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A*Star-linked industry projects and R&D spending jump in FY2017

THE Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) worked on more industry projects in the year ending March 2018, leading to companies spending more on R&D.

A*Star chairman Lim Chuan Poh told reporters on Friday that the agency was involved in more than 2,100 projects with companies, up 20 per cent from FY2016. A third of the projects were with local enterprises.

R&D spending through industry projects with A*Star's research institutes jumped more than 50 per cent to around S$340 million.

"More significantly, R&D spending by local enterprises outpaced this increase, growing by around two thirds from S$61 million to S$102 million," Mr Lim said at A*Star's year-in-review briefing.

Three-quarters of over 260 A*Star licences were taken up by local enterprises in FY2017, against 60 per cent of 235 in FY2016.

The licences covered a wide range, from antibodies to Artificial Intelligence speech services and inventory management tools. The licences enable companies to expand innovation capacity and commercialise innovative products and services.

"We have maintained the momentum of our R&D efforts and continued to catalyse innovation for industry, helping our local enterprises remain relevant and keeping Singapore globally competitive," Mr Lim said.

He said R&D and innovation is at the heart of Singapore's drive to stay competitive and to grow the economy. "The government has sustained its commitment to RIE (the national Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2020 plan) and businesses are responding positively."

Mr Lim said one measure is business spending on R&D. According to a 2016 national R&D survey, Singapore businesses have maintained their R&D spending at around S$5.7 billion.

Under RIE, launched in 2016 under the Prime Minister's Office, the government has committed S$19 billion to research, innovation and enterprise for the next five years.

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