Agency for Science, Technology and Research - Singapore
Agency for Science, Technology and Research
Scientists at work at A*STAR’s SBIC, Singapore Bioimaging Consortium.
Representative Best Practices
- Managed through operations groups that drive accountability and allow for diversification of activities: These groups oversee distinct research or talent segments, allowing for specialization and expertise. A*STAR is broken into five operations groups:
- Biomedical Research Council (BMRC) – Manages public sector biomedical R&D activities and oversees over a dozen specialized research entities11
- Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC) – Coordinates public sector R&D in the physical sciences and engineering including chemicals, computational sciences, microelectronics, process manufacturing and metrology, among others12
- A*STAR Joint Council (A*JC) – Promotes research between the BMRC and SERC to capitalize on the advantages of interdisciplinary, collaborative innovation
- A*STAR Graduate Academy (A*GA) – Targets human capital development
- Exploit Technologies Pte Ltd (ETPL) – Focuses on commercialization to provide a smooth transition from research to commercialization through the formation of key relationships between industry and academia, creation of public-private partnerships, and promotion
- Strong research facilities and accessibility to high-performance computational resources: A*STAR’s centres are located in Fusionopolis and Biopolis, leading biomedical and engineering R&D hubs. These locations house state-of-the-art research facilities, including high-tech, capital-intensive equipment and capabilities, such as a visualization chamber allowing high-end 3-D visualization for product evaluation. Additionally, Fusionopolis houses the Computational Resource Center (A*CRC), which provides the entire A*STAR research community access to high-performance computational resources, such as advanced computers and sophisticated data storage.
- Incentives for innovation: The A*STAR Graduate Academy (A*GA) offers scholarships to students and scientific talent to prepare them for careers in R&D. A*STAR reports having supported and nurtured a pipeline of 1,000 local PhD talent since 2001.
Making an Impact
Since January 2002, A*STAR’s technology transfer arm, Exploit Technologies Pte Ltd, has:
- 3,500 active patents13
- Licensed over 400 A*STAR technologies which have generated over US$ 500 million in revenue14
- Spun off over 40 start-ups in industries like ICT, biotech, manufacturing, shipping, etc.15
- Researchers at the A*STAR institute of High Performance and Computing led by Teck Leong Tan developed a computing method to aid in discovering techniques to alter the atomic structure of a nanoparticle to bolster the performance of catalysts. Due to this discovery, researchers do not have to waste time trying to discover new combinations of bimetallic materials because they can simply adjust the structure of the existing nanoparticles for enhanced results. This more efficient, cost-effective process could mean increased popularity of fuel cells in energy systems, as fuel cell costs are largely driven by the high cost of catalysts.16
- A*STAR scientists have linked the enzyme telomerase to chronic inflammation, which can lead to human cancers.17 The discovery has a huge impact on the healthcare industry because developing drugs to target telomerase can potentially save the healthcare industry both time and money.
- A*STAR’s Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) and Cima NanoTech have signed an agreement to work on developing advancements for transparent conductive materials. If these enhancements are successful, it could lead to innovations for solar cells, touchscreen displays, flat panel TVS, etc.18
10 A*Star website.
11 A*Star website. Biomedical Research Institutes & Consortia.
13 Lee, Terrence. (2012) Singapore’s A*STAR has grand ambition to be at the center of Internet of Things. SGE, 28 November. Available at: http://sgentrepreneurs.com/2012/11/28/singapores-astar-has-grand-ambition-to-be-at-the-center-of-internet-of-things/
16 Hood, Tami. (2012) A*STAR targets nanoparticles and catalysts with new computing method. Hydrogen Fuel News, 12 November. Available at: http://www.hydrogenfuelnews.com/astar-targets-nanoparticles-and-catalysts-with-new-computing-method/856820/
17 Science Codex. (2012) A*STAR scientists identify potential drug target for inflammatory diseases including cancers. 21 November. Available at: http://www.sciencecodex.com/astar_scientists_identify_potential_drug_target_for_inflammatory_diseases_including_cancers-102502