PM Lee opens Fusionopolis, second major R&D hub

Singapore’s second major research and development (R&D) hub – Fusionopolis – was opened by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Friday, with the announcement that the Republic recorded the highest gross domestic expenditure in R&D last year.

Fusionopolis stands side by side with Biopolis, the biomedical sciences hub.

Mr Lee told the gathering of top international researchers that the current global financial turmoil has clouded Singapore’s economic outlook, and the economy has gone into recession.

But Singapore’s R&D programme takes a long-term perspective, and will proceed despite the immediate ups and downs.

Mr Lee said funding will not be affected as the government is fully committed to investing in R&D to develop a key capability that will keep the economy competitive.

Mr Lee said: “We can’t go up and spend more when times are good and cut back and send researchers back home when times are bad. Sometimes, other countries have to do that and their budgets have year-to-year exigencies and it causes great instability. Our aim is to have a buffered, stable long-term trend.

“Our steady commitment will continue to draw researchers to set up and root their research activities in Singapore, and give investors the confidence to establish high-tech industries and corporate R&D centres here. While the scale of our R&D effort is new, R&D itself is something which we have pursued for some time. It has played an important role in Singapore’s industrial development.

“Our public research institutions (RIs) are the bridge that translates public R&D into useful outcomes for the economy and society. Many RIs have grown alongside the industrial sectors they support. By intertwining their research programmes with the needs of industry, our RIs provide companies access to new knowledge and innovative technologies that help to sustain their competitive edge.”

Mr Lee said Singapore spent S$6.3 billion in R&D last year, with the private sector accounting for two-thirds of the expenditure.

The 2007 amount was also an unprecedented increase of 26 per cent from 2006, and double the S$3 billion recorded in 2000. The results are based on a National R&D survey conducted by A*STAR.

Meanwhile, Singapore’s Interactive Digital Media industry is also getting a boost. The Media Development Authority – also housed at Fusionopolis – announced that 15 new projects will get S$12 million in funding.

Collectively, these projects will result in an increase of some S$37 million in total business spending for Singapore. They will also create 240 new jobs and provide hands-on training for some 5,600 students and professionals.

A*STAR said the futuristic 30-hectare Fusionopolis, which will be developed over six phases, is Singapore’s icon for R&D in interactive media, physical sciences, engineering and technology.

There are currently some 800 scientists, engineers and game developers housed at Fusionopolis. And that is set to increase to 2,400 by 2012, when the second phase is ready.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 17 Oct 2008

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