ACE Startup Grant Partner Applications
Why should I submit my application via a grant partner?
The partners, who are from the universities, polytechnics and private sector, could provide first-time entrepreneurs with additional resources such as incubation, funding support, and access to networks and mentors to grow their ideas into sustainable businesses.
Applicants are encouraged to approach the participating ACE Start-ups Grant Partners for advice on setting up a business and to discuss on the support provided.
In addition, applications that are supported by grant partners would be approved without going through a second evaluation by the ACE Evaluation Panel.
Who are the ACE Startups Grant Partners
The ACE Startups Grant Partners comprises of universities, polytechnics/ITEs, and industry partners.
You may find the list of their contacts here.
What are the criteria for submissions via grant partners?
All applications submitted via grant partners will have to fulfil the same eligibility criteria under ACE Start-ups.
In addition, some grant partners may impose additional eligibility conditions or take equity in start-ups, etc. Please discuss with the relevant grant partner before sending in an application.
What kind of support can I expect besides the grant money?
ACE will facilitate the matching of start-ups to an experienced mentor for a period of one year. Besides this, supported start-ups can also expect to receive invites to regular networking events organised by ACE.
How will the grant money be disbursed?
The grant will be disbursed in tranches, with the first grant advancement capped at $25,000 (or a 50% of the approved grant amount). Subsequent tranches will be disbursed upon fulfillment of the agreed project milestones.
Startups will have up to 2 years from the date of letter of offer to meet the milestones to draw down on the grant.
How do start-ups qualify for the additional $50,000 grant?
Applicants may apply upfront for a funding of up to $100,000 depending on the technology and market traction involved in starting the business.
The ACE Evaluating Panel will assess the funding quantum based on 1) capital requirements, 2) nature of business (selected sectors), AND 3) scalability and overseas market traction.
Does ACE take equity in-exchange for the grant support?
No, ACE does not take equity in the start-ups supported.
Can I still apply for other grants if I have been approved for this grant?
Applicants are not allowed to seek multiple assistances on the same project and/or cost items. Start-ups may apply for other assistance only if there are no overlaps in funding scopes.
Notably, start-ups which have received the ACE Start-ups grant are not allowed to apply for the i.JAM grant, and vice versa.
What can I use the grant money for?
The grant can be used for business development expenses such as manpower and operating expenses, purchase of equipment, software, materials and consumables, acquisition of intellectual property (IP) rights, professional services or marketing and promotion activities.
However, the grant CANNOT be used to pay off loans taken by the start-up and the founders.
My team comprises of non-Singaporeans or PRs. Do we qualify?
Your team will still qualify if the main applicant(s) holding at least 51% equity in the underlying company is a Singaporean or Singapore PR.
I have previously registered a company with ACRA. Do I qualify?
The applicant’s company should not have been registered or incorporated for more than 6 months prior to the application. For such existing entities, the applicant must hold at least 51% of the shareholding in the company. Any other ongoing businesses will not be eligible for the grant.
All other individuals who have registered business entities previously will not be eligible as the grant is only available for those who are first-time entrepreneurs.
What are my obligations as an applicant?
The main applicant(s) is expected to also commit full-time to the company and not be in any other employment from the time they accept the terms and conditions of the Letter of Offer.
In addition, the main applicant(s) has to be the key driver of the company.
If I do not qualify for the grant, what other support is available to entrepreneurs like me?
There are many forms of assistance available from various government agencies. You can refer to the listing on EnterpriseOne.
What qualifies as a ‘differentiated’ business?
By differentiation, we look at:
- How the company differentiates itself from its competition
- How different or novel the idea is compared to what is available in the market
In a differentiated business, the applicant company identifies a specific need and seeks to address it. In doing so, it is able to carve out a unique selling proposition to gain competitive advantage over competitors.
How do I register a company if I am below 21 years old?
From 1 March 2009, applicants aged 18 years old and above can incorporate a company in their name.
Applicants below 18 years old must seek parental consent before applying for the grant, and obtain a proxy for company incorporation.The proxy will have to transfer the company back to the applicant when he/she turns 18.
Do I have to register a company to receive the funds?
Upon approval and confirmation of the success of the application, you are required to incorporate a private limited company prior to receiving the funds. Sole Proprietorship/Partnerships and LLP will not be allowed.
Funding received under the grant will be for the sole purpose of subscribing for shares in the proposed company and for the company to utilise such subscription amount as working capital.
Can I register as a sole proprietorship/partnership or LLP?
Under the funding support, Sole Proprietorship/Partnerships and LLP will not be allowed.
Is there any industry focus under the Scheme?
No. The scheme is sector agnostic.
Who evaluates the applications?
Applications will be evaluated by an external panel consisting of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, business angels and incubation managers.
What do I have to prepare for the evaluation?
Applicants who are selected for the evaluation will have to make a 10 minute presentation or pitch.
How long does the evaluation process take?
The evaluation process will typically take 6-8 weeks after the closure of each call for proposals.
Can I get ACE to vet my proposal before I submit it?
The proposals are evaluated by the ACE Evaluation Panel. The ACE Secretariat is hence not in the position to comment on the proposal.
Will my business idea be kept confidential?
All submissions will be treated with the strictest confidence. Public officers are required to abide by the confidentiality clauses in their employment contract. Members of the independent evaluation panel will also abide by an undertaking of conflict of interest and confidentiality.
Can I appeal if my application is not approved?
Decisions taken on each application will be considered as final since all applications submitted would have undergone a thorough evaluation process to ensure that deserving business proposals are supported.
Unsuccessful applicants are welcomed to apply for the grant again with a revised/new business proposal.
Mentorship for Supported Start-ups
Who are the ACE mentors?
ACE mentors are established entrepreneurs, angel investors and experienced professionals familiar with the start-up landscape. They come from a variety of industries such as F&B, retail services, ICT, medical services and engineering.
Do I get to choose my mentor?
An important success factor in a mentorship is the chemistry and rapport between the mentors and start-ups.
ACE will provide opportunities for them to network, build rapport and share their thoughts. Through these events, they will get the chance to know each other better and find the best fit. Once they are comfortable with each other, they will inform the secretariat on their choice.
How long will the mentorship be for?
Mentors will provide mentorship on a pro-bono basis, for up to one year.
Can I opt out of the mentorship programme?
Yes, please notify the Secretariat if you wish to opt out. However, having a supportive mentor is one of the key factors in venture success. We strongly encourage our funded start-ups to participate in the programme.