Govt sets aside record S$19b for science and tech research
SINGAPORE — Think Singapore companies, large and small, readily using new products or technology developed by university researchers here. Or, Singaporeans drinking water that has been desalinated more cheaply, and using air-conditioners that consume much less energy due to sophisticated membranes adapted by researchers here.
These are some efforts that will be given a boost in Singapore’s science and technology plan for the next five years, which will see public spending on research, innovation and enterprise increase to S$19 billion for 2016 to 2020 — 18 per cent more than the S$16.1 billion spent from 2011 to 2015.
But even as the Government sustains spending at about 1 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), it wants to see the private sector do more, by upping its spending to 1.8 times public-sector spending in the next five years, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong today (Jan 8).
In 2013, for instance, Singapore’s research and development expenditure was S$7.6 billion, of which S$4.5 billion — about 1.2 per cent of GDP — was from the private sector, according to the National Research Foundation (NRF).
At the announcement of the Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2020 (RIE2020) plan, Mr Lee stressed the importance of research and innovation in growing the economy, helping workers to thrive amidst technological changes and in making healthcare and the living environment better for Singaporeans.
Four domains have been identified in RIE2020 based on areas of competitive advantage or national needs. They are advanced manufacturing and engineering, health and biomedical sciences, services and digital economy, and urban solutions and sustainability. Each will get S$0.4 billion to S$4 billion in funds under RIE2020.
Funds will also be used to boost academic research, sustain a strong base of science and engineering talent and grow innovative enterprises. And to capture opportunities that may not be on the radar today, “white space” funds of S$2.5 billion have been set aside, an increase from S$1.6 billion in RIE2015.