SPEECH BY MR TEO SER LUCK, MINISTER OF STATE FOR TRADE AND INDUSTRY, AT THE GLOBAL SPACE AND TECHNOLOGY CONVENTION 2012 ON THURSDAY, 9 FEBRUARY 2012, 8.45AM AT SHERATON TOWERS
Ladies and gentlemen,
Good morning. It is my pleasure to join you at the Global Space and Technology Convention today.
Space is an exciting and promising new growth area for Singapore
Singapore has transformed over the past 50 years – from a third-world labour-intensive economy, to a global city driven by knowledge and innovation. Since the first National Technology Plan in the early 1990s, our investments have supported the transformation of Singapore’s economy by upgrading existing industries and catalysing new growth areas. Last year, the Singapore government announced plans to further invest S$16.1 billion over the 2011 to 2015 period, to further boost research, innovation and enterprise. We will continue to identify and grow new industries which can create good jobs, are knowledge and innovation intensive, and yet not resource-intensive. Space is one such exciting and promising sector.
While the space industry is relatively nascent in Singapore, there are already about 1,000 man-made satellites in orbit, connecting communities around the world, providing navigation guidance to ships and cars, enhancing security, and performing scientific studies to help us better understand our world. The Space Foundation estimated the global space economy to be worth US$276 billion in 2010. This is a Compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 8.2% since 2005. It has demonstrated its robustness to the global economic turmoil, benefitting from a growing mass market and strong demand from geographically diversified institutional users. The commercial space sector is set to thrive with the burgeoning demand for connectivity, bandwidth, remote sensing data and other satellite services.
Amid valuable commercial opportunities, governments are recognising the economic benefits the space industry brings, and the desirable services and engineering jobs it generates. Budgets for space activities have remained stable or even increased in several countries despite the global economic uncertainty. Clearly, many countries value the investment in research and development for space. Beyond economic benefits, space technologies have also brought about positive societal impact. They have improved urban efficiencies; enhanced environmental studies; and increased efficiency of business continuity responses when the most unexpected happens. The space industry’s potential for socio-economic returns and increased productivity has been the motivation for various countries’ space initiatives.
Singapore’s progress and its strong adjacent public research capabilities
Over the last few years, Singapore has made modest but focussed efforts in developing her space capabilities. In 2011, we saw the successful deployment of our first indigenous satellite, designed and developed locally at the Nanyang Technological University. This marks a significant milestone in Singapore’s space technology development efforts. A commercial company ST Electronics (Satellite Systems) has been formed to leverage on and capitalise this capability in small-satellites. It will work with companies from related industries in Singapore. I understand that it looks forward to partnering leading players like you to build capabilities and identify new opportunities together.In the area of earth observation, the National University of Singapore’s Centre for Remote Imaging, Sensing and Processing (CRISP) has been performing cutting-edge research for various applications such as urban planning, plantation management, maritime and coastal support, and environmental monitoring. It has developed niche capabilities in tackling the challenges of remote sensing specific to the equatorial belt. With these capabilities, we hope to increase collaborations with both the private sector and international non-profit organisations to further enhance the safety and security of our region. For example, the Straits of Malacca is a critical piece of the global supply chain, where a fifth of the world’s shipping containers, and half of the world’s annual supply of crude oil, pass through.
Riding on these pockets of space capabilities, we hope to catalyse the growth of the space industry in Singapore, by leveraging on related technologies in Singapore’s strong public research institutions. This includes the electronics, aeronautics, communications, sensor systems and materials engineering clusters. For instance, research in Gallium Nitride semiconductors by the Institute of Microelectronics could lead to solid-state high-power amplifiers for satellites. The competencies in network communications, cryptography and signal processing in our Institute for Infocomm Research, could also be transferrable to space applications. Also, the development of light sources and systems at the National University of Singapore’s Centre for Quantum Technologies, could lead to the next-generation of space-based photon detectors and secure communications.
Singapore – A compelling location for space-related business and innovation
Moving forward, we will continue to facilitate and support international collaborations with the local public entities and commercial companies, to co-develop niche space technologies in Singapore. Our strong adjacent industries, geopolitical neutrality, efficient export regime, strong emphasis on intellectual property protection and secure infrastructure makes Singapore an attractive base to innovate from.
Beyond research and technology development, Singapore has also been a choice location for satellite operators and service providers. Many already manage regional businesses from Singapore, leveraging on the excellent connectivity, pro-business environment, and ready pool of high-quality talent from our infocomm industry. The group includes prominent companies such as SingTel, Inmarsat, Thuraya, SES, ArianeSpace, GeoEye and Spot Image, just to mention a few.
At only half the age of the aeronautical industry, the space industry presents many exciting opportunities to the world, and to Singapore. We hope that you will find Singapore a conducive place for business and innovation; and also a neutral platform to discuss the latest concepts, possibilities and solutions in the space domain. I hope that with today’s diverse participants from America, Europe, Russia, Australia and Asia, you would be able to find new opportunities and build new linkages through the Global Space and Technology Convention. With that, I wish you all a successful conference. Thank you.