This year’s Budget, titled Emerging Stronger Together, focused on Singapore’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, and the government’s continuing support for Singaporeans, workers, and businesses.
A*STAR and EDB Harness Technology to Combat Effects of Climate Change
Urban solutions and sustainability will be a key area under the government’s Research, Innovation and Enterprise (RIE) 2025 plan as Singapore invests in research that will help to build a more sustainable and liveable environment. In his Budget speech delivered in Parliament on 16 February 2021, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat pointed to technology as a game-changer that will open new possibilities to combat the effects of climate change. For example, under the Cities of Tomorrow Research & Development programme, researchers from A*STAR and the HDB spearheaded the development of an Integrated Environmental Modeller – a tool that studies wind, solar irradiance, shading as well as environmental noise to forecast how these will affect thermal comfort for residents. Urban planners are using this modeller in the planning of the new Tengah Housing Estate.
Building Up Singapore’s Scientific Pipeline, Supporting Local Enterprises to Compete Globally
During his speech at the Committee of Supply (COS) Debate on 2 March 2021, Second Minister for Trade and Industry Dr Tan See Leng, highlighted that RIE is a cornerstone of Singapore’s national strategy to develop as an innovation-led economy.
Dr Tan said that Singapore’s biomedical sciences R&D capabilities built up over the past 20 years has enabled us to develop and manufacture the Fortitude COVID-19 diagnostic test, which has since sold more than five million units in over 45 countries.
Dr Tan added that under the RIE 2025 plan, the government will further nurture the nation’s scientific talent pipeline, by increasing A*STAR scholarships by almost 25 per cent, to encourage local undergraduates interested in taking up PhDs.
The government will also build a strong crop of local enterprises able to compete globally. It will continue to support SMEs that lack access to research talent through the Technology for Enterprise Capability Upgrading (T-Up) programme. Under T-Up, A*STAR seconds research talent to SMEs to help enhance their innovation capabilities. Since its inception in 2003, more than 900 A*STAR researchers have been seconded to over 800 SMEs.
A*STAR’s T-Up Programme seconds A*STAR scientists and research engineers to aid in local SMEs’ research and development projects for up to two years. Seconded experts boost the companies’ innovation capabilities from product development to business processes.