Singapore: Last week, at the 14th World Space and Technology Convention 2022 held in Singapore, the Singapore government announced that it is committing 150 million Singapore dollars ($110 million) to the space technology industry through research and development (R&D) funding.
The program will be overseen by the Office of Space Technology and Industry (OSTIn), the government office that oversees the country’s space industry, and the National Research Foundation. OSTIn was established in 2013 to help Singaporean companies develop internationally competitive capabilities in the space technology industry. The investment aims to improve space-related capabilities applicable to Singapore’s key industrial sectors such as aviation, maritime and sustainability by using this technology to enrich daily life.
For example, in improving the technology used for everyday applications such as Global Positioning Systems (GPS) that are crucial for ride-sharing services and tracking package delivery.
It is also expected that the program will help maintain Singapore’s position as a research and technology hub in emerging technologies and as an emerging hub for capital, talent and intellectual property.
The first call for grants that draws from this fund has already been launched in 2021 and concerns disruptive technologies for small satellites and the exploitation of satellite data and artificial intelligence. The submitted projects are currently being evaluated.
A second open call for grants will be launched in the second half of this year and will cover areas such as in-space manufacturing and in-orbit servicing and assembly.
As part of its space strategy, Singapore is focusing on building international partnerships to continue supporting local space technology companies. These partnerships help the country’s space technology companies expand into more mature space industries overseas and tap into stronger international experience.
On Wednesday, February 9, OSTIn renewed a cooperation agreement in the field of space technologies with the French Space Agency, signed for the first time in 2015. It also signed an agreement with the European Space Agency last October to collaborate on space technology applications and services in telecommunications and related fields. .
Among the projects benefiting from Singapore’s space program is a joint effort by Nanyang Technological University, National University of Singapore, ST Engineering, as well as domestic space startups Aliena and Lighthaus Photonics.
The project aims to build a microsatellite, which will fly in low Earth orbit and carry the first space camera designed in Singapore.
ST Engineering, which launched the first commercial Earth observation satellite made in Singapore in 2015, is now a market leader providing satellite communication systems to global customers such as Verizon, the American telecommunications giant.
Singapore’s space sector continues to grow rapidly and now has 50 companies employing over 1,800 professionals.
The international space industry is expected to reach $1 trillion in value by 2040.
In addition, Singapore Space and Technology Limited (SSTL), the organizer of the convention, is in the process of setting up a commercial fund, which would be the first Asian commercial fund dedicated to startups venturing into space research.
The commercial fund will be open to all space startups and startups in SSTL’s Space Accelerator program. Launched in 2020, the accelerator program provides support such as mentorships and fundraising assistance for space startups here and abroad. It now supports 37 companies from 17 countries such as Japan, Singapore and India.
SSTL signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) at the convention to form a trade corridor with the UK. This will make it easier for space startups from Singapore and the UK to partner for resources such as investment, expertise and even to test their products in these markets.
Speaking as the keynote speaker at the convention, Gan Kim Yong, Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry (MTI), said that MTI is “continuously forging partnerships with other space nations and creating a pipeline talent for the space sector”. He added, “We are also constantly looking for like-minded partners internationally, so that we can learn from each other and grow together.”
In the field of space technology, India is undoubtedly more advanced than Singapore. India’s initial foray into space began with the establishment of the Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR) in 1962. This was followed by the establishment of the Indian Space Research Organization, or ISRO, in 1969.
To date, according to the Make-In-India website, India has launched a total of 109 space missions, 77 launch missions, 10 student satellites, 2 re-entry missions and 319 foreign satellites.
The Indian space industry was valued at $7 billion in 2019 and aims to reach $50 billion by 2024. One of its most notable achievements is the interplanetary mission, Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), which in September 2019 has successfully completed 5 years in the orbit of Mars.
It would therefore not be surprising if, in the near future, India would somehow participate in Singapore’s space technology development program, given the close ties between the two countries.