Space and satellite sector one of the new clusters eyed for growth

Mr Iswaran observing how a tracking antenna, commonly used in vehicular deployment, responds to a simulated beacon signal in a demonstration by Addvalue Technologies engineer Choong Yoon Hui.
Mr Iswaran observing how a tracking antenna, commonly used in vehicular deployment, responds to a simulated beacon signal in a demonstration by Addvalue Technologies engineer Choong Yoon Hui.PHOTO: DON WONG FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Singapore's space and satellite sector is one of the new industry clusters that the Government will focus on growing, the Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) said yesterday.

Mr S. Iswaran told the media: "When you talk about space, the requirements are quite harsh given the conditions you're talking about, and also in terms of communication - you're talking about vast distances, so you need companies that have got the depth and capability to do this.

"At the same time it's also a niche area where our companies, with capabilities in adjacent areas, have been able to apply themselves, and we've also got international players who have come because of the developments they see here."

Mr Iswaran was speaking during a visit to Addvalue Technologies, a Singapore-listed communications technology company that moved into the development of satellite communications products in 2002.

The minister initiated the visit to the company, which he said has adopted technology and new business models in order to grow and respond to new opportunities.

"I think Addvalue's story is a really good example. They were in the consumer electronics space and they made a strategic decision to move into satellite communications, for land-based, sea-based and space-based applications," he said.

Singapore's space and satellite industry comprises 30 companies and employs 1,000 people, including 150 researchers.

Addvalue is now finalising a joint lab collaboration with the Agency for Science, Technology and Research's (A*Star) Institute for Infocomm Research on enhanced satellite communication technologies, such as devising ways to link Addvalue's products to smart devices.

The joint lab will start operating from the second quarter of next year.

A*Star chairman Lim Chuan Poh, who joined the visit, said: "In A*Star we do a lot of research that is aligned to industry needs. Obviously, it is not good enough that we are doing research. It is quite important for the discoveries that we have to be translated to the industry."

He said A*Star will continue to work with companies here to meet industry needs and drive economic growth, by licensing out technology, for example. "In the last five years, we had over 1,000 licences; 70 per cent went to SMEs."

Addvalue shares rose 0.1 cent or 2.7 per cent to close at 3.8 cents yesterday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 18, 2016, with the headline 'Space and satellite sector one of the new clusters eyed for growth'. Print Edition | Subscribe