RIE2020 Plan

Our investments in research, innovation and enterprise will lay the foundation of our Future Economy ... and transform Singapore into a Smart Nation

“R&D is an investment in our own future. It’s an expression of belief in Singapore and Singapore’s future. If we want to be a knowledge-based economy, which thrives on innovation and enterprise, we must build this knowledge base on which we can build the future of Singapore – then R&D is where we have to invest.”

Teo Chee Hean
Deputy Prime Minister
Coordinating Minister for National Security
Chairman, National Research Foundation Singapore 


Research, innovation and enterprise are cornerstones of Singapore’s national strategy to develop a knowledge-based innovation-driven economy and society. Public investment in research and innovation has grown over the last 25 years. Under the last five-year Research, Innovation and Enterprise (RIE) 2015 Plan, the Singapore government committed $16 billion over 2011 to 2015 to establish Singapore as a global research and development (R&D) hub. The government will be sustaining its commitment to research, innovation and enterprise, and will invest $19 billion for the RIE2020 Plan over 2016 to 2020.

Plan Budget 
National Technology Plan 1995  $2 billion
National Science & Technology Plan 2000  $4 billion
Science & Technology 2005 Plan  $6 billion
Science & Technology 2010 Plan
$13.5 billion
Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2015 Plan
$16 billion
Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2020 Plan
$19 billion

Today, Singapore has a strong scientific base. Singapore’s research quality has improved, ranking well above the world average. The number of PhDs being trained locally continued to increase from 7,522 in 2011 to 7,850 in 2015. The stock of Research Scientists and Engineers (RSEs) in the workforce has also experienced sustained growth.

Relative Quality of Research in Singapore1

Field-weighted citation impact (graph)

Singapore’s universities have steadily risen up in global rankings and improved their research influence internationally. In 2015, the annual World University Rankings placed the National University of Singapore (NUS) and the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in the 12th and 13th positions respectively2, up from 22nd and 39th the previous year. From 2006 to 2015, NTU’s field-weighted citation impact (FWCI) increased by 42%, while NUS’ increased by 19%. The FWCI of NUS and NTU in 2014 were higher than other top Asian universities such as the University of Hong Kong, the University of Tokyo, and the Peking University3

The growth of Singapore’s universities as top research institutions is due to our focus on excellence in research and education, and our strong research infrastructure. This has enabled our universities to build up a strong faculty of world-class scientists. We have further strengthened Singapore’s base by attracting home outstanding Singaporean scientists who have made their mark overseas, by providing them with opportunities to further their work in Singapore’s vibrant research environment and to mentor our next generation of scientists. Our Research Centres of Excellence have also built strong teams around areas of cutting edge research, and are now regarded as being among the top centres in their respective fields internationally.

Singapore has also become a nexus for international R&D collaborations. The Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise (CREATE) established 15 joint research programmes between our local universities and 10 top overseas institutions (including Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, and Shanghai Jiao Tong University). As of 2015, CREATE laboratories have collectively produced over 2,350 publications in leading academic journals and worked with more than 100 companies. The research outcomes have also led to eight spin-off companies. 

There are currently more than 20 research institutes under the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) that straddle the spectrum from fundamental to applied research, producing breakthrough science in various fields. A*STAR has built strengths in the fields of biomedical engineering, biochemistry, molecular biology & genetics, chemistry and physics, and was named one of the Top 5 Cancer Innovators in Asia, 2010 to 20144. A*STAR has strong partnerships with leading global research centres, such as with RIKEN on life sciences, biotechnology and materials science, and with the University of Southampton’s Marine and Maritime Institute (SMMI) in Marine and Offshore.

By aligning its research with industry demand, A*STAR has been able to leverage its semiconductor R&D expertise to establish joint laboratories with industry partners such as Applied Materials, Inc., Dai Nippon Printing Co. Ltd., and Nikon. Biopolis has supported the growth of the pharmaceutical industry in Singapore, with A*STAR working with 30 leading pharmaceutical companies from around the world, including Chugai Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd and Novartis International AG. A*STAR’s approach to open innovation has seeded a new Food and Nutrition and Consumer Care innovation cluster in Singapore that has attracted companies, and has led to the creation of over 1,000 R&D jobs. This encompasses global leaders like Nestle, Danone and P&G; specialty chemicals and ingredient companies like Dupont, DSM, Kerry and Ingredion; as well as major flavour and fragrance companies . 

Hospitals and other healthcare providers that serve as academic medical centres enable partnerships between healthcare providers and universities to contribute toward the advancement of patient care through translational clinical research. The National University Health System (NUHS) translational and clinical research strategy and the SingHealth/Duke-NUS five-year Joint Strategic Research Masterplan aim to establish a base of outstanding basic and clinical science faculty, through strategic partnerships and multi-institutional collaborations with partners such as the Clinical Imaging Research Centre, Clinical Nutrition Research Centre, POLARIS (Personalized OMIC Lattice for Advanced Research and Improving Stratification), and the National Neuroscience Research Institute, so as to deliver high impact research discoveries. 

The build-up of Singapore’s R&D capabilities has fostered industry-science linkages. We have seen the growth of public-private research partnerships such as the Keppel-NUS Corporate Laboratory and the Institute of Microelectronics’ Advanced Semiconductor Joint Labs. There are also more industry research consortia, such as the A*STAR Aerospace Research Consortium, Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Centre, LUX Photonics Consortium, Singapore Diabetes Consortium, and Singapore Gastric Cancer Consortium. Singapore is emerging as a global hydrohub as a result of our investments in environmental and water technologies, and major global companies such as GE, Veolia, and Toray have been attracted to set up operations in Singapore. 

