Singapore will create budgets and plans that encourage greater coordination between agencies for research and innovation, said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean.

The government will “sharpen our strategies” by “planning and budgeting according to the priority areas to encourage greater inter-agency coordination”, he said, announcing the Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2020 plan.

The Singapore Government has four priority areas for research over the next five years: biomedical sciences, digital technologies, urban living solutions and advanced manufacturing.

The government wants more competition between agencies to generate innovative ideas in these areas. “We will introduce governance and funding mechanisms that not just fund only the best ideas, but also periodically review projects and phase-out underperforming ones,” Minister Teo said.

“We will also enhance funding incentives to encourage R&D collaboration between public and private sector”, he added.

Singapore wants to build a strong workforce to work on these projects, Minister Teo said: “We will also build up managerial expertise in innovation and enterprise to better translate research into commercial and other uses.”

Singapore is already looking to robotics research to make up for a declining labour productivity. It is testing a robot that can tile floors in new buildings, while another is already dispensing medicines in hospitals. It is also testing whether driverless cars can be used for public transport.