The Ministry of Trade and Industry rolled out a new initiative, the Collaborative Industry Projects (CIP) scheme, in an effort to get small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to work together by pooling resources.

Councils and trade associations surveyed say the initiative for collaboration is a step in the right direction.

The CIP scheme aims to boost the productivity of a large collective of comapnies by fostering cooperation, so that its constituent members can benefit from economies of scale.

Said Teo Siong Seng, president of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, “Bringing them together means we can combine their strengths. My concern however, is the conditions that bar companies that have a turnover of more than S$100 million or companies that have more than 200 employees from participating. I hope the government can be more flexible.”

The scheme has been expanded to include other sectors such as food manufacturing, retail and textile as well as fashion, among others. The furniture industry has also been highlighted as an important sector under the scheme.

Welcomed by industry players who support the idea of collaboration and innovative productivity solutions, they believe the scheme will help boost Singapore’s share of the global furniture market. The industry’s market share currently stands at 1 per cent, or S$5.67 billion, as of 2012, according to the Singapore Furniture Industries Council.

There are hopes that the government’s SME talent programme might help provide a steadier influx of young talent into the sector. SPRING will partner trade associations to assist participating SMEs in recruiting local polytechnic and ITE students, with SPRING intending to co-fund part of the costs.