SPRING Singapore

by Wee, Jane

SPRING (Standards, Productivity and Innovation Board) Singapore, a statutory board under the Ministry of Trade and Industry, was established with the aim of helping Singapore enterprises grow as well as to build trust in Singapore products and services.1 The agency focused on three areas for small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) and the domestic sector: productivity and innovation; standards and quality; and development programmes.

On 1 April 2018, SPRING merged with International Enterprise (IE) Singapore to form Enterprise Singapore.2 Consequently, a number of initiatives that were run by SPRING came to be administered by Enterprise Singapore.

The Singapore Productivity and Standards Board (PSB) was formed in April 1996 with the merger of the National Productivity Board (NPB), the Singapore Institute of Standards and Industrial Research (SISIR) and the SME development function of the Economic Development Board (EDB). The merger aimed to bring together the soft skills of productivity (which were NPB’s focus) and the technical aspects handled by SISIR.3

In April 2002, PSB was renamed SPRING Singapore to signify the shift towards an innovation-driven economy, as well as to highlight its new role in promoting creativity and raising the productivity of the domestic sector to sustain growth for Singaporeans.4

Roles and responsibilities

Having been the national body responsible for enhancing the competitiveness of enterprises for a vibrant Singapore economy,SPRING was a leading body in the following areas.

Productivity movement
The national productivity movement was inaugurated in 1981 together with the launch of Work Improvement Teams in the civil service.It is an annual productivity campaign that promotes the productivity message.7 The initial thrust of the campaign was to equip Singaporeans as they moved from labour-intensive activities to more technology-and skill-intensive work. Subsequently, the campaign shifted its focus to innovation and quality work, with the last reported productivity campaign being run in 2002.8

National Skills Recognition System (NSRS)
The NSRS was launched on 5 September 2000 to provide a national framework of job skills competencies. PSB was appointed the programme manager for this system. NSRS provides industry-recognised certification which is attainable by workers with few or no formal education.9 NSRS covered certification in areas such as domestic housekeeping, security and conservancy, and often serves as basic courses before employees are allowed to practice or be deployed.10 With the launch of the Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) System under the Workforce Development Agency in 200511 and the development of industry-based WSQ certification, NSRS was gradually phased out.12

Business Excellence Certifications and Business Excellence Awards
SPRING’s Business Excellence (BE) framework aimed to drive change and help SMEs professionalise their management practices.  A 2014 BE impact study found that there was a 19.2 percent growth in profits of SMEs certified to have met BE standards, compared to an industry average of 6.1 percent.13

Through BE certification schemes, organisations were recognised for having attained a commendable level of performance standards leading to business excellence. Examples of such schemes include Singapore Quality Class, Singapore Innovation Class, Singapore Service Class and People Developer Standard.14

Awards, such as the Singapore Quality Award, People Excellence Award and Innovation Excellence Award, aim to recognise organisations and individuals for their excellent performance.15 These were continued by Enterprise Singapore.

Singapore Accreditation Council
Formed in 1996 and managed under the aegis of SPRING Singapore, this council provides an internationally recognised accreditation and registration service to help ensure high levels of professional practice among Conformity Assessment Bodies.16

Financial assistance schemes
Schemes such as the Local Enterprise Finance Scheme, Micro Loan Programme, Capability Development Grant and Innovation & Capability Voucher, help local enterprises upgrade and improve their productivity.17 In addition, schemes such as the SME Talent Programme help to promote talent development within SMEs, while defraying costs incurred by SMEs for sponsoring and hiring Singaporean students as interns.18

Consumer product safety protection

The Singapore Consumer Protection (Safety Requirements) Registration Scheme is mandatory for all consumer products designated as controlled goods, such as home electrical, electronic and gas appliances.19 Additionally, the Consumer Protection (Consumer Goods Safety Requirements) Regulations ensure the safety of general consumer products like toys, apparels, furniture and do-it-yourself tools. These products must be registered and bear the SAFETY mark before they can be sold in Singapore.20

Weights and Measures Programme
SPRING was also the custodian of Singapore’s reference standards for weighing and measuring instruments for trade use. As part of the Weights and Measures Programme, SPRING ensured that a uniform and accurate system of weights and measures was used in Singapore as well as protected consumers and traders by regulating the use of weighing and measuring instruments used for the sale and trade of food, fuel and other commodities.21

