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Singapore Government to Invest $150 million in Space Technology

India city lights at night. Elements of this image furnished by NASA

The government will invest $150 million in research and development (R&D) of space capabilities applicable to key industrial sectors for Singapore and daily life. The investment will be made by the Office for Space Technology and Industry — which oversees the country’s space industry — and the National Research Foundation.

This investment aims to encourage local space innovation for nationally important sectors, like aviation and maritime, and also everyday applications such as Global Positioning Systems (GPS) that are crucial to ride-hailing services and parcel delivery tracking. This will help Singapore maintain its position as a research and technology hub in emerging technologies and as an emerging hub for capital, talent and intellectual property.

Given the multidisciplinary nature of space technology, I encourage local researchers working in adjacent domains such as robotics, AI, material science and even urban solutions to explore if your technologies can be applied to space applications and vice versa.

– Gan Kim Yong, Minister for Trade and Industry

Singapore will also focus on building international partnerships and continuing to nurture local space-tech firms as part of its space strategy. National space office OSTIn, which was created in 2013, has been supporting Singaporean companies in developing internationally competitive capabilities. One company, with the help of the Government, will launch a satellite into space to test a new secure communications technology that prevents third parties from stealing data transmitted over fibre optics.

OSTIn also signed an agreement with the European Space Agency last October to collaborate on space-tech applications and services in telecommunications and related fields. On Wednesday, it renewed a space-tech cooperation agreement with the French Space Agency. Such international partnerships build a pipeline for Singapore’s space-tech firms to expand into more mature space industries abroad and tap more robust international experience.

A local satellite communications company that supports maritime communications, said that Singapore firms stand to gain from such collaborations. Such international collaborations bring together the expertise of respective countries’ space technology firms and will create more opportunities for Singaporean start-ups and new companies to flourish.

The international space industry is forecast to reach US$1 trillion (S$1.3 trillion) in value by 2040. Here in Singapore, the space sector continues to stay vibrant, with more than 50 companies employing more than 1,800 professionals. These companies are critical enablers for other sectors – from aviation to maritime.

Singapore Space & Technology Ltd (SSTL), a non-government organisation that runs a space accelerator programme with Enterprise Singapore, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Wednesday to form a trade corridor with the United Kingdom. This will facilitate the partnering of Singapore and UK space start-ups for resources like investment, expertise and even to trial their products in those markets.

Most recently, in his speech at the 14th Global Space and Technology Convention, Minister Gan Kim Yong mentioned that just last November, Singapore’s Office for Space Technology and Industry (OSTIn) signed a Statement of Strategic Intent with Amazon Web Services (AWS), with the aim to accelerate space innovation in Singapore. This allows Singapore-based space businesses to tap on the diverse resources offered by AWS in the area of cloud computing for space applications.

“OSTIn is delighted to be working with AWS to support the growth of Singapore’s emerging space and technology ecosystem,” said David Tan, Executive Director at OSTIn. “Singapore’s space ecosystem is nascent but flourishing, and the collaboration with AWS will enable us to build and further strengthen capabilities within the industry, as well as our research institutions. We look forward to taking new strides forward with AWS, and pushing the frontiers of space development from Singapore.”

“Space data and cloud technology have the potential to address complex issues and transform lives. We are thrilled to collaborate with OSTIn to leverage AWS technologies, and our AWS programs and experts to help emerging space companies in Singapore to innovate, grow, and scale their solutions to help solve real-world needs,” said Mani Thiru, Head of Aerospace & Satellite, Asia Pacific & Japan, AWS. “Training and development are the core focus of the collaboration, and we will work closely with OSTIn to develop talent for Singapore’s space industry, providing startups and organisations with access to educational resources and on-demand cloud skills training. AWS is committed to support OSTIn’s mission of building a strong foundation for Singapore’s space sector growth and transformation.” 

As reported by OpenGov Asia, Singapore has developed the latest innovations in defence tech and will focus on the future of this sector. The advancement of technology will inevitably have implications for defence tech. Autonomous vehicles, drones, and sensors will play a big role in future warfare and the Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) is keeping a close eye on emerging areas such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet-of-Things (IoT), cybersecurity, and Cloud.

While DSTA can source defence systems from external organisations, engineers do more than just buy off-the-shelves and deliver them to the military. It is key that the technology it buys can be integrated into a common network. This network of interconnected technologies provides greater capabilities than what the individual systems can do alone, meeting requirements that couldn’t be achieved otherwise.

The organisation has been investing in building skills across multiple areas for years, enabling it to develop valuable services when crises like COVID-19 strike. The organisation’s recent work has not all been related to COVID-19. DSTA has been helping to boost security at Changi Airport by upgrading its ability to detect and disrupt unauthorised drones in nearby airspace.

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