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Design Business Centre

The DesignSingapore Council (Dsg) is developing a Design Business Centre to serve designers and design firms.

The National Design Centre (NDC) will reach its five-year mark in 2019. As part of this milestone, Dsg has undertaken a review of the use of spaces at NDC to enrich its programming.

To strengthen NDC’s offerings and its role in the ecosystem, Dsg will develop a Design Business Centre where designers and enterprises can meet to obtain information relating to the design ecosystem in Singapore and internationally, as well as business support and government assistance.

As a front-facing office, it will also be a space for the public to access information about design, designers and success stories. Crucially, it will also serve as a physical space to build networks and collaborative partnerships.

The Design Business Centre will promote the value of design to enterprises and help designers run their businesses more expediently. The centre may also provide shared services to reduce operational costs for designers.

To this end, the Dsg is launching a Call for Proposal for industry partners to run the Design Business Centre.

Seed funding will be provided for the appointed operator of the Design Business Centre. The space allocated for the Design Business Centre will also be offered to the operator rent-free for three years. The appointed operator will have to build a sustainable business in view of operating the Design Business Centre in the long run. It can also be a collective proposal or in partnership with other enterprise-promotion entities.

The appointed operator will have access to the shared meeting rooms and training rooms within the National Design Centre for running programmes with the design community. The appointed operator is expected to work closely with Dsg, representing the council to interface with the larger design community in terms of enquiries.

 

TO APPLY 
Interested applicants must download and read through the Design Business Centre Call for Proposal Information Kit
for detailed information, the application process and the relevant forms.

The open call is from Wednesday, 3 April 2019 to Friday, 3 May 2019. An optional briefing session was held on Friday, 26 April. If you would like to read the slides presented during the briefing, you may download them here.

The successful applicant will be informed by the end of May 2019.

CONTACT

Gayathri Santhosham

Assistant Manager, Industry Development Office
Email: [email protected]
Tel: 6962 2037

Lie Ming Chang

Assistant Manager, Industry Development Office
Email: [email protected]
Tel: 6962 2047

FAQs

1. How did Dsg determine that there’s a need for such a Business Centre?
Design firms play an important role in providing services and solutions to help clients address opportunities and challenges in the marketplace, or to improve operations. However, the majority of design firms in Singapore are micro-SMEs and face issues in scaling up their businesses .

In consultation with the industry, the Design Masterplan Committee in 2016 also recommended setting up a Business Centre to provide access to shared services for design firms, as well as interim workspaces and networks in priority markets, in order to help firms expand locally and overseas.

Through ongoing industry engagement sessions and a demand poll conducted in Februrary 2019 on the need for the Centre, Dsg learned that design firms are looking for added advantages and better ways to operate their businesses locally and regionally. More than 100 respondents across various design disciplines indicated that there is indeed a need for a business centre, in both physical and digital platforms.

As such, Dsg assessed that setting up a Design Business Centre will help design firms operate more expediently and build networks and collaborative partnerships to grow their business locally and internationally.

2. Why is there a need for a physical business centre?
The Design Masterplan Committee recommended forming both a physical and digital clustering of related design practitioners, craftsmen, suppliers and support service providers to foster collaboration and generate synergies. For the business centre, physical proximity and active community-building can foster collaboration and co-creation opportunities, which the digital platform can complement. As such, the appointed operator is expected to conduct community engagement activities that complement the services provided at the Design Business centre. Applicants may also consider assessing and proposing a balanced mix of both physical and digital platforms in their submission.

3. How much seed funding will Dsg provide for the first three years?
The rental for the studio allocated for the Design Business Centre will be waived for a period of three years. In addition, a start-up fund of $250,000.00 will be provided to run the operations of the Design Business Centre in the first year, which includes fit-out costs. Co-funding of up to 50% will be provided for the second and third year to run the Design Business Centre. However, the level of support will be dependent on the proposal and Dsg’s assessment of the first and second year of operations.

4. How will Dsg assess the success of the Design Business Centre? Are the KPIs for three years?
The Design Business Centre’s objectives are:
i) To help designers and design firms to operate expediently;
ii) To build networks and collaborative partnership to grow the design sector locally and internationally; and
iii) To promote the value of design and access to designers in Singapore by other enterprises.

Dsg will track the Design Business Centre’s performance and measure expected outcomes through the following proposed performance indicators, which are to be agreed with the appointed operator for a period of three years, but are not limited to:

i) Number of activities organised for the design community
ii) Number of designers and businesses participating in the activities
iii) Number of designers or design firms using the Design Business Centre’s services
iv) Number of successful collaborations between designers and enterprises
v) Number of stakeholder partners in the centre’s network
vi) Number of featured stories in the media
vii) Feedback from participants and beneficiaries of the Design Business Centre’s services

The applicant may also propose other measurable performance indicators that they deem relevant.
The appointed operator is required to submit a quarterly report to update on key performance indicators and targets, as agreed upon their appointment. These include but are not limited to the number of designers and enterprises using the shared services, their feedback, learning points and success cases. At the end of each calendar year, the operator will also submit a collated report including feedback, learning points, and success stories.

5. Is the Design Business Centre a department under DesignSingapore Pte Ltd?
The Design Business Centre is not a department under the DesignSingapore Council Pte Ltd. It will be managed by a third-party operator, appointed through this open call.

6. When does Dsg want the Business Centre to be up and running by?
The intent is for the Design Business Centre to be operational by September 2019.

