Singapore's Cleantech R&D in Energy & Water Gets More Funding

Text and photo by Mallika Naguran

12 July 2011, Singapore. Singapore's research and development (R&D) in clean technology has received two major funding boosts by the government recently. Chairman of Singapore Economic Development Board Leo Yip announced today at Clean Technology Investment World Asia 2011 that the National Research Foundation (NRF) has set aside an additional S$195 million for five years to nurture reseach and manpower capabilities within the clean energy industry.

Chairman of EDB Leo Yip: Cleantech a key sector for Singapore's economic growth

Chairman of EDB Leo Yip: Cleantech a key sector for Singapore's economic growth

The new fund will help reach 2015 targets of S$1.7 billion of economic value-added and 7,000 skilled jobs. It will also build on existing strengths in solar energy while diversifying into new growth areas such as smart grids, green buildings, and carbon capture and utilisation.

Apart from supporting research in industry-oriented innovation, part of the fund will serve as competitive grants to solicit "bottom-up innovations", commercialize R&D results and develop postgraduate talent.

This allocation follows a week after Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam's announcement at the Singapore International Water Week 2011 of an additional S$140 million from NRF devoted to R&D in the water sector.

Singapore’s Four Ingredients

Singapore eyes the cleantech industry as a key sector for economic growth. “We believe that Singapore offers global cleantech companies a unique combination of four key ingredients, all in one place,” says Chairman Yip. “They are technology, markets, talent and capital.”


Cleantech research and innovation will be a growth driver, even with the extra S$195 million funds pumped into the clean energy sector. This will help strengthen solar energy research, plus stimulate new growth areas such as smart grids, green buildings, and carbon capture and utilization.

Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore, home to 160 top researchers, is collaborating with Norway’s REC and China’s Trina Solar. SERIS is regarded as the top solar research institute in Asia, outside Japan. The Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NEWRI) is a comprehensive and integrated research centre in water and environmental technologies, and has undertaken joint R&D projects with Toray and Sembcorp.

Although Singapore has no wind market, the island city has built up capabilities for this sector in material sciences and control systems. This, according to Yip, has helped attract global R&D centres from leading wind companies such as Vestas and Gamesa.


What Cleantech Park would look like in 2030

What Cleantech Park would look like in 2030

The island nation is ready as a test-bed for green solutions. For instance, its water agency PUB gives companies access to its infrastructure for the testing advanced water technologies. Singapore’s slew of international environmental events serve as springboards for companies to access global markets.

Singapore's Cleantech Park will be the region's first eco-business park that will allow companies showase systems-level cleantech solutions.

Singapore will be participating in the International Cleantech Network, a leading network of cleantech clusters around the world.


Initiatives are being implemented to develop cleantech manpower capabilities of overseas and local talents at across all levels. Companies such as Vestas, GE and Siemens found talent availability rather attractive in setting up innovation facilities in Singapore.


A growing base of venture capitalists, private equity firms, banks and corporate investors in Singapore provide the funds needed for companies intending to be based in Asia. Singapore Economic Development Board Investment (EDBI) places its interest in innovative companies that wish to grow in Asia through the lion city.

In fact the EDBI has invested in home-grown tidal energy turbine developer Atlantis Resources Corporation and Contour Energy Systems, A US-based next-generation battery technology development company.