25 Mar 2016

The Business Times

By LEE MEIXIAN

THE government on Thursday launched a "next-generation" industrial park of the future called the Jurong Innovation District (JID), in line with its strategy to drive growth through innovation.

This district will house learning, research, innovation and production activities together.

Details were scarce, and are likely to be be fleshed out in the Committee of Supply debate next month. But Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat showed a dazzling video that said the district will integrate residential spaces with learning spaces and spaces to build and create. It will house researchers, students, innovators and businesses in a "campus of ideas" that facilitates interaction.

The district will integrate Nanyang Technological University with the surrounding areas. Companies will house research and development and prototyping labs, advanced manufacturing and robotics, and maker's spaces there. The district will be Singapore's largest living lab, enabling testing and development of future technologies such as self-driving vehicles, smart robots, and assistive technologies.

JTC is also building a start-up space, Launchpad @ JID, targeted for completion in 2017. This comes on top of JTC LaunchPad @ one-north which is already operational.

In parallel, the government will be building Jurong Innovation District progressively, with the first phase targeted for completion around 2022.

Industry watchers say the government seems to be aspiring to develop a "Silicon Valley" in Jurong to attract regional and international technological and creative companies and talent.

Lee Seng Chee, capital projects & infrastructure partner, PwC Singapore, said this is an ambitious project in terms of capital cost and land size.

There are indications that even the design aspects of the district will be highly innovative, including possible underground routes going from Tuas to Jurong for logistics purposes.

JLL head of research for Singapore Tay Huey Ying said as the development of JID takes shape, demand for real estate ranging from homes, offices, retail, hospitality and industrial is likely to increase. Prices of homes in the area will also rise.

"Potentially, the Government Land Sales programme might soon start to incorporate land parcels in and around JID to kick-start the transformation," she said.

Mr Heng said it is significant that Jurong was picked to house this new growth driver, because some 50 years ago, it also went though another transformation: from swamp land into a thriving manufacturing hub, which at that time was powering Singapore's economic growth.

The Jurong area is bustling with future development plans. The Singapore terminus of the high-speed rail link with Malaysia is expected to be where Jurong Country Club now sits.

The government also has plans to combine several gardens and build a new Science Centre. Jurong has been dubbed a "second CBD" for Singapore, especially after the terminus and new MRT lines are up and running.

In his speech, Mr Heng also said that he will top up S$1 billion to the Changi Airport Development Fund, as part of a move to invest in infrastructure for the future, such as the Changi Airport Terminal 5. This is on top of an initial sum of S$3 billion already in the fund.


KEY POINTS

  • Plans for a Jurong Innovation District announced
  • S$1 billion top-up to Changi Airport Development Fund

MORE REPORTS: Singapore Budget 2016

Source: The Business Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission