Record $19 billion budgeted for science and tech research over next 5 years

Record $19 billion budgeted for science and tech research over next 5 years

SINGAPORE - The government has set aside a record $19 billion to support Singapore's science and technology research over the next five years, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced on Friday (Jan 8). The $19 billion figure represents one per cent of Singapore's GDP.

This investment is an 18 per cent increase from the previous plan's budget of $16.1 billion.

Named The Research Innovation Enterprise 2020 Plan (RIE2020), the five-year-plan aims to develop research to address national challenges, boost economic growth and increase engagement of innovation and technology in companies.

PM Lee, who chairs the Research, Innovation and Enterprise Council, said: "In the RIE2020 plan, we are making four major shifts to capture more value from our investments and research - to make research more effective and to get more results from them."

It will contribute significantly to the economy and creates opportunities and jobs, supports national initiatives like Smart Nation, SkillsFuture, studies which we are doing under the Committee for the Future Economy, and it helps our workers to thrive amidst technological changes and globalisation," he added.

The funding which will be divvied over 2016 to 2020, amounts to an annual allocation of $4 billion. The five-year-plan will focus on four core technological domains, namely advanced manufacturing and engineering, health and biomedical sciences. services and digital economy and urban solutions and sustainability.

Aside from these four focal points, around $8 billion will also be allocated to academic research, manpower and innovation and enterprise funding. Another $2.5 billion dedicated to new or emerging areas of research that may arise in the next few years.

PM Lee added that he hopes to see the private sector increase its spending on research efforts. He pointed out that the current ratio of private to public spending on R&D stands at 1:1.5.

He said: "For the next five-year plan (RIE2020), I think our target is going from 1.5 to 1.8. We hope to do better than the target but it's not just the amount they spend but whether they spend it intelligently and productively or not. And that depends on the existing companies having the right needs for research, but also depends on new companies coming in who also want to do research."

debwong@sph.com.sg

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