Ms He Ting Ru: To ask the Minister for Trade and Industry (a) whether there is a shortage of manpower in the biotech sector currently; (b) if so, how will the shortage of manpower in the biotech sector be addressed over the next decade; and (c) what are the key areas or levels of seniority in which the shortage of manpower in the biotech sector is most acute.
Oral Answer (to be attributed to Minister of State for Trade and Industry Low Yen Ling)
1. We expect the biotech sector to grow by 8% per annum and concomitantly, its manpower needs, especially for roles such as regulatory affairs and clinical project management.
2. We are addressing the biotech sector’s manpower needs in several ways. First, by expanding the talent pipeline. A*STAR has nurtured a pool of 560 PhD-level talents for biomedical-related sectors to-date, including the biotech sector. In addition, we have a pipeline of 250 A*STAR scholars who are currently pursuing biomedical-related fields of study. The number of students admitted to biotech disciplines in our Autonomous Universities has grown from 1,200 in 2018 to 1,400 in 2021.
3. Second, we are nurturing talents who not only understand the science but also have the capabilities to commercialise, fundraise, and scale businesses. We do this through efforts like the SGInnovate’s Helix Immersion Programme and A*STAR’s Singapore Therapeutics Development Review (STDR) initiative. There is also the Innovation & Enterprise Fellowship Programme (IFP) which has attracted more than 90 fellows since its launch in 2020 and has seen 50 deep-tech startups, accelerators and incubators participate in its pilot.
4. Third, we are supporting the industry’s need for scientific talent through A*STAR’s Technology for Enterprise Capability Upgrading (T-Up) programme, which has seconded close to 70 researchers and scientists to 45 biotech-related companies.