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S'pore R&D spend pushes forward

The country's overall spending on research and development last year hit an "unprecedented" high of US$4.3 billion, according to government agency.
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Written by Victoria Ho, Contributor on

Singapore's overall expenditure on research and development (R&D) grew an "unprecedented" 26.5 percent to hit S$6.3 billion (US$4.3 billion) in 2007, the country's Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), announced.

According to the government agency's annual National Survey of R&D of some 1,000 organizations, the increase was a "significant jump" from the previous year's rise of 9.3 percent. The country spent S$5 billion (US$3.4 billion) on R&D in 2006, bringing the spending (as a percentage of the country's gross domestic product) from 2.31 percent in 2006 to 2.61 percent in 2007.

Increases in private sector spending is also outpacing that of the public sector. The former upped spending from S$3.29 billion (US$2.27 billion) in 2006 to S$4.2 billion (US$2.9 billion) in 2007. The public sector increased its S$1.7 billion (US$1.17 billion) expenditure to S$2.1 billion (US$1.45 billion) last year.

Overall, manufacturing accounted for the bulk of the private sector spend at S$3 billion (US$2 billion)--70.5 percent of the total private sector R&D expenditure.

Along with the increased funding, the country's research talent base expanded by 9 percent, from 25,033 to 27,301 personnel. The private sector employed 59 percent of all researchers, said A*STAR.

On a global scale, Singapore's R&D spending intensity of 2.61 percent has surpassed Germany's 2.53 percent (in 2006) and is approaching that of the United States' 2.68 percent, said the agency.

"We still lag behind R&D-intensive economies such as Finland (3.41 percent in 2008), Sweden (3.63 percent in 2007), Japan (3.39 percent in 2006) and Korea (3.22 percent in 2006)," it said.

Yena Lim, managing director of A*STAR, said: “2007 has been exceptional...Singapore is fast building a strong base of R&D activities in the country. The Government’s steadfast support of R&D activities has spurred the rapid development of this sector, and encouraged investors to make significant R&D investments here."

"Knowledge-based and innovation-driven activities will allow our economy to be more resilient and create high value jobs for Singaporeans."

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