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Research centre specialising in separation technologies launched

A NEW research centre was officially launched on Thursday to develop and commercialise separation technologies which have applications in the healthcare and utilities sector.

Located at CleanTech Park, Separation Technologies Applied Research and Translation (START) is expected to have 15 to 20 engineers with industry-relevant experience who will build water treatment systems, test them in real-life scenarios and get them ready for industry adoption.

Jointly supported by Nanyang Technological University (NTU), the Economic Development Board (EDB) and the Public Utilities Board (PUB), the S$30 million START facility will first focus on membrane technologies for application in seawater desalination. It will subsequently diversify into other applications such as environmental and air filtration.

"While our universities and research institutes are producing a rich pool of intellectual property (IP) related to membrane separation technologies, there is a lack of specialist talent and infrastructure to help our companies take up these IPs, further scale up the research, and get it ready for market," said Minister for Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli at the launch. "START aims to fill this gap."

This launch comes amid water challenges in Singapore. Said Adil Dhalla, executive director of the centre: "Right now, we have four National Taps, and one of them which is due to an agreement with Malaysia, will expire in 2061. So we will be left with three 'taps', and the challenge is not be to bring it back to 100 per cent but to take it to 200 per cent."