New economic activity is being catalysed by our R&D investments and our start-up ecosystem is increasingly vibrant. In the information and communications technology sector, we have had successful start-up exits and the first unicorns born in Singapore, Garena and Razer. Singapore ranked 10th in the world (and first in Asia) for best start-up nations in The Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2015. 

In RIE2020, we will build on the progress made to date and continue to leverage our public sector R&D investments to grow industry R&D capabilities, nurture innovative enterprises, and meet our national needs.

Through long-term planning and effective implementation, our investments in research, innovation and enterprise will secure our future. These will contribute significantly to our economy, and create more good jobs and opportunities for Singaporeans; improve healthcare for our population, especially our seniors; and transform our urban landscape for greater liveability and sustainability. 

Major Thrusts

Under the RIE2020 Plan, Singapore is implementing four major strategic thrusts that build on the progress achieved under the RIE2015 Plan to create greater value in Singapore from our investment in research, innovation and enterprise:

Closer Integration of Research Thrusts. Encourage stronger multi-disciplinary, multi-stakeholder collaboration to allow greater coordination of efforts nationally towards achieving our research goals, and to invest strategically in foundational and mission-oriented research.

Stronger Dynamic towards the Best Teams and Ideas. Continued shift towards more competitive funding (from 20% of public funding for research in RIE2015 to 40% in RIE2020) to support the best teams and ideas, and more White Space funding (from $1.6 billion in RIE2015 to $2.5 billion in RIE2020) to allow greater flexibility in reprioritising funding towards areas of new economic opportunities and national needs as they arise over the next five years.

Sharper Focus on Value Creation. Strengthen flow-through from research to its eventual impact in society and economy, through additional budget allocation towards public-private research collaborations and increased efforts in helping companies expand their absorptive capacities for new technologies, to support our Future Economy and Smart Nation efforts. 

Better Optimised RIE Manpower. Sustain a strong research and innovation workforce in the private and public sectors, where national needs are highest, by building a strong Singaporean core supplemented with international researchers of high repute.

Strategic Technology Domains

To maximise impact, funding will be prioritised in four strategic technology domains where Singapore has competitive advantages and/or important national needs. These are:

  •   Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering (AME)
  •   Health and Biomedical Sciences (HBMS)
  •   Urban Solutions and Sustainability (USS) 
  •   Services and Digital Economy (SDE)

Activities in the four strategic technology domains will be supported by three cross-cutting programmes to ensure excellent science, a strong pipeline of skilled manpower, and value creation. These are:

  •   Academic Research
  •   Manpower
  •   Innovation and Enterprise (I&E)

Key R&D schemes open for industry participation can be found in the Innovation & Enterprise section, to encourage industry partners to collaborate with public research performers to carry out R&D in areas of immediate interest to industry. We are also encouraging strategic partnerships between our public research performers and industry partners in upstream R&D, so that our companies can pre-position themselves to seize opportunities globally from Singapore, using cutting-edge technologies.

RIE2020 Framework and Portfolio

In the next five years (2016 to 2020), under the sixth science and technology plan for Singapore - the RIE2020 Plan - the government has committed $19 billion to research, innovation and enterprise, to take Singapore to the next stage of development. 

With continued commitment to research, innovation and enterprise, Singapore seeks to support and translate research, build up the innovation capacity of our companies to drive economic growth, and leverage science and technology to address national challenges.

Vision: Transforming Singapore into a Smart Nation

Singapore is transforming to become a Smart Nation, where citizens live meaningful and fulfilled lives empowered by digital technology, where digital connectivity leads to stronger community bonds and many more opportunities for Singaporeans to pursue their aspirations and contribute to Singapore’s future. 

This is a whole-of-nation journey that Singapore is embarking on, enabled by digital technologies. Digital technologies will impact how we live our daily lives, open up new possibilities for the way we manufacture goods and deliver services, expand healthcare options, and revolutionise the way we plan and run our city. 

We are systematically putting in place the infrastructure, policies, ecosystem and capabilities that will power our Smart Nation effort. We are encouraging a culture of experimentation, and are working together with our citizens and our companies to co-create solutions and better serve our citizens, who are at the heart of our Smart Nation vision. 

The RIE2020 Plan coupled with the Smart Nation initiative will see all RIE technology domains drawing on digital technologies – for example, digitally-enhanced manufacturing, digital delivery of health services, or even live digital simulations of fleets of autonomous vehicles to ensure system-level resiliency – so as to deliver innovative solutions for tomorrow.  

RIE2020 Framework


RIE2020 Portfolio


1 Field-weighted citation impact (FWCI) tracks how the number of citations received by Singapore’s publications compares with the global average (represented by a FWCI of 1.00). For example, Singapore’s FWCI of 1.82 in 2012 means that Singapore’s publications received 82% more citations than the world average. Data source from Elsevier SciVal.
2 The ranking is by London-based education consultancy Quacquarelli Symonds and is based on normalised-weighted research citations.
3 NTU’s and NUS’ FWCI were 1.9 and 1.7 respectively in 2015, while the University of Hong Kong, the University of Tokyo and the Peking University were scored at 1.7, 1.3, and 1.4 respectively. 
4 Thomson Reuters 2015 State of Innovation Report.


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