The future of food, medicine, and digital technology has been marked as prime research targets to maintain Singapore’s competitiveness in the coming years. Recently, Singapore Government convened a panel discussion on the Research, Innovation and Enterprise (RIE) 2020 plan where Singapore’s Finance Minister Mr Heng Swee Keat delivered an update on Singapore’s science and technology research plan.
Mr. Heng conveyed that more than S$500 million is set-aside to shape up the artificial intelligence systems and to fulfill the nation’s cyber-security requirements. The fund will also improve Singapore’s supercomputing capabilities and the deployment of automation and robotics.
A further $144 million will be allocated towards food research to increase sustainable urban food production, and another $80 million will be contributed to the cell-therapy research in the biopharmaceutical sector.
How Singapore will benefit in terms of technology from this announcement?
The Government has clearly spent a lot of time to determine how to get Singaporean companies to invest in research that can benefit the country, and identifying areas that the industries can benefit in return.
Investment in Digital Technology
The Government believes that it is important to invest in the areas of Artificial Intelligence, Supercomputing and Robotics and hope that there will be more success stories for these industries. The S$500 million set aside will aim to increase the funding already set back in the RIE 2020 for the Digital Intelligence.
Speaking on the subject, Mervyn Cheah, Principal Advisor ,Ecosystm, says that “The Government aims to entice more Industry to invest in R&D in Singapore. PM Lee has mentioned that the industry today is investing just 1.2 to 1.4 of Singapore’s GDP in R&D in Singapore, and he wants the Industry to do more. It is a bit like playing roulette you place your bets on many numbers and hope that one of them will blossom and give you the returns and success. It is not possible that all R&D will come to fruition practically.”
Scenario for Businesses
The RIE 2020 is an initiative taken by the Singapore Government to make the nation a hub for R&D. By setting aside funds for both local industries and MNCs the government hopes that the industries will be able to invest and grow.
“There are a number of new start-ups being created as Singaporeans start to recognise that the government is putting in more R&D funding. At the same time, existing businesses will expand to take advantage of this announcement” says Cheah.
What to Expect – RIE2020
Currently, the local Industries in Singapore do not have a large appetite for investing in R&D in Singapore although there is a 50% spike from 2016 to 2018. The government’s aim is to invest in the Science, Engineering, and Biomedical fields industries, with the intent that they can increase their revenue.
Cheah says “the Government is looking at getting Multi-national Corporations (MNCs) to invest in Singapore for their R&D and believes that the industry can do better. So, the Government (National Research Foundation under the Prime Minister’s Office) is pushing the Industry to do more, and on their pro-active part, they have announced setting aside another S$700 million R&D funding to A*STAR, to the Singapore Food Agency, and other R&D agencies, with the hope that the Industries will further spend R&D in Singapore.”