SINGAPORE: Companies invested S$340 million in research and development with The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) in the last financial year, a 50 per cent spike from FY2016, it revealed at its year-in-review briefing on Friday (May 18).
Of these, a third came from local enterprises, the agency said.
“More significantly, R&D spending by local enterprises outpaced this increase, growing by around two-thirds from S$61 million to S$102 million,” said A*STAR chairman Lim Chuan Poh.
The agency worked on more than 2,100 research projects last year, an increase of 20 per cent from FY2016.
Three-quarters of more than 260 A*STAR licences were also taken up by local enterprises in FY2017, compared to about 60 per cent of 235 in FY2016.
“This has been a very good year for A*STAR, but much more importantly, it is good because our local enterprises have really stepped up, in terms of leveraging research, to make their business competitive,” Mr Lim added.
NEW VENTURE IN SILICON PHOTONICS
At the briefing, A*STAR also revealed its latest venture, a new spin-off called the Advanced Micro Foundry (AMF), a specialty commercial foundry with an expertise in silicon photonics technology.
The technology will allow, for example, a large 50 gigabyte file to be transmitted “within one second” with the use of silicon photonics and fibre optics, explained Professor Tan Sze Wee, executive director of A*STAR’s Science and Engineering Research Council.
AMF’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr Tan Yong Tsong, added that the AMF addresses a gap in the electronics and semiconductor industry, which is currently focused on mass production.
While other foundries may produce hundreds of thousands of wafers a month, AMF will only be manufacturing about 10,000 a year. The customisable chips can be used in areas such as 5G data communication, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things.
“They are very specialised products and hence very high value,” he said. “It enables data to be processed at the speed of light.”
AMF currently has secured investments that value the company at around US$300 million. It is also in the process of securing additional investments for future capital and operational needs that may raise the valuation to US$400 million, it said.