Singapore Seeks to Repeat Biomedical Success in Space Industry

Singapore, which is planning to send a citizen into space in 2015, said it hopes its foray into space technology will become as important a growth driver as its biomedical industry.

The country can leverage its electronics sector to help develop a satellite industry, Ow Foong Pheng, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, told reporters today. The biomedical industry overtook electronics last year as the biggest contributor to manufacturing, a government report today showed.

Singapore has lifted a decades-old ban on casinos and promoted industries such as pharmaceutical manufacturing, biotechnology research and wealth management to reduce the economy’s reliance on electronics exports. The government said yesterday it has set up an Office for Space Technology and Industry to oversee the sector’s development as it seeks a share of the $290 billion global space market.

“We see an opportunity in the satellites industry cluster, riding mainly on our established capabilities that we have in the electronics integration, certain strengths that we have,” Ow said. “It would be good if it grows” to what the biomedical industry has become for Singapore, she said.

Biomedical output rose almost four-fold last decade, to S$23.3 billion ($19 billion) in 2010 from S$6 billion in 2000, according to the Economic Development Board. Since 2001, dozens of foreign drug makers and biomedical companies, including GlaxoSmithKline Plc, Novartis AG and Pfizer Inc., have set up factories in Singapore. The industry made up 25.5 percent of manufacturing last year, overtaking electronics at 25 percent.

“The growth of Singapore’s space industry will generate positive spillovers to other existing industries in Singapore,” S. Iswaran, second minister of trade, said yesterday. “Industries such as transport engineering, precision engineering, electronics and info communications and media could benefit from this growth.”

Singapore is planning a space flight with one of its citizens piloting a vessel 20 kilometers above earth on its National Day on Aug. 9, 2015, the Straits Times newspaper reported today.

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