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Singapore prime minister stresses design

Posted: 28 Sep 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:flat-panel displays? oled? ic design?

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that the city state will boost its R&D investments in technology and urged domestic companies to step up their efforts in design to remain competitive.

In a speech to kick off the Global Entrepolis Singapore conference here, Lee said Singapore must continue to move up the food chain and expand into more value-added sectors, such as nanotechnology and alternative energy. Wafer fabs and chip design are also among those value-added sectors.

"We will step up our R&D investments over the next five years and collaborate closely with the industry to make sure our R&D efforts are productive and yield commercial dividends," Lee said in the speech.

"To continue growing and prospering, we cannot depend solely on the lowest cost," Lee said. "Manufacturing will continue to be a major pillar of our economy. However, we must be more than a maker of products designed by others. We must couple manufacturing with R&D, so that we create value through innovation, and become a global leader in niche areas."

Despite this city-state's loss of some manufacturing operations to cheaper destinations such as China and Malaysia, officials and analysts also insist Singapore can still count on its skilled workforce, first-rate infrastructure and pro-business policies to maintain its status as an Asian electronics hub (see Sept. 16 story).

And despite a slight drop in its electronics sector, Singapore's total manufacturing output rose by 11.8 percent in August, compared to the like period a year ago, according to the Economic Development Board (EDB) (see Sept. 26 story).

"Manufacturing has been increasing [in Singapore] for the last 10 years," said Ko Kheng Hwa, managing director of Singapore's EDB at a press event on Monday, "but low-end manufacturing will continue to move out of Singapore. It will go to China, Vietnam and the Philippines."

The key is to move up the food chain and develop new electronics industries in the city state, including flat-panel displays, OLEDs, IC design, and others, he said.

One sector is especially critical to bridge the design-to-manufacturing gap. Singapore itself has 40 IC design houses. "We are growing in IC design," he said.

Singapore also boasts 14 wafer fabs, including two 300mm plants. Singapore's Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing Pte. Ltd is ramping up a 300mm fab here, while Taiwan's United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC) set up a 300mm plant in the city state some time ago.

- Mark LaPedus

EE Times

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