Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Investment in R&D has paid off: PM Lee

It has created new jobs, bettered lives and renewed industries, he says
By Wong Siew Ying, The Straits Times, 20 Oct 2015

Much investment has been put into research and development (R&D) over the years and the payoff has been significant in terms of creating new jobs, renewing of industries and in improving lives, a point made by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong last night.

Mr Lee also noted that the country's small size has brought a major benefit, allowing firms, research institutes and government agencies to easily collaborate and start new ventures together.

The numbers cited by the PM last night show how R&D has borne fruit. He noted that the number of start-ups has rocketed from 24,000 in 2005 to 55,000 last year while the ranks of research scientists and engineers working here increased sixfold to 32,000 over 25 years.



The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) has also undertaken more than 7,400 industry projects that have catalysed more than $1 billion in industry R&D investment, added Mr Lee, who was speaking at the official opening of the $450 million Fusionopolis Two at one-north's R&D hub at Buona Vista.

A*Star is re-locating four research institutes at Fusionopolis Two and in close proximity to the Institute for Infocomm Research (I2R) and Institute of High Performance Computing at Fusionopolis One.

Mr Lee noted that the co-location of the two institutes at Fusionopolis One has achieved good success.

"Through co-location, they have enhanced their capabilities and found more application for their research; this integration has catalysed many industry projects," he added, citing collaborations with companies like Singtel, DBS Bank, Rolls-Royce, Lloyd's and Fujitsu.

Having the four A*Star institutes - Data Storage Institute, Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology, Institute of Materials Research and Engineering, and Institute of Microelectronics - at Fusionopolis Two will help "marshal and integrate all the capabilities needed to support the future of manufacturing in Singapore".

Manufacturing, a key pillar of the economy, is being transformed by digital technologies, greater automation and new methods of manufacturing , Mr Lee noted.

Having research institutes located in close proximity will also enable Singapore to build and integrate capabilities in areas such as materials science, chemistry, and computational modelling, to support multinational corporations and the smaller enterprises.

Mr Lee cited the new $150 million Joint Lab between Applied Materials and A*Star on semiconductor research announced yesterday.

Mr Lee also noted how R&D is improving the daily lives of Singaporeans, such as the work being done on reducing urban heat or the Smart Nation programme that will apply technology in transport, healthcare and education.

One innovation was on display last night when Mr Lee interacted with a robot named Olivia, an enhanced version of the robot he met when he opened Fusionopolis One seven years ago. Olivia, which was developed by A*Star's I2R, can interact with people, understand commands and analyse the characteristics of the person it is dealing with.



For all the progress made, Mr Lee also urged enterprises and institutions to stay hungry and bold in order to make this R&D and innovation hub a success, noting that "we need ideas, initiative and a strong network of enterprises and institutions driven by the spirit of research and entrepreneurship".



The PM later took a 10-minute drive around one-north in a self-driving car developed by A*Star. Such vehicles could help Singaporeans by taking them to bus interchanges or MRT stations, helping to ease road congestion.




Research and development has become important to Singapore. It helps our industries make new breakthroughs, and improves...
Posted by Lee Hsien Loong on Monday, October 19, 2015





Fusionopolis Two
Creating opportunities for scientists to 'collide'
New $450m R&D complex in Buona Vista will house four A*Star research institutes
By Wong Siew Ying, The Straits Times, 20 Oct 2015

It was a chance meeting that led Dr Loh Xian Jun to make progress on a biomaterials project he was working on.

He developed a new drug-delivery system but was trying to figure out which drug would be best suited for his project.

The answer came unexpectedly at a symposium last year, when he was introduced to experts at the Singapore Immunology Network, which led to a joint project on the delivery of a dengue vaccine.

"You need a lot of collaboration in the area of biological experiments. The project is still ongoing and it shows how important this accidental spontaneous discussion is, as it can actually lead to new leads," said Dr Loh, a senior scientist at the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (Imre).

This spontaneous collaboration is what the chairman of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research, Mr Lim Chuan Poh, is hoping for with the opening of the new Fusionopolis Two building yesterday.

The latest $450 million addition to the research and development hub at Buona Vista is made up of three new towers - named Synthesis, Innovis and Kinesis - which will house four A*Star research institutes. They are Imre, the Data Storage Institute, the Institute of Microelectronics and the Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology.

With the new building, 16 of A*Star's 18 science and engineering research institutes will be housed in one location in both the Fusionopolis and the nearby Biopolis campuses at one-north, a vision which has been 14 years in the making.

More than 35,000 people currently work in one-north, in 250 companies, research institutes, global and corporate universities, and public agencies.

The move to house its major talent in one area is a necessity, given that Singapore has limited land resources, said Mr Lim.

But it will also create new ways for scientists to collaborate and develop solutions that would not otherwise be possible.

By being close to one another, scientists of different disciplines will "collide" or discuss their projects, which could then yield new possibilities.

"The more we create and facilitate their ability to collide, the more we will see their ideas come together and fuse and open up new spaces for discovery and for innovation," said Mr Lim.

"The constraint of Singapore, our physical smallness that obliged us to intensify the co-location of people, has turned out to be a huge advantage when it comes to research and innovation."

A*Star's efforts have also paid off for the economy, said Mr Lim.

From April 2011 to June 2015, A*Star undertook about 7,500 industry projects which sparked off more than $1.13 billion in industry R&D investments in Singapore.

Mr Lim was also bullish on the prospects of the industry.

There are many other areas of growth for the R&D industry here, including cell therapy, data systems, advanced manufacturing and "how deep understanding of biology is going to shape engineering".

The possibilities "are just infinite", said Mr Lim.

JTC, the developer of one-north, said Fusionopolis Two will strengthen the R&D hub's position as a destination for research, innovation and enterprise.

It will "generate more knowledge-based and value-creating jobs for Singaporeans in the future", said JTC chief executive officer Png Cheong Boon.




Fusionopolis Two, the latest addition to one-north, an R&D hub and icon of Singapore’s knowledge economy masterplanned...
Posted by Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) on Monday, October 19, 2015



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