Singapore Standards (SS)
In 2001, PSB released the Singapore Standardisation Strategy 2001, setting the directions for the national standardisation programme. This programme aims to develop appropriate sector-wide standards for products and services to improve productivity, quality, market access, safety, health and environmental conditions in Singapore.22

In 2002, SPRING Singapore developed standards to meet industry needs or policy objectives of government agencies, working closely with the Singapore Standards Council and other Standards organisations. SPRING facilitated consensus-building during standards development, inviting public comments on draft standards before publication. It also provided a collection of Standards, References and other resources for standard development processes.23

Since 2006,24 SPRING has held an annual Quality & Standards Conference, where invited companies and organisations discuss the adoption and implementation of standards to ensure the production of quality goods and services in various sectors. Accreditation and training is also discussed, and major initiatives were announced and launched at these conferences.25

Human Capital Movement
SPRING launched the Human Capital Movement in SMEs in 2015 in an effort to develop strong HR capabilities and talent management within Singapore companies.26 This provided diagnostic tools, capability toolkits, mentoring programmes and grants which help SMEs focus on and build human capital.

Startup Enterprise Development Scheme (SEEDS) Capital
Set up in 2001, SPRING SEEDS Capital was a subsidiary and the investment arm of SPRING, co-investing with independent investors to groom and catalyse Singapore-based start-ups.27 By 2009, it had helped raise $25 million for 27 companies.28 SEEDS Capital is not a sector-specific fund, having made investments across sectors such as clean technology, advanced manufacturing,29 medical technology,30 and deep technology.31 Since April 2018, Enterprise Singapore continues to run SEEDS Capital, focusing on nascent and strategic industries while also looking at emerging technologies.32

SME Centres
Since 2013, a network of SME Centres were progressively set-up island-wide in Community Development Councils and community clubs. These centres provide SMEs with diagnosis and advisory services, workshops and group-based upgrading projects, supporting SMEs in the business upgrading journey.33 As of 2019, 13 SME Centres have been set-up in Singapore.34

International Participation
SPRING was a founding member of the Global Excellence Model (GEM) Council, which comprises member countries such as Australia, Europe, Japan, India and the US.

SPRING was also appointed by the Asian Productivity Organization (APO) to act as a Centre of Excellence for Business Excellence in 2009, and has facilitated annual Business Excellence training workshops for delegates from 20 APO member countries to develop their own Business Excellence initiative and awards programmes.35

Enterprise Singapore, which was formed through the merger of SPRING Singapore and International Enterprise (IE) Singapore on 1 April 2018, became the single touchpoint and agency championing the growth of Singapore companies of all sizes, ranging from start-ups to large companies.36

While SPRING had focused on SMEs, and IE Singapore had concentrated on internationalisation efforts, Enterprise Singapore “adopt[ed] an enterprise-centric approach, providing differentiated programmes and support according to a company’s stage of development”.37

After the merger, Enterprise Singapore administered many initiatives that were previously run by SPRING, such as the Business Excellence Certifications and Business Excellence Awards, SEEDS Capital, Quality & Standards Conference, Singapore Accreditation Council, Singapore Standards (SS), Singapore Consumer Protection (Safety Requirements) Registration Scheme, the Consumer Protection (Consumer Goods Safety Requirements) Regulations, and SME centres.38


