To provide broader, more flexible support for SMEs looking to upgrade their business, the Innovation & Capability Voucher (ICV) has been enhanced as of 1 March 2014. Under the enhanced ICV, each SME may use two $5,000 vouchers (out of a total of eight vouchers) to adopt and implement simple solutions to improve business efficiency and productivity. This is on top of consultancy services across four key areas: productivity, innovation, human resource development and financial management.
1. Implement A Solution (New!)
While identifying an area for improvement is one step towards upgrading your business, implementing the solution is the critical next step. Under the enhanced ICV , SMEs can now apply for ICV to support the purchase of equipment and hardware, technical solutions, professional services as well as design and renovation. Munch Saladsmith, for example, is looking to purchase a biometric scanner to replace the punch-card system and be directly linked to its payroll system.
2. Boost Your Productivity
Whether you want to adopt a recognised standard or undergo a productivity diagnosis or service assessment, the ICV will support the engagement of approved consultants to make it happen. Skylace Language School did just his when it used the ICV to engage a consultant to assess its management and business operations and identify areas for improvement. The consultant made recommendations to improve Skylace's retention strategy, streamline its processes, and introduce better data management to enhance its competitiveness in the market.
3. Sharpen Your Innovative Advantage
Developing new processes or technologies can drive growth and give you a competitive edge in the market. The ICV can be used for consultancy services to help you turn your innovative ideas into reality and protect your intellectual property. Microwave Packaging used the ICV to engage consultants to validate the design of an innovative new machine for producing biodegradable containers. The new machine has allowed the company to increase production volumes by 10%, and improve quality and range of package selection, giving it an advantage over its competitors.
4. Improve Your HR Function
Your people are one of your key strengths. Making sure you have the right systems and policies in place to attract and retain the talent you need is critical to your success. Citikids Academy, an early education centre that was facing difficulties hiring and keeping good staff, used the ICV to engage a consultant to set up a HR system and establish policies to address its manpower issues. One of the changes included putting in place a HR scheme to hire teaching assistants for six months. During that period, the teaching assistants are given the opportunity to attend courses to prepare them for a career as a full-fledged teacher at Citikids.
5. Strengthen Your Financial Management
Having the books in order is critical to any company’s overall health and prospects for future success. For many SMEs, rapid growth can put a strain on the basic systems they have in place to manage their finances. The ICV can be used to engage consultants who will assess a company’s financial management systems and make recommendations for improvements. Dynamics Circuit, a precision equipment repair business, used the ICV to find ways to improve its cash flow and working capital management and identify an appropriate accounting software package to manage its fast-growing business.