Fusionopolis R&D hub drawing Japanese to Singapore

by Siti Rahil

Kyodo News

SINGAPORE — Singapore’s latest push to become an Asian center for research and development by pumping millions of dollars into state-of-the-art infrastructure and opening its doors to foreign talent is already attracting Japanese firms.

So far three Japanese firms have set up operations at the wealthy city-state’s second research and development complex, Fusionopolis, since it opened in October.

Dubbed Singapore’s science and technology powerhouse, it is focusing on research in “infocomm” technology, physical sciences and engineering.

About 1 km away is Biopolis, focusing on biomedical research, which opened in 2003.

Both are part of a sprawling development called One-North that promotes research and development in Singapore in the 21st century.

Fusionopolis is being built in six phases on 30 hectares. The futuristic two-tower complex of the first phase was completed last month, but the second phase is only expected to be ready in 2012.

The three Japanese companies that have set up there are Panasonic Electric Works Asia Pacific PTE, a subsidiary of Panasonic Electric Works Ltd., Seiko Instruments Inc. and Nitto Denko Corp., said Nur Sahara, a spokeswoman for Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research.

Nitto Denko has opened its Asia technical center at the complex, where it will conduct research into organic electronics, a new offshoot of the electronics industry, company officials said.

Singapore is its fourth global R&D site after Japan, the United States and a facility in Europe, they said.

The Osaka-based company plans to invest 10 million Singapore dollars ($6.6 million) over the next three years to conduct research in collaboration with local research institutions.

One of its initial projects is developing a sensory device for the health care industry that could be commercialized in about five years to cater to expected strong demand for such products due to an aging society in many developed countries.

Yasuo Ninomiya, Nitto Denko’s chief technology officer, said the company chose Singapore due to the availability of a “pool of local and foreign talent to tap, a strong R&D infrastructure and intellectual property laws.”

As for the other two Japanese companies, Panasonic Labs will be conducting research into new technology for energy systems while Seiko Instruments is looking at data storage and microelectronics.

The three are among 13 companies that have set up operations at the complex, which also houses several Singapore state-run research institutes.