Singapore announces US$3.2 billion innovation plan

Budget 2016 boosts robotics and automation to drive productivity.

Singapore has today announced more investment in cutting-edge technology to help local companies increase productivity. A total of SG$4.5 billion (US$3.28 billion) has been allocated for the Industry Transformation Programme, announced Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat in the Budget 2016 speech. As part of this, the government will set up a SG$450 million (US$328.7 million) robotics fund to develop and deploy robots in the healthcare, logistics, construction and manufacturing sectors, he said. Singapore will also provide SG$400 million (US$292 million) of subsidies to help automate businesses over three years. The government will support up to 50% of the project cost, up to a maximum of SG$1 million (US$730,788). SMEs will get access to loans and qualified projects will get 100% of investments for machines covered. The government will also set up the Jurong Innovation District, an industrial park to bring together entrepreneurs, researchers and students, he said. Nanyang Technological University will become part of the innovation district, which will be the “future of innovation for enterprise, learning and living”, he said. The first phase of the park will be completed in 2022. Separately, Singapore will provide SG$1.5 billion (US$1.09 billion) for public sector research. This is in addition to the SG$19 billion (US$13.8 billion) innovation five-year budget announced in January, of which SG$4 billion (US$2.9 billion) will be used for government collaboration with private sector. The government is setting up a new unit to support startups called SG Innovate. The unit will match entrepreneurs with mentors, venture capitalists and research talent with a focus on smart energy, fintech, digital health, internet of things and digital manufacturing. See also: Charted: How do regional innovation budgets compare? Skills incubator being set up