Record $19 billion set aside for science and technology research over next five years

NUS Assistant Professor Alexander Ling, a principal investigator at the Centre for Quantum Technologies.
NUS Assistant Professor Alexander Ling, a principal investigator at the Centre for Quantum Technologies.PHOTO: NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE - A record $19 billion has been budgeted for Singapore's science and technology research for the next five years. This works out to about $4 billion annually, equivalent to around 1 per cent of the nation's gross domestic product.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong revealed this on Friday when he announced the Research, Innovation and Enterprise (RIE) 2020 plan - Singapore's sixth roadmap for research and development.

"RIE will continue to be important to secure our future," said PM Lee, who chairs the Research, Innovation and Enterprise Council. "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."

The funding, which will be spread over 2016 to 2020, will focus on four core technological domains in which Singapore has a competitive advantage or meet national needs. These four are advanced manufacturing and engineering; health and biomedical sciences; services and digital economy; and urban solutions and sustainability. 

The health and biomedical sciences sector gets the largest share of the pot with $4 billion, or 21 per cent of the overall amount. Up next is advanced manufacturing and engineering at $3.3 billion, followed by urban solutions and sustainability at $0.9 billion and services and digital economy at $0.4 billion.

Besides the four domains, funding will also be given to programmes that cut across all sectors. These include academic research, manpower, and innovation and enterprise funding, coming up to $8 billion in total. 

There will also be $2.5 billion set aside for "white space" research, up from $1.6 billion in RIE2015. This is funding dedicated to new or emerging areas of research that may arise in the next few years and is open to proposals from all agencies. 

lesterh@sph.com.sg