The Singapore Government is simplifying procurement processes to encourage small and medium companies to work with it.

SMEs accounted for almost two-thirds of all ICT contracts subsequently awarded by the Government in 2017, according to the Government Technology Agency, and it expects to continue this trend in 2018.

“If you look at the procurement cycle, especially for big projects, it does take a lot of time”, GovTech said in a media briefing today. “So we have lowered the bar in terms of the administrative requirements for them to participate.”

For instance, the government’s Ideas portal allows anyone to share ideas to solve public service challenges. This allows small companies to put forward their ideas without having to register through the government procurement system.

The government is sharing problem statements and asking companies for their ideas, instead of prescribing specific solutions. This programme called InnoLeap allows companies to get involved earlier in the procurement process.

“The earlier you get involved with the government in articulating and defining these problems, you have a headstart in developing the solutions that may eventually be the kind of solutions we look for,” GovTech said.

The government pursues selected ideas through proofs of concept. GovTech in partnership with Enterprise Singapore provides funding for companies to trial their ideas. Such trials can be costly for smaller companies and the funding provides support for SMEs to take part in this procurement process.

The government also links companies up with research institutes, where they may lack the expertise to take their ideas to commercialisation on their own.

For example, through this programme, a vendor working with the Ministry of Communications and Information has been linked with a machine translation tool built by the government’s research agency, allowing the company to localise government communications with the public.

This move streamlines the government procurement process. It also seeks to help companies build capabilities, while assisting the Government in coming up with new solutions for problems.

Last year, GovTech called for $2.4 billion of ICT tenders. It has projected the value of government tech contracts to be S$2.4-2.6 billion in this financial year, GovTech announced at its annual industry briefing today.

Image by GovTech Agency, Singapore on Twitter