Electronics a cornerstone for S’pore’s economy with bright future

By The Straits Times Posted 5yr(s) ago Reading Time: A few minutes

Tiny parts made by Singapore’s electronics sector pack a huge punch: Almost half of the world’s data is stored on hard disk media made here.

The big companies are here, and more are likely to come.

“Singapore continues to attract new HQ, R&D and advanced manufacturing projects that add a diversity of good job opportunities in the industry,” says Economic Development Board director of electronics Terence Gan.

Electronics firms have committed $16 billion in fixed asset investments over the past three years. These are set to create 2,500 skilled jobs from this year to 2016.

The investments present opportunities for Singaporeans looking to shape the global electronics landscape, he adds.

For instance, Singapore’s electronics sector is a vital node in the design and manufacture of a variety of integrated circuit (IC) chips and parts, including processors, communication chips and power management chips, he says.

Processors, or microcontroller units, function as the “brain” of devices. As electronic devices shrink, these brains, designed by IC design engineers, have to become smaller too without losing performance or energy-efficiency.

Singapore now has a pool of about 1,300 IC design engineers. That is a figure that Mr Gan hopes to grow, including through opportunities in research institutes and government-supported schemes.

“IC design engineers have the power to design ICs that transform many dream products into reality, for example, small but powerful ICs for wearable electronic devices and energy-efficient ICs that reduce power consumption and enable flying droids to travel longer distances.”

Research opportunities include the Virtus IC Design Centre of Excellence at the Nanyang Technological University, for instance, which works with the industry to drive innovation.

The Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology, meanwhile, has partnered with the National Research Foundation to establish a research enterprise for low-energy electronic systems.

There are also opportunities in other areas, including microelectromechanical systems (Mems), the display sensors found in devices like the Sony Wii.

The Mems market is expected to grow at 13 percent a year over the next five years, reaching US$22.5 billion (S$28.2 billion) by 2018.

The world’s second largest Mems foundry, Globalfoundries, conducts R&D and makes Mems in Singapore.

Late last year, it announced a research collaboration with A*Star’s Institute of Microelectronics (IME) and Masdar Institute of Science and Technology to establish an R&D twin lab.

Then there is storage, imaging and printing. Key global players have a strong presence here and have been supported by institutes such as A*Star’s Data Storage Institute and IME, with ongoing research in storage, MEMs and bioelectronics, among other areas.

All this means Singapore is well placed to capture growth opportunities, says Mr Gan.

“The long-term outlook of Singapore’s electronics sector looks good.”

(This article was originally published in The Straits Times)

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