Fusionopolis Two: Singapore launches new research hub for science and tech while HK still debating technology bureau

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 October, 2015, 8:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 October, 2015, 1:10pm

While the Hong Kong Legislative Council continues to debate the feasibility of a technology and innovation bureau, Singapore launched a new research and development complex on Monday to boost innovation in the city in the fields of technology and science.

Dubbed Fusionopolis Two, the complex is the latest addition to Singapore’s R&D landscape. It is expected to drive new economic growth areas for the city-state.

Launched in 2008, one-north is a large development hub in the city that comprises three purpose-built areas for public and private bodies: Biopolis is a dedicated biomedical R&D facility, Fusionopolis focuses on infocomms as well as media, science and engineering, and Mediapolis is a self-contained digital media cluster.

READ MORE: Hong Kong tech bureau can boost links with mainland China, says IT adviser after three-day visit to Beijing

Fusionopolis Two is home to four science and engineering research institutes – the Data Storage Institute, the Institute of Microelectronics, the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering, and the Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology.

The US$324 million addition means that a total 16 out of 18 research institutes under Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) will be located within the one-north hot spot.

“We have been steadily investing in R&D now for many years and we’ve made progress,” said Lee Hsien Loong, Singapore’s prime minister.

He added that over 7,400 projects undertaken since 2011 have resulted in R&D investment of more than US$720 million.

“We decided to create a research and innovation hub … to take advantage of [the shared] location, and to foster closer collaboration between private enterprises and public research institutes,” he added.

Proctor & Gamble and Chinese search engine giant Baidu have already set up joint laboratories with research institutes at Biopolis and Fusionopolis One, respectively.

One of the projects involved the processing technology to deal with Thai for Baidu’s online translation service from and to English.

Companies that work with research institutes in these R&D complexes can enjoy a number of benefits, according to Professor Lye Kin Mun, deputy executive director at A*STAR’s Science and Engineering Research Council.

R&D clusters like the two Fusionopolis developments can serve as a one-stop shop for multinationals that are keen to work in a range of fields. The research institutes there can design and make chips, create software and even manufacture products.

Attracting multinationals to do their research and development in Singapore results in more foreign direct investment and directly benefits the growth of SMEs in the country as larger companies often rely on their manufacturing support.

“When [companies] come to work with the public sector, they don’t want the hassle of dealing with nine or ten different entities on different subjects,” said Lye.

“They want to come to one place to work on different business areas that they’re involved in.”

Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has also been pushing for an innovation and technology bureau to help focus the city on IT development and convert research into commercial products.

But his proposal has met with much resistance from radical pan-democrats, some of whom have filibustered and opposed the plan.

On Friday, Leung’s administration sought start-up funding for the fourth time for the controversial bureau, which led to more filibustering.