Singapore Launches Tech@SG Program
- In January 2020, Singapore launched the Tech@SG program, which helps local tech companies recruit highly-skilled foreign talents.
- Companies that qualify are eligible to receive up to 10 new Employment Passes (EPs), valid for two years.
- Companies must pass the eligibility criteria, such as digital or technology-based products or services as part of their core business.
- Foreign workers must also pass the eligibility criteria, which includes having a salary of SG3,600 (US$2,590).
In January 2020, Singapore’s government launched the Tech@SG program, which aims to help Singapore-based technology companies recruit highly-skilled foreign talent, and expand in the region.
The program is jointly administered by the government agencies Economic Development Board (EDB) and Enterprise Singapore (ES). The EDB executes strategies that enhance Singapore’s standing as a hub for investment and business while the ESG supports the development of the country’s small and medium enterprises.Companies that qualify for this program are eligible to receive up to 10 new Employment Passes (EPs) to hire foreign nationals, and is valid for up to two years. Further, Tech@SG will support the renewal of the EP and extend them for up to three years. Thereafter, the EP must be renewed through the process implemented by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).
The EP is mainly issued to foreign managers, executives, and skilled professionals in Singapore. Individuals must also be earning a monthly salary of SG3,600 (US$2,590) to be eligible.
What are the eligibility criteria for companies?
Companies that qualify for Tech@SG must meet the following criteria:
- Must be a company incorporated in Singapore with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA);
- Must be a company that has a digital or technology offering as part of its core business product or service;
- This includes providing hardware or software technologies, e-commerce activities, digital gaming, digital media, cybersecurity, data science, and fintech, among many others;
- Secure more than US$10 million (in cumulative) investment funding in the past 36 months; and
- Receive funding from one of the Tech@SG investment firms in the past 36 months.
List of investment firms
The Tech@SG programs recognizes three types of investment firms:
- Well-established venture capital firms with an international presence;
- Boutique venture capital firms with a track record of investing in growth companies in Asia; and
- Investment firms with links to the Singaporean government.
The recognized firms are mentioned in the table below.
What are the criteria for individual EP applicants?
Once a business has qualified for the Tech@SG program, it must ensure the foreign worker adheres to the following requirements before the EP is secured:
- The applicant is considered a ‘core team member’ in the business whose responsibilities fall under these categories;
- The applicant must be a manager-level employee and above in the company; and
- The applicant’s fixed monthly salary must be SG3,600 (US$2,590) or above.
- Core business functions, such as finance, human resources, general management, business development, business strategy; or
- Technical functions, such as software engineering, product development, data science.
What is the application process?
Prior to applying for the Tech@SG program, companies must ensure that they are incorporated with ACRA and have obtained a CorpPass account from ACRA.
Once the applicant is issued a CorpPass account, they will need to login and select and assign ‘EDB Form SG’ as the e-service the applicant will use.
Applying for Tech@SG endorsement
There are two methods of applying for Tech@SG depending on the ownership of the applicant company.If the company has less than 30 percent local shareholding, it should submit its application to the EDB. For companies with at least 30 percent or more local shareholding, the submission should be done through Startup SG, as an entity under ES.
Companies are usually told the outcome of their application within 10-15 working days.
Applying for EPs
Once a company has been endorsed under the Tech@SG program, it can submit the EP applications to the MOM.
The company must register for an Employment Pass Online (EPOL) account with the MOM. The MOM may take up to five working days to process the registration request and will advise its decision to the company within 21 working days.
Business owners should note that the EP applications must be submitted within two years of being accepted into the Tech@SG program.
Singapore as a technology hub in Asia
Through the Tech@SG program, the government hopes to facilitate the growth of local tech companies by providing access to the best global talent and business networks.
The government has set aside S$40 million (US$28.7 million) to support 5G technology in the country. This coupled with a well-developed IT infrastructure, low taxes, investment incentives, and prime location at the crossroad of Asia have attracted some of the world’s biggest tech firms like Apple, Amazon, and Facebook to set up regional headquarters in the country.
Singapore’s information and communication industry is already a vital enabler for almost every major sector from finance to manufacturing, and the government is keen to strengthen the capabilities of its tech industry in areas such as cybersecurity, e-commerce, fintech, artificial intelligence, and scale them globally.