Business Times Singapore©2007 Singapore Press Holdings Limited
15 Nov 2007
SINGAPORE can act as the gateway to South-east Asia for Israeli companies as both countries have much in common, according to an official of the Israeli Embassy in Singapore.
Speaking to BT at the Israel Pavilion, part of the Enterprise Exchange exhibition at Suntec Convention Centre, Anat Katz, commercial attache at the Israeli embassy, said both countries are small nations and have no natural resources.
“Both nations have had to depend on their human capital for economic success,” Ms Katz noted.
The Enterprise Exchange exhibition is part of the Global Entrepolis @ Singapore (GES).
Ms Katz said that while Israel also has tie-ups with South Korea and Australia, Singapore provided some unique advantages to it in Asia. “There is no problem with language in Singapore, and with its central location in Asia it is easy to reach out to other countries in the region.”
Australia is so huge and far away that it is not a viable springboard to the rest of Asia, while in South Korea there are language issues, she added.
At this year’s GES, eight Israeli companies are exhibiting. They have been brought here under the Tnufa programme that is run out of the Office of the Chief Scientist in Israel, Ms Katz said. “Tnufa means momentum in Hebrew and its main goal is to give momentum to Israel’s best inventions,” she noted.
This is Tnufa’s third year at GES.
Ms Katz pointed out that Israel is the only country with which Singapore has a bi-national fund called Singapore-Israel Industrial R&D (SIIRD). The fund is jointly run by the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) and the Office of the Chief Scientist in Israel.
The fund focuses on commercial R&D ventures between companies of the two nations. To date, SIIRD has facilitated research investment for 70 projects worth an estimated US$73.4 million. It has facilitated the employment of 1,100 research scientists and engineers from both nations.
Chan Eng Chye, SIIRD’s general manager, said next year the fund will spend US$3 million to sponsor more joint R&D projects in areas such as clean technologies, alternative energies such as fuel cell and tidal power, telematics and digital media.