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Emerging Enterprise 2014 kicks off with S$1.5 million worth of prizes and new award category for startups

· Inaugural Most Promising Startup Award recognises young startups with annual turnover of less than S$1 million and below 3 years old 
· OCBC Bank introduces new Mentorship Consulting Prize worth S$150,000 
· New Award partner, INSEAD, offers S$30,000 worth of open enrolment package

Singapore, 12 March 2014 - Singapore Press Holdings' (SPH) financial daily, The Business Times, and OCBC Bank launched the annual Emerging Enterprise 2014 Award (EE 2014) yesterday. The launch, held at the SPH News Centre Auditorium, was attended by about 300 emerging enterprise owners.

Into its seventh year, EE2014 remains Singapore's only annual entrepreneurial award that reaches out to emerging enterprises with annual sales turnover of less than S$15 million per annum. It was incepted in 2008 with the aim of recognising promising emerging enterprises that are outstanding in their respective fields, and to provide these deserving businesses with the needed tools and resources to build on their capabilities for further growth. 

Today, there are about 170,000 SMEs1 in Singapore. They make up about 99% of the total enterprise population in Singapore. Out of the total number of SMEs in the manufacturing and services sector, approximately 4 percent2 has a yearly turnover of more than S$15 million in 2011. The remaining 96% consists of mainly start-ups or emerging businesses.

This year, EE 2014 returns with an improved prize package which aims to provide critical support to our emerging businesses as they transform themselves to keep up with Singapore’s transition into a productivity-led and quality-driven economy. Up to three winners will receive S$440,000 each in prizes, comprising professional and consultancy services, executive educational programmes and support in capability development offered by the EE 2014 partners.

The inaugural Most Promising Startup Award will accord recognition to young businesses who are below 3 years old and with turnover of less than $1 million per annum. This is the first award that celebrates and honours the achievements of this group of promising but under-recognised businesses. One winner stands to walk away with the Most Promising Startup title and trophy.

The most notable change being made to the prize package this year would be the replacement of the interest-free loan with a S$150,000 Mentorship Consulting Prize. Sponsored by OCBC Bank, the Mentorship Consulting Prize provides our winners with the resources to engage advisors or consultants for their business needs.

Leading international graduate business school, INSEAD, has also joined the EE2014 panel of partners. It will be offering each of the winners a chance to return to school with an Open Enrolment Programme package worth $30,000.

Innovation partner SingTel will present up to two winners with the Best Innovation Award - which it has been sponsoring since 2010 - to recognise outstanding SMEs for their spirit of innovation and originality in business concepts. Each winner will receive up to S$45,000 worth of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) business solutions package.

Besides INSEAD and SingTel, EE 2014 is supported by MasterCard, Acorn Marketing and Research Consultants, SPRING Singapore and RSM Chio Lim, which is also the official auditor of EE 2014. The prizes sponsored by these partners include: 

· S$20,000 credit in the OCBC Business Debit Card and a MasterCard Priceless Travel Package worth S$30,000, totalling S$50,000 per winner

· Strategic Brand & Product Development Research Package from Acorn Marketing & Research Consultants worth S$30,000 per winner 

· Capability development programme from SPRING Singapore

· Consulting Package for Growing Businesses from RSM Chio Lim worth S$30,000 per winner 

Starting from today till 2 May 2014, emerging enterprises that meet the qualifying criteria can register for the award and submit their business plans. For more information on Emerging Enterprise 2014, visit

Please refer to Appendix 1 for more details on EE 2014 and its qualifying and judging criteria.

As a co-presenter and media partner, The Business Times will profile the companies that make it as the Top 15 finalists. 

Mr Alvin Tay, Editor of The Business Times, said: "It is always exciting to see new and innovative business ideas from our SMEs, which play a vital role in Singapore's economic growth. With the introduction of a new category - Most Promising Startup Award - we hope more young companies with strong growth potential will step forward to present their ideas."

With a long tradition of supporting the homegrown enterprises, OCBC Bank is one of the first banks to focus on serving the needs of the emerging businesses. The Bank is proud to return as the co-organiser of EE2014 for the seventh year running.

Mr Eric Ong, Head of Emerging Business, OCBC Bank, said: “As our SMEs undergo business transformation amidst Singapore’s move into a productivity-driven economy, the Emerging Enterprise Award has also kept pace with the evolving business demands. This year, we are introducing the Most Promising Startup Award to honour the finest within businesses who have been in operation for less than 3 years, and a Mentorship Consulting Prize in place of the $150,000 interest-free loan for the winners.

“Newly established businesses will need help in adapting to the challenges of the ongoing transformation, and we hope the recognition that comes with the Award will open doors for them in terms of new business partners, overseas markets and potential equity sponsors. The Mentorship Consulting Prize, on the other hand, plugs a critical gap for emerging businesses who are in need of sound mentorship and advice from experienced industry mentors
 and consultants, that may be a catalyst for their business growth. With the needed resources and know-how in place, we are confident these deserving businesses will continue to push boundaries and take their businesses to new heights.”

Recognising the increasingly complex needs of SMEs, OCBC Bank has now offered up to three Mentorship Consulting Prizes which will help the winning SMEs defray the costs of seeking professional guidance on growing their businesses.

Mr Gan Kok Kim, Head of Global Investment Banking, OCBC Bank, said: “Any company that aims to succeed and thrive in the marketplace has to constantly reinvent itself. SMEs in particular, have to challenge themselves to break new ground, differentiate themselves from the competition, or explore ways to improve productivity. It is with this in mind that we have chosen to refine the way we support SMEs this year through our Mentorship Consulting Prizes, incentivising them to obtain professional advice on business development, operational enhancements or market expansion. It is our hope that this will spur these companies to embrace change in their pursuit of excellence.” 

