Agency for Science, Technology and Research

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Agency for Science, Technology and Research
Logo of A*STAR.svg
Logo of the A*STAR
Agency overview
Preceding agency
  • National Science and Technology Board (NSTB), Singapore
JurisdictionGovernment of Singapore
Headquarters1 Fusionopolis Way, #20-10 Connexis, Singapore 138632
Agency executives
  • Lim Chuan Poh, Chairman
  • Dr Raj Thampuran, Managing Director
  • Mr Suresh Sachi, Deputy Managing Director (Corporate and Legal)
Parent agencyMinistry of Trade and Industry (Singapore)

The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (Abbreviation: A*STAR; Chinese: 新加坡科技研究局) is a statutory board under the Ministry of Trade and Industry of Singapore.

The agency supports R&D that is aligned to areas of competitive advantage and national needs for Singapore. These span the four technology domains of Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering (AME), Health and Biomedical Sciences (HBMS), Urban Solutions and Sustainability (USS), and Services and Digital Economy (SDE) set out under the nation's five-year R&D plan (RIE2020).[1]

The agency's research institutes are located mostly in Biopolis and Fusionopolis. The total strength of the A*STAR community, including scientists and researchers, technical and non-technical staff, and industry development and commercialization staff was 5,400.


A*STAR was established in 1991 with the primary mission to advance the economy and improve lives by growing the knowledge-intensive biomedical, research, scientific and engineering fields.[2] It was formerly known as the National Science and Technology Board (NSTB) until January 2002.

On 29 September 2003, A*STAR opened Biopolis, Singapore's hub for the biomedical sciences. A*STAR's biomedical research institutes and centres are located at Biopolis, along with other corporate research labs by companies such as Novartis, Danone, Abbott and Procter & Gamble. Over the years, the biomedical sector in Singapore has expanded in tandem with Biopolis. In 2000, the sector contributed 10 per cent to Singapore's manufacturing value-add. In April 2017, biomedical manufacturing was the second largest contributor to total manufacturing value-add at 19.6 per cent.[3]

Fusionopolis One was launched in October 2008, adding a second R&D hub on physical sciences and engineering. The opening of Fusionopolis came as Singapore recorded its highest Gross Domestic Expenditure in R&D (GERD) of S$6.3 billion at that time in 2007. The amount was an unprecedented increase of 26 per cent from the 2006 GERD, and double the amount of S$3 billion recorded in 2000.[4]

In October 2015, A*STAR opened Fusionopolis Two at the one-north precinct. Together with Fusionopolis One which was launched in 2008, the Fusionopolis cluster integrates all of A*STAR's science and engineering research capabilities and fosters close collaboration between the private and public sectors. The co-location of A*STAR's research institutes at Fusionopolis and Biopolis brings together researchers and industry partners to work closely on projects.[5]

A*STAR Entities[edit]

The agency is made up of:

  • The Biomedical Research Council (BMRC) – Oversees public sector research activities in the biomedical sciences
  • The Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC) – Oversees public sector research activities in the physical sciences & engineering
  • The A*STAR Graduate Academy (A*GA) – Administers science scholarships and fellowships, and coordinates collaborative programmes with universities
  • A*ccelerate Technologies Pte Ltd (A*ccelerate) – Manages the intellectual property created by research institutes in Singapore, and facilitates technology transfer to industry


The current chairman of A*STAR is Mr Lim Chuan Poh. He was formerly the Permanent Secretary (Education) and the Chief of Defence Force. Mr Lim took over the reins of A*STAR from Mr Philip Yeo, who later became Chairman of SPRING Singapore, on 1 April 2007.[6]

The A*STAR leadership also includes Dr Raj Thampuran, Mr Suresh Sachi, Dr Sydney Brenner, Prof Barry Halliwell, Prof Sir John O’Reilly, Prof Sir David Lane, Dr Benjamin Seet, Prof Tan Sze Wee, Mr Philip Lim and Prof Ng Huck Hui.

Research Entities[edit]

Biomedical Research Council

The Biomedical Research Council (BMRC) oversees research entities that serve to support key industry clusters in Biomedical Sciences, such as pharmaceuticals, medical technology, biotechnology and healthcare services.

The BMRC Research Institutes focus on building up core biomedical capabilities in the areas of bioprocessing; chemical synthesis; genomics and proteomics; molecular and cell biology; bioengineering and nanotechnology and computational biology.

The BMRC research entities include:

Science and Engineering Research Council

A*STAR's Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC) promotes public sector research and development in the physical sciences & engineering.

SERC manages research institutes and several centres and facilities with core competencies in a wide range of fields including communications, data storage, materials, chemicals, computational sciences, microelectronics, advanced manufacturing and metrology.

