SINGAPORE - Local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will be receiving more support for research and development, said Minister of Finance Lawrence Wong.
The support will come through increasing the capacity of technology, innovation and enterprise centres in polytechnics and Institutes of Technical Education (ITEs) to collaborate with SMEs.
Raising the capacity of this network of 80 centres will allow them to tie up with more SMEs to undertake industry projects, leading to more innovation for firms.
These collaborations are "win-win", said the minister, because students from these institutes of higher learning can benefit by getting specialised hands-on experience while working at these companies.
Such benefits were gleaned in the collaboration between Nanyang Polytechnic's (NYP) Automation and Robotics Innovation Centre and Sanwa-Intec, an SME that services the automotive industry.
The partnership, which is still going strong today, led to the creation of robotic and automation solutions as well as internships for NYP students.
One product that came out of this tie-up was the creation of a robotic arm to automate a part of the manufacturing process.
One part of Sanwa-Intec's business operations involves the manufacturing of plastic holders for electronics through moulding hot plastic.
Previously, an operator would have had to manually operate one moulding machine and bear the risk of handling the hot finished products for quality control.
Now, with the robotic arm that can emulate an operator's handling of raw materials and finished products, one operator can manage several robotic arms while reducing risk of injury to himself.
This has boosted the firm's production volume by 1.5 times while also increasing energy efficiency.
Mr Anthony Yeow, operations manager for Sanwa-Intec, said: "Partnering with NYP has helped us accelerate our digital transformation journey by automating and robotising some operations."
NYP students were offered internships at Sanwa-Intec, which resulted in employment for some.
Ms Alysia Ong, who graduated with a diploma in digital and precision engineering in 2021, accepted a full-time role as an automation engineer after a six-month internship.
"By getting more experience during my internship, I was able to adapt quickly to my new responsibilities at the new job and experience less stress from being new," she said.