Jane Wee & Kevin Seet

1. SPRING Singapore. (2013, April 28) About Us. Retrieved from Web Archive Singapore: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/webarchives/2013-04-28%2000:33:37.000/wp/details/http://www.spring.gov.sg/AboutUs/Pages/SPRING-Singapore.aspx; Choong, W., & Wilcox, S. (2002, January 26) More buzz when it’s SPRING S’poreThe Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
 Heng, J. (2018, February 6). IE and SPRING merger timely, given global changes: Iswaran. The Business Times. Retrieved from The Business Times website: https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/ie-and-spring-merger-timely-given-global-changes-iswaran
 Productivity and Standards Board to be set up by April 1. (1995, December 6). The Straits Times, p. 26. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
What’s in a name change? A new mission. (2002, May 17). The Straits Times, p. 36; Boey, D. (2002, January 26). TDB, PSB to get new names, functionsThe Business Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
Singapore Government Directory. (2016, April 8). Ministries. Retrieved 2019, April 30 from Web Archive Singapore: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/webarchives/2016-09-22%2007:38:26.000/wp/details/http://www.gov.sg/sgdi/ministries/
 Themes. (1991, November 1). The New Paper, p. 24; Improving civil servants’ team work. (1981, December 11). The Business Times, p. 3; Wee, E. (1981, July 15). Team that plays together will work better together... The Straits Times, p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
 Lee, U-W. (2005, July 30). Work or life? See-saw, SingaporeToday, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
Peh, S. H. (2005, July 30). Time to revisit Teamy the Bee? The Straits Times, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
Lee, B. Y. (2000, September 5). Address by Dr Lee Boon Yang, Minister for Manpower, at the Launch of the National Skills Recognition System on Tuesday, 5 September 2000, 9.30 am at Suntec City Ballrooms 2 & 3. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: https://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/ 
10. Gan, K. Y. (2006, November 3). Speech by Mr Gan Kim Yong, Minister of State for Education and Manpower, At The Opening of Singapore Learning Festival Roadshow on Friday, November 2006, 4pm, At Toa Payoh HDB Hub. Retrieved 2019, May 2 from SkillsFuture Singapore Agency website: https://www.ssg-wsg.gov.sg/speeches/03_Nov_2006.html; Ng, E. H. (2003, September 05). Speech by Dr Ng Eng Hen, Acting Minister for Manpower and Minister of State for Education at the launch of the Domestic Cleaning Reskilling for Employment (Domesti CARE) Programme and the official opening of the Academy of Domestic Services. Retrieved 2019, May 2 from SkillsFuture Singapore Agency website: https://www.ssg-wsg.gov.sg/speeches/05_Sep_2003.html; Ng, E. H. (2005, January 31). Speech by Dr Ng Eng Hen, Minister For Manpower and Second Minister For Education, at the WDA Conservancy Job Redesign Pledge Signing Ceremony. Retrieved 2019, May 2 from SkillsFuture Singapore Agency website: https://www.ssg-wsg.gov.sg/speeches/31_Jan_2005.html
Ng, E. H. (2005, October 27). Speech by Dr Ng Eng Hen, Minister for Manpower and 2nd Minister for Defence, at the Opening Ceremony of the Singapore Learning Festival and Launch of the Singapore Workskills Qualification System. Retrieved 2019, May 2 from SkillsFuture Singapore Agency website: https://www.ssg-wsg.gov.sg/speeches/27_Oct_2005.html
Workforce Development Agency (2006, November 11). Inaugural Green Thumbs Landscape Contest Winners & Launch of Workforce Skills Qualification (WSQ) For The Landscape Industry. Retrieved 2019, May 2 from SkillsFuture Singapore Agency website: https://www.ssg-wsg.gov.sg/new-and-announcements/2006/11_Nov_2006.html; Workforce Development Agency (2007, July 24). Security Officers are frontline in fight against terrorism. Retrieved 2019, May 1 from SkillsFuture Singapore Agency website: https://www.ssg-wsg.gov.sg/news-and-announcements/2007/24_Jul_2007.html; Workforce Development Agency (2010, July 21). Concerted Efforts to Uplift the Cleaning Industry. Retrieved 2019, May 2 from SkillsFuture Singapore Agency website: https://www.ssg-wsg.gov.sg/new-and-announcements/2010/21_Jul_2010.html
SPRING Singapore. (2015, October 15). SMEs get boost from BE initiativeThe Business Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
