SINGAPORE: The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) is gearing up to make changes to its research units, as part of efforts to provide more clarity on funding.
Scientists working on research will largely not be expected to secure industry partnerships, it announced on Tuesday (Mar 27). Meanwhile, there will be less emphasis on those who work closely with industry partners to publish in scientific journals.
A*STAR chairman Lim Chuan Poh said these changes are line with the Government's five-year Research, Innovation and Enterprise (RIE) 2020 plan and will take effect from Apr 1 - the start of A*STAR's financial year.
Key to the change is the reorganisation of its 20 research units into "constructs" such as Knowledge Creation Activities, Technology Centres, Multidisciplinary Programmes and Research Institutes.
Mainly, only the Knowledge Creation Activities and Multidisciplinary Programmes constructs will have to compete for funding - through a merit-based process.
Research units that fall under the other constructs, such as the Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech), Bioprocessing Technology Institute and Institute of High Performance Computing, will mostly be financed through core funds.
“There will be no change to research projects which have already secured funding,” said Mr Lim, who stressed that A*STAR’s organisational structure will remain largely intact unless absolutely necessary.
“This will give clarity to the research group. They stay focused on what they are best at, whether it is upstream knowledge creation or in fact working with the industry,” said Mr Lim. “I think researchers will welcome this.”
Executive director of the Genome Institute of Singapore, Professor Ng Huck Hui said that researchers have been adequately prepared for the organisational changes.
“We have told them precisely which funding will be suitable for them so that collectively we can decide what the funding available to us is," said Professor Ng.
Mr Lim said A*STAR’s transformation takes into account technological changes, shifting industry and national needs, as well as intensifying competition globally.
A*STAR houses more than 5,000 employees and manages 18 research units, which range in emphasis from knowledge creation to industry-facing technology development. It was ranked 10 on Reuters’ 2017 Top 25 Global Innovators List, which identifies publicly funded institutions that are at the forefront of science and technology.