

With this new call, IMDA will be looking at solutions with applications in more than just one industry.

Mr Tan added: “We’ll be making a greater push beyond retail and logistics into other sectors, and some of the solutions we will approve for retail and logistics will be solutions that we see potential in also (benefiting) other sectors and (being) adopted by them.”

Ultimately, the aim of the SMEs Go Digital programme is to help Singaporean workers, 70 per cent of whom are employed by SMEs.

“It’s about providing a future for Singaporeans, ensuring our companies remain relevant and that our workers have the skill sets to thrive in future workplaces,” explained Mr Tan.