Beginning with the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997, a series of external shocks buffeted the Singapore economy. But as the economy showed clear signs of turning around and as the Singapore economy recovered and grew, the Singapore government continued in making fundamental changes to restructure the Singapore economy and create a Best for Business environment.
One of the strategies adopted since October 2003 was to encourage entrepreneurship in Singapore. Besides assisting local entrepreneurs, the Singapore government sought to bring in entrepreneurial talent from outside Singapore. The intention is to find a balance between growing local entrepreneurial talent and allowing foreign entrepreneurial talent that will help Singapore grow local industries and add to the local economy.
Under the EntrePass Scheme, entrepreneurs can now set up operations in Singapore on the basis of their business plans, rather than academic qualifications or salary. The EntrePass does not require the applicant to have an employer, only a good business plan.
Presently all applicants for the EntrePass must fulfill these requirements:
- Company must be registered as a Private Limited Company with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority.
- Applicant to hold at least 30% of shares in the company.
- Company to have at least $50,000 paid-up-capital. A bank statement from a Singapore-based company bank account, of at least $50,000 is required for verification.
- Company must not be registered for more than six months at the point of application.
- The business must not be illegal or excluded.
All applicants for the EntrePass must fulfill the above requirements.
Examples of businesses that will not be considered for the EntrePass include, coffee shops, hawker centres, food courts, bars, night clubs, karaoke lounges, foot reflexology, massage parlours, acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine, herbal dispensing, employment agencies and geomancy consultation.
From 1 September 2013 and in line with MOM’s overall direction in raising the quality profile of Singapore’s foreign workforce, changes will be made to the EntrePass framework. These changes will apply to new EntrePass applications submitted from 1 September 2013. Existing EntrePass holders will be given up to one year from 1 September 2013 or the date of their next renewal, whichever is later, to meet the revised criteria.
Under the revised Criteria, the EntrePass scheme will only target businesses that are innovative, differentiated from local start-ups, and has the potential to value-add to the Singapore economy. For a business to be considered innovative, applicants have to show evidence that their businesses meet at least one of these requirements:
- Receives funding/investment from a recognised third-party Venture Capitalist (VC)/ business angel who is accredited by a Singapore government agency;
- Holds an IP that is registered with a recognised national IP institution, e.g. US Patent Office, European Patent Office, China Patent Office, Japan Patent Office, etc.;
- Has ongoing research collaboration with a recognised research institution recognised by A*STAR/ institution of higher learning, e.g. the 6 local universities and 5 polytechnics;
- Is an incubatee at a Singapore government-supported incubator.
New EntrePass applications that meet the revised criteria, will be awarded a 1 yr pass (Q type). However, there will be a mid-year audit to check on progress and applicants need to demonstrate efforts on scaling up their business.
At the renewal stage, the Ministry of Manpower will continue to assess the contributions of the EntrePass holders via economic and employment indicators. However, to ensure that the contributions of the EntrePass holders commensurate with the number of years operating in Singapore, a progressive renewal criteria framework will be introduced. This means that the renewal criteria will gradually be increased over time.
The Singapore government recognizes that a company would need to grow to a certain size to contribute meaningfully to our economy. Thus a progressive renewal framework is put in place to spur the EntrePass applicants and at the same time to ensure valuable contribution is made locally. Therefore, the enhancement in the renewal framework is to ensure that these EntrePass holder grow progressively in their startup/development phase.
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