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Singapore government launching an enhanced IP framework to connect publicly-funded R&D to enterprises

Photo credit: SWITCH Singapore

The Singapore government is launching an enhanced IP framework, the National IP Protocol to encourage public agencies to work closely with enterprises, who can develop publicly-funded R&D into products and services that create economic and social value for Singapore. The announcement was made by Mr. Heng Swee Keat (above), Minister for Finance, at the opening of Singapore Week of Innovation & Technology (SWITCH)– Founding A New World on September 18, 2017, organised by SGInnovate. He noted that to enable technology transfer on a macro scale, strong connectivity will be required across the worlds of ventures and start-ups, and those of research, academia, hackers and developers, corporations and so on.

The IP Protocol will grant public agencies the flexibility to grant exclusive licences, non-exclusive licences, and even assign IP to industry – with the end-goal of facilitating commercialisation.

Mr. Heng said that the government will also continue building the government’s community of IP experts skilled in taking publicly-funded innovations to market.

These efforts are expected to enhance the innovative capacity of Singaporean companies, and create more opportunities for public-private partnerships, including research spin-outs, joint labs with industry and industry-academic consortia.

Public sector research institutes are already working more closely with companies to translate research outcomes into solutions that can be readily adopted for use. The National Research Foundation (NRF) awarded grants to 9 public-private cybersecurity research projects. These research projects will explore such cutting-edge applications as deep learning anti-malware solutions, e-logistics on the Blockchain and privacy-preserving technology for data platforms. 

Each project is driven by an industry lead in partnership with a public research performer. If the cybersecurity researchers arrive at new findings, industry leads, from cybersecurity startups like Attila Cybertech to IT giants like Kaspersky, will stand ready to develop them into game-changing solutions.

“With the National IP Protocol and other such measures, we will continue to create a fertile environment for such alliances of industrial acumen and public research expertise, to help enterprises and entrepreneurs bring technologies to market as quickly as possible,” Mr. Heng said.

Stimulating smart capital

The NRF and Temasek (a state-owned holding company that can be characterized as a national wealth fund) are working on new commercial entities to build and invest in deep tech startups arising from research and development conducted in Singapore. This will complement other government support schemes for start-ups by connecting technical and academic innovators to smart capital.

The objective here is to overcome the challenge of successful commercialisation of deeply technical innovations that are complex to arrive at, have longer times to market, often require substantial follow-on investment, extensive technological expertise and industrial partnerships. So, so-called ‘smart capital’ is required to bring hard science innovations to market.

Mr. Heng said, “While large corporations have the means to develop intellectual property, fledgling start-ups and research spinouts require more help. In particular, very early-stage deep tech start-up teams require extensive support to navigate a costly development process and go-to-market strategy.”

It is hoped that more technopreneurs will be able to build and scale impactful solutions from breakthroughs achieved in research, with access to the expertise and networks offered by these commercial entities.

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