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Singapore SMBs can now run Microsoft Copilot at a discount

The limited-time offer is part of a government-funded subsidy and partnership to drive the adoption of generative AI applications.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor
Microsoft Copilot logo in magnifying glass
Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Small and midsize businesses (SMBs) in Singapore can now run Copilot for Microsoft 365 for half the price, as the country rolls out initiatives to drive the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) among local organizations. 

Under the program, government agency Enterprise Singapore (EnterpriseSG) will absorb 50% of licensing costs for the Microsoft generative AI (GenAI) tool over a 12-month subscription period. Each SMB will be able to purchase up to 50 licenses at the subsidized rate, with EnterpriseSG targeting to fund more than 1,000 small businesses through the scheme. 

Also: How Microsoft's new AI Copilot features could transform teamwork and projects

Copilot for Microsoft 365 is currently priced at $30 per user per month under an annual $360 subscription fee. 

SMBs will have until November 20 to sign up for the program and need to meet certain criteria: They must have no more than 200 employees and must be locally registered companies with operations in Singapore. 

The SMB program also encompasses training workshops customized to guide SMBs in their Copilot deployment for productivity gains. The businesses can further leverage AI Singapore's series of training schemes and workshops to learn about other AI applications.

In addition, EnterpriseSG will further assist SMBs that are ready for "more sophisticated AI integration" or need tailored AI applications, rather than off-the-shelf offerings.

The government agency has introduced an "applied AI" program, in which Institutes of Higher Learning will work with SMBs to establish AI problem statements and build customized AI applications. The aim is to help these businesses identify specific pain points and develop AI strategies and implementation roadmaps.

Here, EnterpriseSG will provide a 50% subsidy to offset some of the associated costs for SMBs looking to develop and deploy these tailored AI tools. 

Also: Microsoft releases upgrades to Azure AI Speech at Build 2024

The scheme will start next month in partnership with Nanyang Polytechnic and Singapore Polytechnic, both of which participants can tap for their technical expertise and industry experience in AI, according to EnterpriseSG. The agency aims to facilitate more than 100 SMBs in the program and hopes to progressively rope in more institutes of higher learning. 

The initiatives are part of Singapore's efforts to help local companies access AI applications and develop related capabilities so they can improve operational efficiencies and drive business growth, Singapore's deputy prime minister and minister for trade and industry Gan Kim Yong said during Tuesday's announcement.

EnterpriseSG and Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) earlier this year launched a GenAI sandbox touted to provide SMBs with "ready to use" tools in customer engagement, marketing, and sales, including chatbots and content generation tools. Since its launch, more than 140 SMBs have incorporated these applications into their operations, EnterpriseSG said. 

Also: Every Copilot+ PC Microsoft just announced to take on Apple's M3 MacBooks

IMDA on Tuesday also announced an expanded collaboration with Microsoft to help organizations that are further along their digital journey to identify use cases and deploy their own customized GenAI applications. 

Parked under IMDA's GenAI x Digital Leaders scheme, the initiative is aimed at larger and more digitally mature businesses keen to build up their in-house digital capabilities and tap GenAI to enhance productivity.

The government agency will work with Microsoft to run workshops that help these organizations better understand GenAI and identify use cases. EnterpriseSG will conduct these workshops over the next two years and encompass one-on-one guidance on prototyping and scoping of customized GenAI use cases.

The program aims to reach at least 200 enterprises, with participating companies offered access to Microsoft's partner network and GenAI tools, including Azure OpenAI and Copilot.

Also: You can make big money from AI - but only if people trust your data

In March, Microsoft said it was working with SkillsFuture Singapore to arm 2,000 SMBs over three years with the knowledge to tap AI tools. The software vendor also unveiled plans to train up to 100,000 National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) members with fundamental AI skills and work with the Institute for Adult Learning to integrate AI into the education curriculum, with plans to jointly develop and test AI tools and methodologies to enhance the learning experience. 

"For most companies [and] most SMBs, you don't need to know how to code, how to deploy code, and how to use AI solutions. You just want to use apps without all the fuss," Tan Kiat How, a senior minister of state, said in a statement.

Singapore hopes to address this through partnerships with industry players and initiatives, such as SME Go Digital, Tan said at a luncheon hosted by IMDA and Microsoft. The SMB program includes a list of pre-approved digital tools, 20% of which currently are AI-enabled, he said, adding that the aim is to eventually have all solutions on the list be AI-enabled.

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