January 24, 2021

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Singapore Government Commits Investment to Research, Innovation and Enterprise

Mr Heng Swee Keat, Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the National Research Foundation, announced at the launch of the Research, Innovation and Enterprise (RIE) 2025 Plan that the Singapore Government will sustain investments in RIE activities at about 1% of GDP, or S$25B, for 2021 – 2025.

This was endorsed at the 12th meeting of the Research, Innovation and Enterprise Council (RIEC), chaired by Prime Minister Mr Lee Hsien Loong and comprising Cabinet Ministers and international leaders in science, technology and enterprise.

The RIEC noted that sustained investments in RIE over the past 30 years have significantly contributed to Singapore’s progress and development as a nation.

The DPM explained that Singapore’s “universities, research institutes and academic medical centres are well-regarded internationally for scientific excellence. There is growing vibrancy in innovation and enterprise, with more enterprises partnering public research institutions to generate innovative products, services and solutions. Research and development have also been critical in meeting Singapore’s national needs and overcoming challenges, including the recent response to COVID-19.

The RIE2025 plan will build on the progress of previous RIE investments. It reflects the Government’s continued commitment to investing in R&D in a sustained manner, through economic cycles. This will grow capabilities that will support Singapore’s long-term economic, social and security needs.

The scope of the four RIE domains will be expanded to include new areas of strategic importance:

  • Manufacturing, Trade and Connectivity, which will expand beyond the manufacturing sectors to raise capabilities in the trade and connectivity sectors – e.g. aviation, sea transport, logistics and wholesale trade.
  • Human Health and Potential, which will expand to include Human Potential, with focus on enhancing development during pregnancy and early childhood, augmenting learning outcomes, and fostering healthy and meaningful longevity.
  • Urban Solutions and Sustainability, which will address new challenges in sustainability and resilience, including climate change, decarbonisation, healthy cities, and transformation of our built environment.
  • Smart Nation and Digital Economy, which will develop capabilities to prepare our people for opportunities in the digital space and transform our enterprises. We will also further our strengths in strategic technologies to enhance our resilience and anchor Singapore’s position as a trusted digital innovation hub.

The emphasis on talent has been core to the progress in RIE. The government will continue to build a robust base of research scientists and engineers, with strong links to the global community, to support the best ground-up ideas.

The NRF Fellowship and Investigatorship schemes will support both promising young scientists and established experts to pursue groundbreaking research in Singapore. In addition, the Returning Singapore Scientist Scheme will continue to attract overseas-based Singaporean research leaders home to contribute to Singapore’s pursuit of scientific excellence.

Scale-up Innovation and Enterprise platforms to drive technology translation, and accelerate enterprise innovation

I&E platforms have been effective in supporting industries to translate R&D into new products, services and solutions for the market. For example, the Diagnostics Development Hub at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research accelerated the development and regulatory approval of novel diagnostics solutions for global market adoption, such as the Resolute series test-kits for COVID-19.

The National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Cluster has also engaged over 1,800 organisations, and catalysed over 230 projects, to accelerate additive manufacturing applications across many industry sectors, including aerospace, maritime and logistics.

These platforms will complement other initiatives, such as technology consortia and corporate laboratories, to increase the base of enterprises engaging in RIE, and strengthen their innovation capabilities. The aim is to forge stronger connections with global innovation hubs, such as through the Global Innovation Alliance, to strengthen the access of our enterprises to key technology solutions, talent and demand markets.

To build up the pool of local inventors and entrepreneurs with both technology and business development expertise, the government are also launching the I&E Fellowship Programme (IFP). 11 partners have been engaged for the IFP pilot – this includes SGInnovate, which has launched the Power X (Robotics) programme to train individuals for in-demand robotics engineering and technology translation roles.

Mr Heng Swee Keat said that “Our sustained investment in RIE will be the springboard for our enterprises, people and community to emerge stronger together in a COVID world and a changing global economy. We must harness S&T to strengthen the competitiveness and resilience of our industries, create good jobs and new opportunities for Singaporeans, and enhance Singapore’s liveability and sustainability to improve the lives of our people. RIE will continue to drive our development as a knowledge-based, innovation-driven economy and society, and anchor Singapore as a Global-Asia node of technology, innovation and enterprise.”

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