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The idea of Future•Singapore is
simple. The world is undergoing
dramatic social and demographic
changes--such as urbanization and
climate change--and companies are
searching for commercially-viable in-
novations to address these issues.
There needs to be a place to hatch
new ideas and test concepts, and
Singapore provides a conducive
environment as a living laboratory
where companies can experiment and
develop world-class solutions. These
are solutions which Singapore needs,
and these products and services can
then be exported to global markets.
"We believe that given our
research community, between the
Singapore-based companies and the
government, we can be very good
partners for international companies
to co-create these solutions and busi-
nesses. This is how Singapore adds
value to the process," said Beh Swan
Gin, managing director of EDB.
"Take water as an example. We
wish to be self-sufficient, and so we
went about looking at the kind of
water technologies we can develop,
be it in desalination or recycling. Over
the past few years we have enjoyed
tremendous success. Now both for-
eign and local companies are using
technologies that were test-bedded
and developed here, and selling them
all over the world," adds Beh.
Singapore's close proximity to
a rapidly expanding Asian market,
including economic giants China and
India, also means that companies
are close to the markets they want
The critical factor in developing
Singapore as a living laboratory is its
science and technological base. A
big draw for companies is the ready
access to talented researchers.
The research workforce increased
from 15,800 in 2000 to 27,300 in
2007. "This is also an opportunity to
position Singapore as an attractive
location for talent from all over the
world," said Beh, citing Singapore's
cosmopolitan and safe environment
as qualities that have attracted global
talent to its shores.
The move to extend the breadth
and depth of Singapore's multi-
disciplinary science and technology
capabilities has helped the country to
anchor more capital, knowledge, and
For example, Renewable Energy
Corporation ASA is setting up its
new global-scale integrated solar-
manufacturing complex in Singapore.
When fully operational, the complex
is expected to produce up to 1.5
gigawatts (GW) of solar products.
In comparison, the total worldwide
output for such products amounted to
about 2.5 GW in 2006. The invest-
ment is a boost to Singapore's up-
and-coming clean energy industry.
Singapore:a living lab
Singapore provides a conducive environment to
hatch ideas, test solutions and export them to global markets.
About 380 international corporations were
engaged in R&D activities in Singapore in
2007, a 70 percent increase from just 220
international corporations in 2000, according
to Singapore's national R&D survey.
Most of these were U.S., European and
Biopolis and Fusionopolis have been impor-
tant in attracting these corporate R&D labs.
"Companies enjoy the ability to avoid
heavy upfront capital investment in scientific
infrastructure and to recruit scientists eas-
ily, because the [right] post-doc may be
working at a lab next door," says Beh Swan
Gin, managing director of EDB. "At lunch
[researchers] can attend seminars and
Alex Matter, director of the Novartis Insti-
tute for Tropical Diseases, located at Bio-
polis, says that many factors encouraged
Novartis to settle in Singapore: a shared
common language, its location in the center
of East Asia, good schools for the children
of its employees, a high level of safety in the
streets at all hours, and first-class techno-
logical and scientific facilities.
Singapore was also the site that EADS
chose when it decided to open its first
Research and Technology (R&T) Center
outside of Europe.
The company has significant collabora-
tions with A*STAR, and is a founding mem-
ber of A*STAR's aerospace R&D program
that brings together three other aerospace
giants--Boeing, Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-
Royce---in pre-competitive research. Under
this program, companies and A*STAR
researchers work together on projects that
might be seen as too high risk to under-
Says Ulrich Schnaut, chief operating
officer of the EADS Singapore office, "Sin-
gapore has a vibrant world-class research
community. There is a thriving maintenance,
repair and overhaul business, a strong IP
regime and a supportive pro-industry, pro-
research government. All these are factors
which attracted us to Singapore."
More corporate labs headed to Singapore
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