New Enhanced Singapore EntrePass promises numerous positive changes to help Global Entrepreneurs
The Ministries of Manpower; Trade and Industry along with enterprise evaluation agency, Spring Singapore and Startup SG recently announced enhancement to the evaluation criteria to allow founders of global innovative startups to enter and establish business in Singapore during the early exploration stage.
Following the announcement, one needs to pay attention to six important points:
– Broader Evaluation Criteria
The qualifying criteria for EntrePass application have now been broadened to attract promising foreign entrepreneurial talents. New evaluation criteria have been added to the earlier four qualifying criteria and applicants are required to meet at least one of the minimum qualifying criteria. The newly added criteria are entrepreneurial and investment track record, business network and key achievements in the applicant’s areas of expertise. The newly added criteria would be specifically helpful for early stage startups and innovators who are in the exploratory stage. The earlier criteria were in favor of entrepreneurs and innovators who had already secured a foothold in Singapore in the form of funding and research collaborations but precluded foreign entrepreneurs and innovators in the early stage of setting up their business.
– Removal of Paid-Up Capital
Previously EntrePass applicants were required to have a paid-up capital of S$50,000. In the Enhanced EntrePass Scheme this requirement has been abolished and EntrePass holders can now incorporate a company with a paid-up capital of S$1. With this, applicants need not commit capital early on in the venture. Entrepreneurs and innovators looking to set up business in Singapore hail from all countries and some of the applicants may have felt the S$50,000 capital requirement prohibitive. With the capital commitment criteria removed, now it would be easy for such applicants.
– Validity of EntrePass
The validity period of each EntrePass will be extended from one to two years after the first renewal to provide more certainty for global entrepreneurs in scaling up their businesses. An EntrePass, when first issued will be for a duration of 1+1 years, and the foreign entrepreneur will have to demonstrate progress at the end of the first year before he/she is granted the extension for another year. Thereafter, subsequent EntrePass renewals will be valid for 2 years. With the enhancement to the validity of the pass, entrepreneurs would now feel assured of their stay thus can focus on building and growing their business further.
– Changes to the Renewal Criteria
Post changes introduced under the Enhanced EntrePass scheme, the total business spending is substantially reduced. However, it must be noted that by the sixth year in business the applicant’s company must employ at least 9 locals on a full-time basis; earlier, only 10 full-time local employees were required for applicants after five year or more. However, the headcount was a drawback for some businesses that run on lean staff model. Some startups may actually not need that many employees until they reach a certain size or milestone. It must be noted that the government has responded to this concern by introducing the PMEs category in the headcount, whereby one PME is equal to three FTE. Henceforth, the category of workers will be taken into account rather than just the numbers.
– Changes to Dependents Pass (DP) Criteria
EntrePass holders can qualify for DPs for their spouses/children upon meeting Year 2 renewal criteria. Earlier EntrePass holders were allowed to apply for DPs only after the end of first year and upon meeting the criteria of local employees and minimum business spending. The process will take an estimated 16 weeks in total.
With this, EntrePass holders can now bring their family early on and need not wait until the end of the first year. Having their family close to them would be a great comfort for some entrepreneurs who are probably going through toughest challenges during the formative years of their business. Some may feel having family close to them as a distraction though. For those who wish to have their family near them, as long as they meet the year two criteria, it is no longer a vault over the wall but just a hop over the hurdle.
– Extension of EntrePass to more partner agencies:
In addition to SPRING Singapore, the enhanced EntrePass scheme will see the inclusion of two new partner agencies, which are the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and the National Research Foundation (NRF), supported by SGInnovate. his enhancement expands the variety of sectors where the entrepreneurs could become eligible. More importantly bringing on board these additional agency partners to evaluate the applications would provide a comprehensive assessment of the applicant’s business and its value potential to the Singapore economy