SPRING Singapore. (2014). Business Excellence. Retrieved from Web Archive Singapore: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/webarchives/2015-07-04%2020:54:43.000/wp/details/http://www.spring.gov.sg/Building-Trust/Business-Excellence/Pages/business-excellence-overview.aspx
SPRING Singapore. (2014). Business Excellence. Retrieved from Web Archive Singapore: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/webarchives/2015-07-04%2020:54:43.000/wp/details/http://www.spring.gov.sg/Building-Trust/Business-Excellence/Pages/business-excellence-overview.aspx
SPRING Singapore. (2014). Accreditation. Retrieved from Web Archive Singapore: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/webarchives/2015-07-04%2020:54:43.000/wp/details/http://www.spring.gov.sg/Building-Trust/Accreditation/Pages/accreditation-overview.aspx
Ministry of Finance. (2009). Annex B: stimulating bank lending. Retrieved from Gov.sg website: https://www.singaporebudget.gov.sg/budget_2009/speech_pd/annexb.pdf; Chay, F. (2013, February 20). SPRING extends help to more SMEs in 2012. The Business Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Chua, J., Lee, C., & Lee, Z.W. (n.d.). Impact evaluation of SPRING’s Capability Development Grant Scheme. Retrieved from Ministry of Trade and Industry Singapore website: https://www.mti.gov.sg/-/media/MTI/Legislation/Public-Consultations/2015/Impact-Evaluation-of-SPRINGs-Capability-Development-Grant-Scheme/fa_3q15.pdf
Page 35 Advertisements Column 1. (2014, February 17). Today, p. 35; Chia, Y. M. (2013, March 12). SMEs get help to boost talent as they restructure. The Straits Times. p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
SPRING Singapore. (2014). Consumer Product Safety and Weights and Measures. Retrieved from Web Archives Singapore: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/webarchives/2015-07-04%2020:54:43.000/wp/details/https://www.spring.gov.sg/Building-Trust/Raising-Confidence/Pages/raising-confidence-overview.aspx; SPRING Singapore. (2015, February 1). About the CPS Scheme. Retrieved from Web Archive Singapore: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/webarchives/2015-07-04%2020:54:43.000/wp/details/https://www.spring.gov.sg/Building-Trust/Raising-Confidence/Consumer-Product-Safety/CPS-Scheme/Pages/cps-scheme.aspx
SPRING Singapore. (2016, May 9). About the CGSR Regulations. Retrieved from Web Archive Singapore: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/webarchives/2015-07-04%2020:54:43.000/wp/details/https://www.spring.gov.sg/Building-Trust/Raising-Confidence/Consumer-Product-Safety/CGSR-Regulations/Pages/cgsr-regulations.aspx
SPRING Singapore. (2016, Dec 27). Weights and Measures Programme. Retrieved from Web Archive Singapore: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/webarchives/2015-07-04%2020:54:43.000/wp/details/https://www.spring.gov.sg/Building-Trust/Raising-Confidence/Weights-Measures-Programme/Pages/weights-measures-programme-overview.aspx
 Competing in the new economy. (2001, October 17).  The Straits Times. p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
SPRING Singapore. (2014). Standards. Retrieved from Web Archives Singapore: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/webarchives/2015-07-04%2020:54:43.000/wp/details/https://www.spring.gov.sg/Building-Trust/Std/Pages/standards-overview.aspx
 Celebrate Four Decades of Standards Conformance Success. (2006, September 25). Today. p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
Lee, Y.S. (2010, August 23) Speech by Mr Lee Yi Shyan, Minister of State for Trade and Industry and Manpower, at the Quality and Standards 2010 Conference, 23 August 2010, 2:15 PM at Grand Hyatt Hotel; Lee, Y.S. (2011, June 29) Speech by Mr Lee Yi Shyan, Minister of State, Ministry of Trade and Industry and Ministry of National Development, at the Quality and Standards 2011 Conference, 29 June 2011, 9:00 AM at Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel, Singapore; SPRING Singapore. (2014, August 5). SPRING Singapore Sets Aside $10 million to Accelerate Quality and Standards Development. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: https://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/
26. Tan, M. (2015, July 31). SPRING launches Human Capital Movement, shines spotlight on SMEs’ HR capabilities. The Business Times. p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
SPRING Singapore. (2015, June 12). SPRING Startup Enterprise Development Scheme (SPRING SEEDS). Retrieved from Web Archives Singapore: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/webarchives/2015-07-04%2020:47:48.000/wp/details/http://www.spring.gov.sg/Nurturing-Startups/SEEDS/Pages/spring-start-up-enterprise-development-scheme.aspx
