SSIA has gone through a major transformation over the past two years to better serve and represent our industry. We have focused our initiatives around the framework of Electronics Industry Transformation Map, and at its core – we focus on helping companies drive productivity, help companies innovate their product and services, and continue to grow and retain our industry’s talent pool.
Innovation and R&D are key enablers for industry transformation and core to diversification. To advance a vibrant R&D ecosystem in Singapore through analysis and survey, SSIA has set up an R&D Committee since 2020. It is chaired by the SSIA Secretary, Jerome Tjia, also Head of Development Centre for Infineon Asia Pacific, comprising industry leaders from the semiconductor industry. The Committee looks into the current R&D landscape in Singapore and envisions what the future landscape would be.
Survey on R&D Activities in Singapore
In May 2020, a survey was conducted to understand the ecosystem and challenges in the R&D arena, with 15 companies responding. The survey showed that more than 90% of respondents had a presence in product R&D specializing in systems and software. The majority of the respondents said they had R&D presence in Singapore, yet most of their R&D activities were in South-East Asia, Europe and the US.
Most of them expected there will be an increase in R&D investment in the next 5 years, mainly due to the development of analog, power and RF technologies, expansion of scope, new technology requirements and regional focus. Besides, respondents were optimistic in forecasting even more investment in R&D beyond 5 years, mainly driven by the need to refresh their technology offering, their forecast for a bigger market, and a positive outlook on the macro view of the economy.
Pressing Factors for R&D
Regarding the most pressing factors for companies, they responded it was the high cost in Singapore, and this will drive the shift of their R&D activities to other lower-cost sites. Another concern from respondent on the lack of training/ talents in the R&D arena. There was also an obvious concern about not having sufficient talents to support the R&D sector growth in Singapore. That was why most respondents called for government support to help woo more future talents.
Government support that companies think would help facilitate their R&D development
Growing the R&D Talent Pool
To address the challenges of attracting talent, the SSIA R&D Committee has raised several suggestions to grow a Singapore-based R&D talent pool.
- Launch initiatives to promote career and opportunities in the semiconductor industry
- More student outreach to increase engagement with students
- Establish enticing engineering scholarships
- Companies to offer more attractive compensation
- To continue current traineeship programs for R&D talent pool
- Launch more industry technical training (e.g. IoT, 5G, USB, PCIe, etc)
- Offer Institutes of Higher Learning (IHL) continuing education and training, and specialized University-level R&D training program
- Supplementary key foreign talents will still be needed during the transition to increase local talent pool.
- Provide funding support to develop local talent and competency
Deeper Engagement with Universities and Research Institutes
- Establish KPI on industry relevancy and collaboration
- Incorporate more industry-relevant syllabus (e.g., Digital IP, SoC Verification and Test Development)
- Launch more Continuous Education Training (CET) and specialized R&D training program
The Committee has made necessary recommendations to the Board and government agencies based on the study. It will continue defining the support required to help grow the R&D landscape in Singapore.