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Singapore reviewing R&D programmes to identify future areas of focus (Amended)

Monday, November 3, 2014 - 15:37
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The Research, Innovation and Enterprise Council (RIEC) is reviewing Singapore's areas of focus for research and development (R&D) before the next five-year tranche of funding is released.

THE Research, Innovation and Enterprise Council (RIEC) is reviewing Singapore's areas of focus for research and development (R&D) before the next five-year tranche of funding is released.

"We are actually reaching a state of maturation in terms of our science and technology. Key strategies that had worked well for us may need to be changed," National Research Foundation (NRF) chief Low Teck Seng said at a press briefing on Monday. This follows the 8th RIEC meeting, which was chaired by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, last Friday.

In a Facebook post last week, Mr Lee wrote: "Managing R&D is a bit like nurturing a garden. We have been planting steadily over the last decade. Now the plants are growing well. Some are blossoming, and we should plant more like them. Others need to be pruned, so that they grow in the right direction. We should also think what new seeds to plant."

Prof Low said that the budget for the next five-year tranche is expected to amount to around one per cent of Singapore's GDP per year, which could mean a higher budget vis-a-vis the current tranche. The government had committed S$16.1 billion under the existing tranche spanning 2011-2015.

Prof Low also highlighted promising technological areas where investments are currently being made to build up capabilities. These include two new research centres in advanced 2D materials and 3D printing.

And last year, the Returning Singaporean Scientists Scheme was launched to attract overseas-based Singaporeans back home to conduct research. At least two Singaporeans are due to return next year.

Meanwhile, the NRF is giving seven candidates - picked out of 192 applicants - its NRF Investigatorship to support established faculty working on research here in Singapore.

The earlier version of this article stated that the next five-year tranche is expected to amount to at least one per cent of Singapore's GDP per year, when it should be around one per cent of Singapore's GDP per year. The article above has been revised to reflect this.

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