The Role of R&D In Singapore's Shared Future

This year's Budget, titled “Building Our Shared Future Together” saw the first instalment of the Forward Singapore programmes being rolled out, and concrete steps taken to build Singapore's shared future together.

One of the key priorities is to ensure a strong, innovative, and vibrant economy. Singapore must sharpen its competitive edge globally, and R&D is needed to push the frontiers of innovation across our entire economy.

The Government will double down on efforts to support R&D investments, particularly in deep tech R&D for critical and novel technologies, and low carbon energy research. A*STAR is establishing new R&D translation platforms and initiatives to catalyse key sectors.

New Deep Tech R&d Translation Platforms And Initiatives

The National Semiconductor Translation and Innovation Centre (NSTIC) aims to foster ecosystem collaboration and boost R&D translation outcomes in the areas of flat optics and silicon photonics. NSTIC opens up new possibilities in enhancing the performance, efficiency and functionality of semiconductor devices. This paves the way for faster and more efficient electronic devices like smartphones and computers in the future. Companies can collaborate with NSTIC to enjoy faster product prototyping and manufacturing scale up or tap on NSTIC’s capabilities for small volume manufacturing. NSTIC is led by A*STAR in partnership with local institutes of higher learning and supported by the National Research Foundation.

Read more about NSTIC

The Nucleic Acid Therapeutics Initiative (NATi) aims to build Singapore into a regional hub for nucleic acid therapeutics (NAT) research, clinical translation, and commercialisation. NATi harnesses the potential of nucleic acids like messenger RNA (mRNA) and small interfering RNA (siRNA) to treat diseases using RNA molecules. This includes personalised cancer treatments, vaccines and therapeutics. Through NATi, Singapore will accelerate the development of RNA drugs and vaccines, and grow our RNA manufacturing capabilities. Companies can tap on the national initiative to address clinical and industrial challenges using the technologies from its key thrusts of NAT Exchange (NAT X) and the RNA Foundry. NATi is hosted by A*STAR.

Read more about NATi

MedTech Catapult aims to build a go-to medical device product development infrastructural platform in Singapore. This initiative will accelerate speed to market through design, development, verification, and validation of high-value MedTech products for companies in Singapore. Through MedTech Catapult, Singapore is positioning itself for the next wave of emerging smart and sustainable life science tools and medical devices, supporting the growth of an innovation-driven economy and a robust MedTech ecosystem. MedTech Catapult welcomes companies, agencies and institutions with an innovative MedTech concept to reach out for collaboration. MedTech Catapult is hosted by A*STAR.

Read more about MedTech Catapult

The National Robotics Programme (NRP) will focus on stepping up the translation of Singapore’s robotics capabilities in sectors such as manufacturing and logistics, facilities management and healthcare. It will do this through “RoboClusters”, bringing together public sector researchers, end-users and robotics companies, to foster collaborations and co-development of solutions with economic potential. NRP will also help accelerate the growth of promising Singapore-based robotics SMEs and startups. Local companies involved in developing robotics solutions in the manufacturing, logistics, facilities management and healthcare sectors are welcome to join the RoboCluster initiative.

Read more about NRP’s new initiatives

Tapping Ai To Transform Whole Sectors Like Manufacturing

To reap significant value creation from artificial intelligence (AI), Singapore will set up sectoral AI Centres of Excellence (CoEs) to address sector-wide use cases and build capabilities with domain expertise. As a start, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) and A*STAR have jointly developed an AI Centre of Excellence (CoE) for the manufacturing sector, which will be launched by the end of 2024 and will span over three years. The CoE will convene stakeholders from the manufacturing sector across industry, research, and the startup ecosystem, to develop AI-enabled solutions that address sector-wide use cases.

By working with the CoE to co-develop solutions, companies in Singapore can create higher value products, customise AI solutions which can be scaled on the production floor, and accelerate the transformation of their operations, processes and business activities through AI adoption.

Read more about the AI CoE for the Manufacturing Sector

Advancing Low-carbon Energy Research

The Low-Carbon Energy Research (LCER) Programme supports research, development and demonstration projects to advance low-carbon technologies, and to enable decarbonisation of the power and industry sectors. Under Phase 2 of the LCER Programme, the Directed Hydrogen Programme (DHP) and the Emerging Technology Grant Call (ETGC) were launched in late 2023. Following rigorous evaluation of the proposals received, $55 million has been awarded to support six DHP projects and 10 ETGC projects. LCER is funded by the National Research Foundation (NRF) and hosted by A*STAR.

Read more about the LCER projects awarded.

The above mentioned platforms and initiatives were announced at the Committee of Supply debate 2024.