The SERC research entities include:

  • Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Centre (ARTC)
  • Institute of Chemical and Engineering Sciences (ICES)
  • Institute of High Performance Computing (IHPC)
  • Institute of Infocomm Research (I2R)
  • Institute of Microelectronics (IME)
  • Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE)
  • National Metrology Centre (NMC)
  • National Robotics Research and Development Programme Office
  • National Supercomputing Centre (NSCC)
  • Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech)
  • Singapore-Stanford Biodesign Programme (SSB)
  • Technology Centre for Offshore and Marine, Singapore Ltd (TCOMS)

Five of the SERC research institutes are located at Fusionopolis One and Two. These include: Institute of High Performance Computing (IHPC), Institute for Infocomm Research (I²R), Institute of Microelectronics (IME), Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) and Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech).

Industry Engagement[edit]

Between 2011 – 2015, A*STAR worked on 8,965 industry projects, almost six times that of the previous five-year tranche of 1,547. This has resulted in more than S$1.6 billion in industry R&D spending. A*STAR also signed 1,030 licensing agreements over the same period, of which 70 per cent were signed with local SMEs.[7]

By aligning its research with industry demand, the agency has seeded collaborations with multi-national companies such as Rolls-Royce, Applied Materials, Inc., Procter & Gamble (P&G) and Chugai Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.

In 2014, P&G opened its S$250 million Singapore Innovation Centre at Biopolis to support the company's product development in the areas of beauty, home care, as well as personal health and grooming, with research done here being incorporated into producing products for brands such as Pantene and SK-II.[8]

In October 2015, Applied Materials announced the opening of a new joint R&D laboratory with A*STAR. The five-year agreement included the opening of a S$150 million lab that would be located at Fusionopolis Two. The lab's research would focus primarily on developing advanced semiconductor technologies for use in future generations of logic and memory chips, found in smartphones and laptops. The collaboration with A*STAR marked the second time that Applied Materials has chosen to conduct product development and commercialisation activities outside its Santa Clara headquarters in the US.[9]

Future of Manufacturing[edit]

To prepare Singapore's manufacturing industry for the future economy, A*STAR outlined its Future of Manufacturing (FoM) roadmap and initiatives at the Committee of Supply Debate 2017.[10] Core to A*STAR's FoM strategy is the creation of public–private partnership (PPP) platforms that drive technology innovation, knowledge-transfer and adoption of advanced manufacturing processes. Three PPP platforms, namely Model Factory, Tech Depot and Tech Access were created to drive uptake of advanced manufacturing processes across different enterprise types.

A*STAR has implemented the Model Factory Initiative at two locations: ARTC and SIMTech. The Model Factory Initiative is an important platform for companies across the manufacturing value chain to learn about advanced manufacturing technologies, and harness innovation to reinvent or improve business models, for greater productivity and competitiveness.

The agency's Tech Access scheme would provide companies, particularly SMEs, access to A*STAR's base of advanced manufacturing facilities and training expertise to build capabilities in advanced manufacturing through the use of advanced machine tools, new processes, prototyping and testing. Another initiative, Tech Depot, offers SMEs a suite of easy-to-use technologies that can help them improve productivity. It would showcase ready-to-go (RTG) packaged solutions such as inventory-tracking, and business process automation systems.[11]

A*STAR's ARTC would jointly conduct manpower training sessions with consulting firm McKinsey & Company to groom talent for jobs in advanced manufacturing technologies. These sessions cover areas such as predictive maintenance, digitised performance management, procurement and supply chain.[12]

SIMTech also signed MOUs with the Trade Associations and Chambers, the Singapore Precision Engineering and Technology Association (SPETA), and the Singapore Manufacturing Federation (SMF), to provide their members with training to deepen their manufacturing capabilities for the Future Economy.[13]

Beyond Manufacturing[edit]

Food and Nutrition is an emerging sector in Singapore. One of Singapore's successes between 2011 and 2015 was in growing an R&D ecosystem for the F&N and consumer care sector. This has led to the creation of close to 1,000 new R&D jobs.[14] Leading nutrition companies such as Nestlé (Nestle Research Centre) and Danone (Nutricia Research) have either established new facilities or expanded existing ones in Biopolis, and are working closely with A*STAR to conduct R&D to develop healthier and safer products.[15]

A*STAR also aims to foster a robust medtech and biotech community by seeding the ecosystem with technologies and talent, and supporting local biotech start-ups.[16]

A*STAR's Diagnostics Development Hub (DxD) was launched in 2014 to cater to the fast growing demand for devices that would make it faster and easier for healthcare professionals to make quicker diagnosis and improve treatment outcome for patients. The hub would help transform innovations into clinically-validated diagnostic devices that are ready for market adoption.[17]

Singapore's first publicly-funded drug candidate, ETC-159, which was discovered and developed through a collaboration between A*STAR's Experimental Therapeutics Centre (ETC) and D3, and Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, advanced into Phase 1 clinical trials in July 2015. This drug targets a number of cancers, including colorectal, ovarian and pancreatic cancers, which contribute to a significant proportion of Singapore's cancer burden.[18]

