Singapore Gets Strong R&D Commitment

SINGAPORE (04/19/2000) - Both the public and private sectors in Singapore significantly increased their expenditure on research and development (R&D) in 1999, according to a preliminary report on R&D efforts here.

Released by the National Science and Technology Board (NSTB) last week, the report stated that the manufacturing sector's strong rebound in 1999 here saw private sector R&D expenditure grow 17 percent over the previous year to S$1.79 billion (US$1.1 billion).

Meanwhile, public sector R&D expenditure by research institutes and centers, and tertiary institutes also rose by 5 percent to reach S$1 billion. Together, the Gross Expenditure on R&D (GERD) of S$2.8 billion by both sectors contributed to a 12 percent rise from 1998.

The ratio of GERD to GDP (Gross Domestic Product) increased to 1.94 percent, up from 1.76 percent in 1998. According to NSTB, this is higher than the GERD/GDP target of 1.6 percent for year 2000, which was projected in the five-year national science and technology blueprint, NSTP 2000. NSTB is therefore confident that Singapore will reach the 2 percent GERD/GDP target, originally set for 2005, five years earlier by the end of this year.

This GERD/GDP level signifies that as a nation, both private and public sector organizations are geared towards R&D, expressed Teo Ming Kian, chairman, NSTB.

"As we continue to move to being a knowledge-based economy, certainly most companies here will go into R&D," Teo said.

From the 127 public and private sector organizations surveyed on their R&D expenditure plans, NSTB noted a generally positive note. It said that 52 percent of these private sector companies responded that they are likely to increase their R&D expenditure, while 13 percent reported the likelihood of decreased R&D expenditure.

For the public sector R&D organizations surveyed, 59 percent of the institutions indicated likely increases in their R&D investments, but another 3 percent of the institutions indicated a likely decrease in their R&D expenditure.

"The recent surge in the number of technopreneurial enterprises also contributed to the entrenching culture of R&D and innovation (in Singapore)," NSTB said.

Reflective of the increasing quality of intellectual property in Singapore arizing from investments in R&D, 701 patents were applied for in 1999, up 21 percent from 1998. The number of patents awarded grew to 155, up 19 percent from a year ago, NSTB said.

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