7. For add-on shared services, are we allowed to offer marketing/branding services as part of our revenue generators (at a lowered market rate)?
The applicant may propose providing shared services such as legal services, management of Intellectual Property, Public Relations and Marketing/Branding etc. as a part of their revenue generating activities.

8. Is the size for the Design Business Centre fixed?
The Design Business Centre will be located at a furnished office unit (#02-01) at the National Design Centre, which is approximately 116 sqm. Spaces managed by National Design Centre, which includes meeting rooms, training rooms, gallery spaces and the auditorium etc. will also be extended to the appointed operator for training, exhibitions and events. However, these spaces are subject to availability and Dsg’s approval, and are not solely exclusive for the use by the appointed operator.

9. Is it a necessity to have a front help desk?
A reception area is required to provide frontline services to welcome and engage visitors and facilitate enquires, including walks-in. However, you may propose an alternative way of engaging walk-in visitors.

10. Are the community engagement projects limited to the design community/general public or all sorts of communities?
The engagement activities should be centred on design and should appeal to the design community. This includes disciplines such as, but which are not limited to, Architecture, Fashion, Product, Industrial Design, Landscape, Interior and Experience or Service Design. The outreach of these programmes should extend beyond the design community which may include the general public and other businesses.

11. Can Dsg share some statistical data such as basic GDP indicators e.g. distribution by sector, and historical data by sector from 2014 to 2018, as well as activities organised by Dsg?
Dsg does not have full records of this data. However, close to 90 percent of the design firms in Singapore are micro-SMEs that lack resources and enough business experience to expand internationally . These design firms require support in this area and they are the target audience of the Design Business Centre.

Please visit our website (www.designsingapore.org) for information on activities organised by the DesignSingapore Council.

12. Besides funding, what other support will Dsg provide the appointed vendor?
Usage of the spaces managed by the National Design Centre, which includes meeting rooms, training rooms, gallery spaces and auditorium etc. will also be extended to the appointed operator at no additional cost. However, these spaces are subject to availability and Dsg’s approval and are not solely exclusive for the use by the appointed operator. That being said, the appointed operator is expected to develop a sustainable business in view of operating the Design Business Centre as a profitable operation in the long term.

The DesignSingapore Council will also conduct a detailed on-boarding training for the appointed operator to understand the nuances of the Singapore design sector, including sectoral data, programmes, incentives etc.

13. What happens if the appointed operator does not meet the KPIs? And is there a penalty for not doing so?
Dsg will track the Design Business Centre’s performance and measure expected outcomes through performance indicators which are to be agreed by the appointed operator. The appointed operator is also required to collate a report at the end of each year which includes feedback, learning points and success stories. All feedback and learning points shall be taken into consideration by Dsg in determining whether the appointed operator has achieved the agreed KPIs.

Dsg will review the appointed operator’s performance on a yearly basis to determine the level of support for the following year and how the contract would be renewed at the end year of the third year, or not.

14. Does the waiver of rental costs include the waiver of utilities during the Design Business Centre’s operational hours?
The waiver of rental costs includes the waiver of air-conditioning costs (12 hours per day), electricity and basic cleaning services for the unit. The details, dates and times of the basic cleaning services to be provided will be determined by Dsg at its sole discretion and will be stated in the contract.

15. Will the rental be waived beyond the first three years?
The applicant’s proposal should include a business model detailing possible viable revenue streams over a period of three years. The appointed operator must build a sustainable business model, in view of operating the Design Business Centre beyond three years, and take into consideration that rental may be chargeable after the first three years. The tenancy agreement will be 2+1 year agreement, in line with Dsg’s master tenancy agreement with the Singapore Land Authority.

16. Are the funding caps negotiable? Currently, the funding covers 30% of costs in retrofitting the space provided and 50% of outreach activities/management costs/secretariat functions. For example, are we allowed to propose for full coverage in retrofitting the space while maintaining the 50% cap on the other costs?
A higher funding cap has been placed on the other components of the funding as the focus of the Design Business Centre should be on its content, rather than the physical fit-out.

However, if the applicant proposes a model that warrants a higher funding cap for retrofitting costs, DesignSingapore Council may take the proposal into consideration, and review the funding allocation.

17. Will there be an upfront payment made to the appointed operator?
As stated in the open call document, there are a total of seven milestone payments over three years, which are pegged to deliverables proposed and agreed to by the appointed operator. The milestone payments are as follows:

S/N

Milestones

% Disbursement of Total Funding

1

Milestone 1

Upon setting up of the Design Business Centre

20% of Year 1 Funding Support

2

Milestone 2

Upon receiving a satisfactory report at mid-point of the first year

Up to the next 30% of Year 1 Funding Support

3

Milestone 3

Upon receiving a satisfactory report at the end of the first year

Balance or remaining 50% of Year 1 Funding Support

4

Milestone 4
Upon receiving a satisfactory report at mid-point of the second year

Up to 50% of Year 2 Funding Support

5

Milestone 5
Upon receiving a satisfactory report at the end of the second year

Balance or remaining 50% of Year 2 Funding Support

6

Milestone 6
Upon receiving a satisfactory report at mid-point of the third year

Up to 50% of Year 3 Funding Support

7

Milestone 7
Upon receiving a satisfactory report at the end of the third year

Balance or remaining of 50% of Year 3 Funding Support