Mr Jonathan Hung, President, Singapore Space and Technology Association,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am pleased to join you at this Convention, and to see so many representatives from the space community participating in the 7th Global Space Technology Convention (GSTC). Your presence today reflects the strong and sustained interest in the growing satellite industry in Singapore, as well as the new wave of global interest in space.
Rapid growth of the space industry in Singapore
Singapore’s efforts to foster the growth of the space industry commenced with the formation of the Office for Space Technology and Industry (OSTIn) in February 2013. The industry has seen good growth over the past two years. Today, it comprises over 30 companies, of which two-thirds are local enterprises. Together, these companies employ more than 1000 professionals who are engaged in a wide range of activities – from the design and manufacture of space components to the provision of satellite-based services.
In the past year alone, we have witnessed some significant developments. First, it was the opening of ST Electronics’ Satellite Systems Centre, the first fully integrated centre in Singapore equipped with state-of-the-art facilities for design, testing and simulation of satellite equipment. This centre enhanced ST’s capacity to meet the growing global demand for small satellites by enabling the concurrent production of multiple small satellites.
Second, a growing number of established international companies have chosen Singapore as their partner to develop satellite solutions and serve the growing Asian market. For example, Twenty First Century Aerospace Technology (21AT), one of China’s largest private Earth Observation companies, recently opened its integrated services hub in Singapore. Through this facility, the company plans to offer the region value-added services in precision agriculture, environmental monitoring, and urban planning. Another example is Eutelsat, the third largest Communications satellite operator in the world by revenue, which has chosen to establish its APAC Headquarters in Singapore to cater to the growing demand for satellite connectivity services in Asia.
Third, Singapore has also seen strong interest from innovative and entrepreneurial satellite start-ups keen to tap on Singapore’s innovation ecosystem to offer disruptive solutions to the space industry. Spire, a Silicon Valley start-up, aims to use off-the-shelf technology to design and launch a constellation of 50 to 70 low-cost satellites to achieve global coverage and provide services in maritime surveillance and weather monitoring. Backed by a strong base of US technology venture capitalists, Spire has established a fully integrated satellite R&D, manufacturing, and analytics hub in Singapore that will undertake blueprint-to-production activities for their next generation of satellites. Beyond this, I am pleased to hear that Spire will be signing a MoU later today with A*STAR’s Institute for Infocomm Research (I2R), to jointly develop nano-satellite technologies locally. More details on this R&D collaboration will be announced by Spire and I2R subsequently.
Developing our R&D capabilities and local ecosystem to support this growing industry
As the satellite industry is knowledge- and innovation-intensive, the Government will continue our efforts to build local capabilities to support future growth.
On the R&D front, OSTIn launched its second open thematic R&D grant call last October, to seek out innovative technologies that support the needs of Singapore’s space industry. I am pleased to note that there have been 48 proposals in response to this grant call.
To complement the open grant calls, which typically focus on specific technologies or components, OSTIn has also been investing in mission-based R&D projects, spanning design and integration to testing and operation of satellites. These projects enable researchers and participating students to cultivate a broader systems approach, and to build holistic expertise in space systems and mission design. More importantly, they create opportunities for the in-orbit testing and qualification of new satellite technologies, which are important pathways to commercialise home-grown technologies. I look forward to the launch later this year of four such projects, two each from NTU and NUS. These upcoming satellite launches include the 50kg Hyperspectral Imaging satellite by NUS and the 100kg weather monitoring satellite by NTU that I mentioned at last year’s conference.
Beyond individual projects, OSTIn has sought to build and deepen our institutional capabilities by facilitating longer-term research partnerships between the industry and our local research institutions. This is exemplified by the expansion of NTU’s Satellite Research Centre (SaRC) and the opening of the Thales-NTU joint lab, S4TIN yesterday. Through this joint lab, Thales, a global leader in the space industry, will develop systems and payloads for small satellites together with NTU. These activities will be carried out in tandem with Thales’ newly established small satellite Centre of Excellence in Singapore, the first of its kind in Asia. Joint-labs such as these will help to entrench deep industry-relevant capabilities within our public R&D institutions, and nurture a strong pipeline of satellite talent and engineers for the industry.
Through these capability development efforts, Singapore today has more than 100 public researchers working on space-related projects in partnership with industry. In fact, the presence of this critical mass of researchers was a key factor behind the inaugural Singapore Space Symposium in August last year, to facilitate learning and collaboration across the public and industry research community. And, we expect the number of researchers involved to grow as we continue to build up our public sector R&D capabilities in space technology.
Apart from government support for R&D, it is equally important that key industry players collaborate to build up the local ecosystem. I am therefore heartened to hear that ST Electronics has been working closely with local companies on the engineering of space components and subsystems. Such collaboration has enabled local companies such as Wizlogix, Loop Electronics and Fong’s Engineering to improve their design capabilities and produce space-qualified components. I encourage other leading industry players, especially those who are new to Singapore, to follow ST Electronics’ lead in exploring collaborations with our local companies. And, we have a strong ecosystem to support our precision engineering, electronics and aerospace industries with quality components.
Growing partnerships with the global space community
In parallel with the developments in Singapore’s industry and R&D landscape, we have also been building bridges with other government agencies as we become a more active member of the global space community. Last February, OSTIn worked with the UK Space Agency (UKSA) to hold the UK-Singapore Satellite R&D Seminar, which forged connections between the UK and Singapore research communities. OSTIn also organised the Singapore-China Space Technologies seminar with the China National Space Administration (CNSA) last May. These platforms, like GSTC, allow the community to keep abreast of state-of-the-art space technologies, which will be invaluable in stimulating their own R&D. They will also build international networks which can support synergistic projects that play to the respective strengths of collaborators.
There will be more of such international collaborations going forward. I understand that NUS, through its Centre for Remote Imaging, Sensing, and Processing (CRISP), will be signing a data-sharing agreement later today with the China Centre for Resources Satellite Data and Application (CRESDA) for the downlink and distribution of satellite data from the 4th China-Brazil Earth Resources (CBERs-4) satellite. This data will be made available to public research institutions in Singapore for the advancement of research in satellite imagery and applications. This is well aligned with OSTIn’s vision for Singapore to become a satellite data hub and to enable the proliferation of satellite applications. This agreement marks a promising start for more partnerships between Singapore and other international players in this field. We will continue to build on these connections to support the growth of the global satellite industry.
We have made significant progress over the last year in building up the space industry in Singapore. This year promises to be at least as exciting. Besides the launch of the four R&D satellites by NUS and NTU, we will be launching our first Singapore-built commercial satellite, TeLEOS-1. As Singapore celebrates 50 years of independence, this launch is a fitting event that marks our development as an innovation-driven economy.
I would like to thank all of you for being a part of this exciting journey to build the satellite industry in Singapore, and I wish everyone a very engaging and productive conference over the next two days.