Here is our monthly round-up of startup related news and other noteworthy business activities in Singapore for the month of December 2015.

S$45 Million Pledged to Fund SME Employee Training Programs

The SPRING enterprise development agency, an initiative of the government of Singapore, launched a project this month to promote the training and development of staff in small to medium enterprises (SMEs). The agency has pledged a budget of S$45 million for the project, which will be called SkillsFuture Mentors. The aim is to build a network of experienced business mentors who can advise and support SMEs in setting up mentor schemes of their own (a “mentor the mentor” approach). Over the next 9 months, the first batch of 18 mentors will be assigned to eligible SMEs and will provide guidance on skills development, as well as advising on management skills for supervisors. One issue that faces SMEs is difficulty in attracting and retaining the best talent in their workforce because the business lacks experience and resources to support employees to grow and develop professionally. The mentorship scheme will provide direct, practical advice on employee development and hence help to make the SME a more attractive option for skilled workers. Over the next three years, SPRING plans to expand the scheme to support 2,000 SMEs with a pool of 400 mentors.

Singapore Business Federation Leads Five-Day Business Mission to Indonesia

A five-day business mission to Semarang and Yogyakarta, Indonesia, was announced this month and will be lead by the Singapore Business Federation (SBF), in partnership with the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, Singapore Manufacturing Federation, and Sembcorp. The delegation of 19 members from 13 business organisations within Singapore, including an industrial park developer, a food and beverage manufacturer, a furniture design company, a trader and manufacturer, and a power supply systems company, will be lead by Tay Lim Heng, Director of Group Risk Management at the Keppel Corporation. The aim is to provide networking opportunities, to encourage business co-operation between the two nations, as well as to strengthen the relationship between economic government agencies in Singapore and Indonesia. The cities to be visited in Indonesia are centers for quality educational and training institutions, hence they both have a growing pool of highly educated graduates and professionals which could benefit businesses in Singapore. Given the geographic plus cultural proximity and Singapore advantages, the city-state is an attractive place for Indonesian entrepreneurs to establish their company for international operations.

DBS To Provide S$10M for Singapore Startup Development

DBS, the leading lender in Southeast Asia, has put aside S$10 million to fund startup initiatives in Singapore over the next five years. In order to promote the startup ecosystem, DBS bank has pledged to provide support in the form of startup promotion schemes. The schemes which will receive funding are lead by the DBS HotSpot pre-accelerator scheme for very early stage startups, which provides a S$25,000 entrepreneur award, as well as providing startups with workspace and mentoring connections, in order to support the development of new business ideas. The first batch of business ideas in the DBS HotSpot scheme include startups aiming to reduce poverty in Vietnam through bike production, to allow SMEs to auction off unpaid invoices, and to get people motivated to run using a gamification system.

Sega Invests In Pay-To-Publish Service for Mobile Games Developers

Japanese games behemoth Sega has this week provided significant investment in mobile games publisher GoGame, who are based in Singapore. This signals an interest of Sega in tapping the expanding freemium mobile gaming market in Southeast Asia, through their investment in high-tech gaming companies based in Singapore. GoGame’s flagship product is a platform called goPlay for mobile developers, which makes it easier to publish, market, and support free-to-play games. GoPlay is itself based on a similar model to free-to-play, known as free-to-publish, which provides a free drag-n-drop interface for the basics of publishing games, and then developers pay for additional services like marketing, analytics, or community management. This allows small developers to focus on building their games and to get support from an experienced platform when it comes to the challenges of acquiring and supporting customers, collecting payments, or dealing with localisation issues. The skills required for successful marketing are substantially different from those required to build a good game, and many small game developers struggle with getting their product into the market. GoPlay offers these services in a menu from which developers can select the ones which they need, without having to involve large publishers like EA who can take up to 70 to 80 percent of the revenue of a game. This scheme will benefit not only mobile game developers but also strengthen the reputation of Singapore as a center of expertise on software development and support.

Rolls-Royce engine manufacturing subsidiary opens regional headquarters in Singapore

MTU, the manufacturing arm of auto giant Rolls-Royce, last month announced plans to open its regional headquarters in Singapore. The new headquarters will cover all aspects of MTU’s business functions for their manufacture of large diesel engines and propulsion systems, including application engineering, sales and support services, and distribution management. The headquarters will be located at Tukang Innovation Park, in a new 26,500 square-metre facility. The will also be a training center on site, with capacity for up to 700 people per year being trained in 90 different courses. With a workforce which consists of 90 percent employees from Singapore, moving the MTU headquarters to the region in order to consolidate resources and provide complete training is a logical choice, which also provides access to growth in the broader Asia Pacific region.