28. Chen, H. (2010, April 1). Spring start-up scheme draws keener interest. The Business Times. p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
Cheok, J. (2015, June 11). Wanted – accelerators to help cleantech startups. The Business Times. p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
 $40m fund to liven medtech scene. (2011, June 1).  The Business Times. p. 11.; Chng, G. (2014, September 25). $60 million investment to boost medical tech start-upsThe Straits Times. p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
Cheok, J. (2017, July 15). With S$100m to fund tech startups, Spring looks for co-investors. The Business Times. Retrieved from The Business Times website: https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/technology/with-s100m-to-fund-tech-startups-spring-looks-for-co-investors
Enterprise Singapore. (2018). SEEDS Capital. Retrieved 2019, May 1 from Enterprise Singapore website: https://www.enterprisesg.gov.sg/financial-assistance/investments/investments/seeds-capital/overview
Chia, Y. M. (2013, September 20). New centre for SMEs to get govt assistance. The Straits Times. p. 19. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Enterprise Singapore. (2018, May 16). SME Centres’ Group-based Upgrading initiative to help SMEs solve common business challenges and adopt technology gain traction with 22 projects a year. Retrieved 2019, May 2 from Enterprise Singapore website: http://www.enterprisesg.gov.sg/media-centre/media-releases/2018/may/sme-centre-group-based-upgrading-initiative
Enterprise Singapore. (2019). SME Centres. Retrieved 2019, May 2 from SME Portal website: http://www.smeportal.sg/content/smeportal/en/resources/sme-centres.html
SPRING strengthens its international networks. (2015, October 15). The Business Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
Enterprise Singapore. (2018, April 2). Enterprise Singapore formed to grow stronger companies. Retrieved 2019, April 30 from Enterprise Singapore website: https://www.enterprisesg.gov.sg/media-centre/media-releases/2018/april/enterprise-singapore-formed-to-grow-stronger-companies
Iswaran, S. (2018, April 2). Speech by Minister S Iswaran at the official launch of Enterprise Singapore. Retrieved May 7, 2019 from Enterprise Singapore website: https://www.mti.gov.sg/Newsroom/Speeches/2018/04/Speech-by-Minister-Iswaran-at-the-official-launch-of-Enterprise-Singapore
Enterprise Singapore. (2020, March 23). Business Excellence. Retrieved from Enterprise Singapore website: https://www.enterprisesg.gov.sg/quality-standards/business-excellence; Enterprise Singapore. (2019, July 8). SEEDS Capital. Retrieved from Enterprise Singapore website: https://www.enterprisesg.gov.sg/financial-assistance/investments/investments/seeds-capital/overview; Chan, C.S. (2018, July 26). Speech by Minister Chan Chun Sing at the Quality and Standards Conference. Retrieved from Enterprise Singapore website: https://www.enterprisesg.gov.sg/media-centre/speeches/2018/july/speech-by-minister-chan-chun-sing-at-the-quality-and-standards-conference; Enterprise Singapore. (2018, November 29). Accreditation schemes. Retrieved from Enterprise Singapore website: https://www.enterprisesg.gov.sg/quality-standards/accreditation/for-conformity-assessment-bodies/copy-of-accreditation-schemes; Enterprise Singapore. (2020, January 10). Standards committees and partners. Retrieved from SME Portal website: https://www.smeportal.sg/content/smeportal/en/bizguides/quality-and-standards/2015/standards-committees---partners_g.html; Enterprise Singapore. (2020, January 20). Singapore Consumer Protection (Safety Requirements) Registration Scheme. Retrieved from Enterprise Singapore website: https://www.enterprisesg.gov.sg/quality-standards/consumer-protection/for-suppliers/regulations-and-guidelines-for-suppliers/regulations-and-guidelines-for-suppliers/consumer-protection-safety-requirements-regulations; Enterprise Singapore. (2020). SME Centres. Retrieved from SME Portal website: https://www.smeportal.sg/content/smeportal/en/resources/sme-centres.html

Further resource
Woon, K. C. (2017). 50 Years of Singapore’s Productivity Drive. Singapore: World Scientific.
(Call no.: RSING 338.45095957 WOO)


The information in this article is valid as at March 2020 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

Business enterprises
Executive departments--Singapore
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