A*STAR further announced that its second locally developed cancer drug, ETC-206, which targets blood cancers has advanced to first-in-man trials in 2016.[19] A*STAR would also be building a centre for large molecules, known as the Experimental Biologics Centre (EBC).[20]

In 2016, A*STAR's commercialisation arm, A*ccelerate (formerly ETPL) opened the first-of-its-kind “open innovation lab” and the incubator known as A*START Central with 10 medtech, biotech and Internet start-ups on board. It can support up to 25 start-ups with conducive infrastructure, mentorship, funding and access to business networks.[21]

Scientific Talent[edit]

Since the inception of the A*STAR scholarship programme in 2001, over 700 scholars have completed their PhD or post-doctoral education and are contributing to Singapore's R&D ecosystem in various ways.[22]

Some of the scholarships and attachment programmes run by A*GA are listed below:

  • A*STAR Undergraduate Scholarship (AUS)
  • National Science Scholarship (BS)
  • National Science Scholarship (PhD)
  • National Science Scholarship (MD-PhD)
  • National Science Scholarship (MBBS-PhD)
  • A*STAR Graduate Scholarship (Singapore)
  • A*STAR Graduate Scholarship (Post-Doc)
  • Singapore International Graduate Award (SINGA)
  • Singapore International Pre-Graduate Award (SIPGA)
  • A*STAR International Fellowship (AIF)
  • A*STAR-University of Warwick (AWP) EngD Partnership
  • A*STAR Research Attachment Programme (ARAP)
  • Research Attachment for Overseas Singaporeans (RAOS)


  1. ^ "Govt commits S$19b to new 5-year plan for R&D initiatives RIE2020". Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved 2017-06-16.
  2. ^ Singapore, National Library Board,. "Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) | Infopedia". Retrieved 2017-06-16.
  3. ^ "EDB Monthly Manufacturing Performance – April 2017" (PDF).
  4. ^ "Singapore opens Fusionopolis, its second major R&D hub in 5 years, as its R&D expenditure hits S$6.3 billion > Agency for Science Technology and Research (A*STAR)". Retrieved 2017-06-16.
  5. ^ "Fusionopolis Two to boost collaboration between private, public sectors". Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved 2017-06-16.
  6. ^ Chang Ai-Lien, "S'pore's science salesman turns sights on SMEs", The Straits Times, 21 October 2006
  7. ^ Choudhury, Amit Roy. "A*Star surpasses 5-year targets; industry R&D spend exceeds S$1.6b". The Business Times. Retrieved 2017-06-16.
  8. ^ "News - 2014 - P&G opens $250 million Innovation Centre". Singapore Economic Development Board - Investing Business in Singapore. Retrieved 2017-06-16.
  9. ^ "Applied Materials, A*STAR to set up S$150m R&D lab". Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved 2017-06-16.
  10. ^ "MTI Committee of Supply 2017: Building capabilities for the future".
  11. ^ Choudhury, Amit Roy. "A*Star to set up two model plants as test beds for new tech and innovation (Amended)". The Business Times. Retrieved 2017-06-19.
  12. ^ "New McKinsey centre aims to groom talent in advanced technologies". TODAYonline. Retrieved 2017-06-19.
  13. ^ "New initiatives launched for precision engineering sector". Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved 2017-06-19.
  14. ^ Choudhury, Amit Roy. "A*Star to set up two model plants as test beds for new tech and innovation (Amended)". The Business Times. Retrieved 2017-06-19.
  15. ^ hermesauto (2016-04-01). "New Nestle research centre in Singapore to focus on nutrition for healthy ageing". The Straits Times. Retrieved 2017-06-19.
  16. ^ Cheok, Jacquelyn. "A*Star to launch Singapore's first open innovation lab". The Business Times. Retrieved 2017-06-19.
  17. ^ Huang, Claire. "New diagnostics development hub launched to improve healthcare treatment outcomes". The Business Times. Retrieved 2017-06-19.
  18. ^ "Made-in-Singapore cancer drug advances to clinical trials on humans". Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved 2017-06-19.
  19. ^ hermesauto (2017-03-09). "Made-in-Singapore drug for blood cancer to be tested". The Straits Times. Retrieved 2017-06-19.
  20. ^ Cheok, Jacquelyn. "A*Star to undergo major restructuring". The Business Times. Retrieved 2017-06-19.
  21. ^ Cheok, Jacquelyn. "A*Star to launch Singapore's first open innovation lab". The Business Times. Retrieved 2017-06-19.
  22. ^ "Speech by Minister For Health, Mr Gan Kim Yong, at the A*STAR Scholarship Award Ceremony on 10 July 2017, 3pm, Level 2 Auditorium, Matrix, Biopolis > Agency for Science Technology and Research (A*STAR)". Retrieved 2017-07-12.

External links[edit]