Mr Lim Chuan Poh, Chairman A*STAR,
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. I am pleased to join you this afternoon for A*STAR’s GET-Up 2012 event. Every year at this event, I get to learn of new and inspiring stories of innovation among our many local technology-intensive enterprises. To me, it is an annual affirmation that with the right form of partnership in innovation, our SMEs can attain greater efficiency, higher productivity, and enhanced competitiveness.
2. As Singapore strives for greater productivity-driven growth, R&D will play an important role in boosting productivity. GET-Up is part of a broader national effort to drive productivity gains in all segments of our economy, including the SMEs. SMEs constitute a significant portion of our manufacturing sector. Collectively, they are key contributors to our GDP and they play an important role in our vibrant and diversified corporate landscape. Therefore, improving the efficiency and competitiveness of SMEs will, in turn, significantly contribute to Singapore’s overall economic growth.
T-Up Excellence Awards
3. As members of the industry, many of you here today will be able to relate to the challenges faced by many SMEs in adopting technology or leveraging R&D for growth. With fewer resources at their disposal, SMEs often have difficulties in attracting and retaining top talent. This is why GET-Up schemes such as T-Up, which support some of our SMEs’ technological, manpower and infrastructure needs, have proven to be so effective. In particular, T-Up has been extremely successful in helping companies upgrade their R & D capabilities through the secondment of research scientists and engineers, which has enabled them to become more productive, adaptable and competitive.
4. For instance, a high-potential start-up, D-SIMLAB Technologies, had a terrific idea, but had limited manpower to help them take their idea from concept to market. In 2006, they applied for T-Up assistance, and two researchers from the Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology, Dr Chong Chin Soon and Chan Lai Peng, were seconded to D-SIMLAB for two years. With their combined expertise in optimisation and simulation, they worked to develop D-SIMSPAIR, the first prototype of the company’s flagship software for the aviation industry. The software was well-received by major industry players and helped to jump start this young company.
5. Another local SME that has benefited from T-Up is SETSCO services. It faced an uncertain future after many of its customers from the disk drive industry moved their assembly operations out of Singapore. The company needed a new growth model. Through the GET-Up Scheme which identified microelectronics as a potential growth area for SETSCO, Dr Alastair Trigg from the Institute of Microelectronics was attached to the company to help it move into this sector. He trained SETSCO’s staff and expanded the company’s capabilities to include advanced testing services for the microelectronics industry. Today, SETSCO has become a one-stop shop for testing services, in particular, for the microelectronics industry. It successfully reduced its dependency on the data storage industry while raising its value proposition to the wider electronics sector. As a result, it also achieved a 50 per cent increase in revenue in this area of business.
6. Resin & Pigment, an SME that manufactures customised polymers for industrial applications, saw the need to leverage on R&D to meet the technical requirements of a major contract it secured from a multinational corporation. Sandy Ho, seconded from the Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology, assisted the company to meet all of the MNC’s stringent test qualification requirements, and effectively plugged knowledge gaps in the company’s capabilities. T-Up led to the expansion in the range of materials and services, and enabled the company to achieve more business growth by addressing regional markets like China and India.
7. It is heartening to know that these companies are all doing very well today, after getting assistance from the T-Up programme and the researchers who were seconded to them. The T-Up Excellence Awards are, therefore, important - for they serve to inspire more of such public-private collaborative efforts by recognising outstanding researchers for their exceptional contributions to R&D and our local enterprises. The winners of the awards exemplify the quality of research talent we have in our public sector research institutes, and they are a strong endorsement of the efficacy of the GET-Up programme. These researchers, and others like them, have made a real difference to our industries and I am pleased to present the awards to them later this afternoon.
Increasing support for the Biomedical Sciences SMEs
8. T-Up is just one of the many schemes under the broader GET-Up Programme. Since 2003, the GET-Up scheme has helped more than 370 local companies leverage on a broad spectrum of science and engineering R&D capabilities that were developed over the years.
9. I am pleased to announce that GET-Up will be expanded to support the biomedical sciences cluster. Over the past 10 years, A*STAR has built up a strong suite of biomedical capabilities, from basic to translational research. SMEs can now tap on these capabilities with research scientists from A*STAR’s biomedical research institutes coming on board the T-Up scheme. I have been told that at least ten biomedical SMEs have already expressed interest in participating in the programme.
10. Curiox Biosystems is one example. Curiox is a bioinstrumentation company that develops and commercialises bioassays. With the expertise of Dr Emilie Bard Chapeau seconded from A*STAR’s Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, Curiox hopes to optimise its technology for a range of new assays that will open up new and exciting markets for the company. I wish Curiox success and hope that more life sciences company will follow suit, and seek to benefit from A*STAR’s rich pool of biomedical researchers and scientists.
R&D Critical to Singapore’s Growth
11. By expanding the GET-Up scheme and making our R&D talent accessible to a larger pool of SMEs, we are enabling more SMEs innovate and thereby enhance their productivity and competitiveness. This will equip our local enterprises with capability to respond better to challenges and opportunities that arise in the global marketplace.
12. Singapore today is in a unique position to capitalise on the broad scope of our R&D capabilities and the sound knowledge enterprise we have built up over the past two decades. As we move further towards a knowledge-based economy, the strength of our local enterprises, and by extension, our economy, is increasingly linked to our ability to leverage R&D and innovation for growth. Constant research and innovation enable firms to boost their capabilities, extend their international reach, and capture emerging opportunities in new markets. And for Singaporeans, R&D can sustain growth in our economy and create higher value-added jobs. It is, therefore, an important mission that can yield significant all round benefits. And I look forward to the continued active collaboration between industries and our research institutes. Thank you.