Other than the organisers, The Emerging Enterprise Awards is made possible with support from like-minded partners, including MasterCard, Acorn Marketing and Research Consultants, INSEAD, SPRING Singapore, SingTel and RSM Chio Lim, which is also the Official Auditor of EE 2014. Here is what our partners have to say:

Ms Julienne Loh, General Manager, Singapore, MasterCard, said: “It is increasingly important for SMEs to achieve greater productivity in order to remain competitive in our global marketplace. At MasterCard, we are continually introducing new products and solutions to increase the efficiency of payment processing for SMEs, because we believe that innovation is key to staying ahead of the competition. And that is also the spirit of this year’s theme, ‘Evolve to Excel’. We are pleased to be back for the second year of the Emerging Enterprise Award, celebrating excellence in entrepreneurship."

Mr Danny Lai, Country Business Manager, Singapore, Acorn Marketing and Research Consultants, said: "Acorn is pleased and proud to be a partner for the EE awards. Over the past 6 years, we have seen the Emerging Enterprise Awards evolve to become the leading platform for recognising the success and potential of SME businesses with less than $10 million turnover. We are excited that EE2014 will be expanding the awards to recognise successful and highly potential start-ups as well".

Mr Paul Kewene-Hite, Affiliate Professor of Entrepreneurship at INSEAD, said: “The Singapore government’s recent budget announcement includes plans to further increase funding schemes that support Small and Medium Enterprise (SME); this new budget acknowledges the economic significance of SME as a vital growth-oriented innovation sector in Singapore. Executive Education at INSEAD is investing in Singapore’s SMEs by being the education partner in the Emerging Enterprise 2014 Award. The INSEAD sponsored prize will invite leaders from three winning companies to participate in an open programme. INSEAD is committed to Singapore’s SMEs, and this award will empower promising SME leadership to learn vital academic principles and to cultivate key new skills for globally competitive business.”

Ms Chew Mok Lee, Assistant Chief Executive, Capabilities & Partnership, SPRING Singapore, said: "The Emerging Enterprise Award continues to see strong participation from promising enterprises in diverse industries. These enterprises have done well in navigating challenging economic conditions, and their stories will serve to inspire those looking to become future industry leaders. SPRING will continue to champion enterprise development and to support capability upgrading and innovation in these enterprises; so they will be in a stronger position to capture new opportunities and achieve greater growth.”

Mr Titus Yong, Vice President, Business Sales, SingTel Group Enterprise, said: “As the cornerstone of Singapore’s economy, it is crucial that SMEs are given the means to transform themselves into potential world-beaters. This calls for concerted efforts to help them overcome the productivity hurdle, innovate and harness ICT to realise their fullest potential. By equipping and guiding the ‘Best Innovation Award’ winner with our suite of ICT solutions, SingTel is demonstrating our capability to empower Singapore SMEs, from small start-ups to local companies expanding into the region, to evolve and excel in their respective fields.”

Mr Kaka Singh, Chairman, RSM Chio Lim LLP, said: "Doing business today is both exciting and petrifying at the same time. SMEs enter the race and suddenly find themselves matched side-by-side against international industry veterans. Capturing the imagination of consumers compels SMEs to evolve rapidly while maintaining a firm grasp of the changing industry landscapes. SMEs no longer compete only with competitors' products and services but also find themselves challenged to improve on their past successes. RSM Chio Lim, now in our seventh year as the official auditor, is honoured to be once again part of this journey that will stimulate entrepreneurship and encourage the SMEs to stay relevant and excel.”


1 SMEs, as defined by SPRING, refer to enterprises with annual sales turnover of not more than $100 million or employing no more than 200 staff.

2Estimated by SPRING using data from DOB and EDB.

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About The Business Times

The Business Times (BT), a member of the Singapore Press Holdings group, is South-east Asia's leading financial daily. BT brings its readers daily corporate, financial, economic and political news, analysis and commentary. Singapore and Asian news and trends are emphasised, but global developments are also covered in depth since Singapore's business interests are international. BT's lifestyle desk brings busy executives the latest in recreation, entertainment, the arts, design, food and shopping.

About OCBC Bank

OCBC Bank is the longest established Singapore bank, formed in 1932 from the merger of three local banks, the oldest of which was founded in 1912. It is now the second largest financial services group in Southeast Asia by assets and one of the world’s most highly-rated banks, with an Aa1 rating from Moody’s. It was ranked by Bloomberg Markets as the world’s strongest bank in 2011 and 2012.

OCBC Bank and its subsidiaries offer a broad array of specialist financial and wealth management services, ranging from consumer, corporate, investment, private and transaction banking to treasury, insurance, asset management and stockbroking services.

OCBC Bank’s key markets are Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Greater China. It has a network of over 450 branches and representative offices in 17 countries and territories, including more than 330 branches and offices in Indonesia that are operated by its subsidiary, Bank OCBC NISP. 

OCBC Bank's insurance subsidiary, Great Eastern Holdings, is the largest insurance group in Singapore and Malaysia by assets. Its asset management subsidiary, Lion Global Investors, is one of the largest private sector asset management companies in Southeast Asia. Private banking services are provided by subsidiary Bank of Singapore, which continued to gain industry recognition including being voted “Outstanding Private Bank in Asia Pacific” in 2013 by Private Banker International. 

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