Singapore's NRF unveils 5-year, $13B research budget

The National Research Foundation of Singapore unveiled a S$19 billion ($13 billion), 5-year research program that it hopes will help the city-state move up the value chain and turn more of its raw research into commercial opportunities.

The government of Singapore has in the past 25 years spent S$40 billion on R&D, according to a report in the Straits Times, with research topics ranging from stomach cancer, eye diseases and even water treatment.

In the budget review, the government cited work at Nanyang Technological University and the National University of Singapore for progress in creating membranes that mimic a protein called aquaporin to purify water at lower pressures than conventional means and lower the cost of water treatment. The government also cited work at the Singapore Eye Research Institute where researchers discovered a method to slow myopia with medicated eyedrops.

NRF officials said there were "weak spots" in the country's R&D sector and that private sector funding was one area that needed to be improved. Private industry fell short of its investment goal of 2.5% of the country's gross domestic product last year, the report said.

Officials said the tentative global economy was a drag on private investment and that they were working to beef up commercialization efforts. The research body said more "collaborative" laboratories would be created and two-way transfers of talent from research to industry and vice versa will be facilitated.

The S$19 billion committed to the country's research budget includes health and biomedical sciences, but also includes funding for advanced manufacturing and engineering, the services and digital sectors, and funding for "urban solutions" and sustainability.

- here's the report from the Straits Times