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S&T Strategies of Six Countries: Implications for the United States
strong central leadership has proven to be effective, flexible, and insightful. Leaders are traditionally sent to the best educational institutions in the world to earn advanced degrees and to bring back knowledge to Singapore. As a disincentive for corruption, leaders are paid well and assessed strong penalties if found to be involved in corruption.
Singapore’s forward-looking government periodically assesses what areas should be the next to develop, and then attempts to address them. As a small country with a high level of governmental control, Singapore can successfully execute changes in its strategic direction. It is noteworthy that the government seeks international advice in the process of developing both strategy and tactics for economic development and corresponding S&T support.
NET ASSESSMENT OF S&T INVESTMENT STRATEGY
In 2006, Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry published an S&T strategy document that summarizes the nation’s broad plan for S&T advancement:
Singapore’s economic strategies must keep up with the changing global economic landscape. Singapore must continue its process of upgrading and renewal to ensure that it remains competitive in a global knowledge economy. It needs to develop its innovation capacity as a new, sustainable source of competitive advantage.
Given its strengths in science and mathematics, Singapore is naturally positioned to excel in S&T. To succeed, talent will be key. Singapore must become a global talent hub, attracting talent here by providing a vibrant environment and an open society that offer opportunities for communities of creative and talented people. (MTI, 2006)
Specifically, the areas that appear to be targeted for S&T support and technology transfer for economic development in the near future include water resources, control of infectious diseases, interactive and digital media, and biological engineering and science. Singapore has also declared that it aspires to be the education center of Asia, both to attract outstanding people who will stay in the country and also to bring income into the country. It has announced plans to open an elite university, which will have a much larger percentage of foreign students than the premier National University of Singapore. The new university will be focused around design for both engineering and architecture. Singapore has formed partnerships with universities from around the world to attract world-class academic scientists and engineers to work in its universities and research institutes.
In terms of military investment strategy, Singapore is dedicated to having a fifth-generation, highly networked force that is the best in the region. It aims to make it very costly for any country to attack it. Given how dependent Singapore is on the flow of goods via the maritime sea lanes, the country has invested in control of the sea lanes for some distance into the Straits of Singapore. All male residents of Singapore are required to serve in the military and then in the reserves.
The government of Singapore develops plans for S&T in five-year cycles, and the current plan (2006-2010) is nearing its conclusion. In comparison with its predecessor plan, the current plan almost tripled research and development (R&D) funding, raising it to S$13.9 billion (approximately U.S.$9.8 billion). At the onset of this plan, a high-level Research Innovation and Enterprise Council (RIEC), chaired by the prime minister, was formed to oversee national R&D policy. The RIEC has a three-part mission (Yeoh, 2010):
Catalyze new industries through strategic research programs
Expand research capacity to create new knowledge
Nurture innovation and entrepreneurship to exploit new knowledge
These goals are consistent with the point of view that innovation is crucial to Singapore’s ability to stay ahead of the lower-cost competition.
Singapore has established an impressive set of international panels for deciding on what research to fund. These panels have the attention of the government at the highest levels and ensure that the work is well supported and that the choices meet international standards. Indeed Singapore has embraced international input into its S&T development at all levels, and human capital has possibly made a greater impact than the financial support from global corporations. For example, in 2006 foreigners formed 30.9 percent of the total employment pool. Well-known scientists and engineers have been recruited to the research institutes, including Charles Zukoski, who