Setting up a business is tricky – there is a lot of red tape to plough through. Multiple forms have to be submitted to different agencies, and somewhere along the process, mistakes are made, and time is wasted.

The Singapore Government realised that in order to attract entrepreneurship in the country, it had to streamline the processes to set up businesses. The Business Grants Portal was built to pull all government grants under different agencies in one place to simplify transactions for Singapore-registered businesses.

“The idea for a one-stop grant application portal was conceived following feedback that businesses are confused by the wide array of government grants available, and often do not know where to start”, the team from the Infocomm Development of Authority, IDA (now known as GovTech) explained.

GovInsider awarded the team the best adaptation award at Innovation Labs World for their flexibility to change, even though the delivery plan was switched several times due to policy changes. This is “commonplace for grants, since they are typically tweaked in response to evolving business needs”, the team stated.

The team used agile means to develop the portal, and were able to meet the expectations of the project outcome. Now, businesses need only to answer two questions – first, their industry sector; and second, their business need. Following this, they are “automatically routed to the right application form and directed to the processing agency that is in the best position to help”, it added.

The agile methodology also allowed the team to test it on their users, and include new features that were not part of the initial plan. A “Company Profile” feature allowed firms to store company information such as employment size and financial statement. This prevented businesses from submitting repeated information, it stated.

Entrepreneurs can manage all their grant applications on the portal – with information on status updates and the agency-in-charge. Once the grants are approved, details on the company profile will be filled in automatically from data sent prior to Singapore’s Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority.

Singapore was ranked the first place in the World Bank’s 2016 Ease of Doing Business report, followed by New Zealand, and Denmark.

Innovation Labs World is a festival of public service innovation organised by GovInsider. It was held on 27 September in Singapore.