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A*STAR helps SMEs in Singapore improve productivity

Nurdianah Md Nur | March 20, 2015
SMEs in the republic have invested S$576 million in R&D last year to improve their competitiveness.

Since last year, the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) has been offering its Technology Adoption Programme (TAP) to help ensure small- and medium- sized enterprises (SMEs) in Singapore remain the core of the republic's economy.

According to the public sector agency focusing on research and development (R&D), initiatives in TAP were designed to help SMEs improve productivity in their workforce. For instance, Feinmetall — a local startup that deals with precision engineering — utilises a simple image recognition technology to enable its employees to access instruction manuals or training videos on their devices by scanning the logos of equipments. This saves employees the hassle of manually flipping through hard copy documents or deploying technicians on-site.

The agency added that about 620 other SMEs collaborated with A*STAR last year, which contributed to about 40 percent of the agency's industry projects in 2014. This might have been spurred by SMEs' increasing focus to leverage R&D to be more competitive —A*STAR found that local SMEs spent S$576 million in total on research in 2014, which is a 5 percent year-on-year growth.

Other efforts dedicated at helping SMEs include the introduction of simplified licensing initiatives to improve ease of technology transfer and time-to-market for SMEs, as well as licensing that offers SMEs first-mover advantage when adopting A*STAR technologies. These initiatives led to about two-thirds of the 206 commercial licenses being awarded to SMEs, an increase of 6 percent from that in 2013. A*STAR also continues to work closely with SPRING Singapore to upgrade technological capabilities of local companies for growth through initiatives like GET-Up.

 "R&D needs to be at the forefront of our efforts to remain innovative and stay ahead of the global competition," said Lim Chuan Poh, Chairman of A*STAR. "We will continue to drive innovation that captures value for industries such as manufacturing, and to advance technologies in areas such as urban systems, both of which are critical for Singapore's growth and development. We will also continue to build capabilities for emerging growth areas in Asia such as food & nutrition, medical technologies, and consumer care, to further economic opportunities for Singapore," he added.


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