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18 Sep 2017

Singapore boosts investment in deep-tech startups and research

The Singapore government has announced plans to boost investment in technology research in the city-state, through the National Research Foundation (NRF) and state sovereign fund Temasek.

The announcement was made by Minister of Finance and deputy chairman of the NRF, Heng Swee Keat, at government-backed technology innovation conference SWITCH (Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology).

The new boost to investment will focus on deep tech research, in particular by startups, academia, and research agencies. The intention of the scheme is to push the projects towards a commercial endpoint.

In the announcement, Keat noted the difficulty of producing an environment of innovation, saying: “Innovation is unpredictable — you can never predict exactly when or where the eureka moment will strike…there are some critical ingredients, and when they come together, innovation and value arise.”

He also noted the necessity of collaborative projects, and matching innovative and research with the right funding: “This [scheme] will complement other government support schemes for startups by connecting technical and academic innovators to smart capital.”

‘Smart capital’ is one of the necessary ingredients required to create an innovative technology ecosystem, according to Keat. He also identified the need for an enhanced IP framework, as well as initiatives in universities and polytechnics.

On pushing funding through universities, the minister commented that the environment is particularly conducive to innovative projects and research, and as such the government will be launching the National Lean LaunchPad Singapore, a ten-week programme aimed at helping research scientists and engineers acquire go-to-market strategies.

Other specific initiatives include a $12 million (approx. £8.8 million) grant from the NRF to cyber security projects via the National Cyber Security R&D program, which also aims to bring theoretical projects to market. Examples include an automated vulnerability detection and analysis tool, an encrypted data exchange system for businesses and a system for secure, data-protecting environments on smartphones.

Investment in tech in the APAC region was recently seen to be booming, with data centre growth in Asia-Pacific pushing global revenue.

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