Becoming the next IP hub: How far Singapore has reached?

As per the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2019, Singapore is ranked second in the world and top in Asia for having the best IP protection. 

This report basically assessed the ability of countries to provide high levels of prosperity to their citizens. And, for evaluation, they considered various factors, one of them being Innovation capabilities. (Source)

The ranking was pretty impressive and we started wondering more about these attributes, especially Innovation capabilities. So we dug deeper and here’s what we found. 

Is Singapore really innovative? – We tried to find answers in its patents.

Does the patent filing in Singapore give a glimpse of its innovation capabilities?

The patent filing in Singapore has been consistent with minor variation each year for the last decade.

INPADOC Families Count

However, is it the same case with patent filings originating from Singapore? Turns out not.

Patents originating from Singapore

This curve depicts a very interesting point – Even though the overall patent publication trend seems to decrease, the no. of patents originating from Singapore have increased over the years (from 2015 to 2020).

This trend made us curious to explore further – what is happening in Singapore?

Innovations from around the world are protected in Singapore

09% of the total patents published in Singapore are by its Residents.

91% of the total patents published in Singapore are by Non-Residents.

43% of the total patents published in Singapore originated from the US.

16% of the total patents published in Singapore originated in Japan.

The following statistics detail the number of innovations originating from various countries and then getting protected in Singapore.

On further analysis, we found:

  • 91% of the patents published in Singapore aren’t of Singaporean origin. This indicates companies are considering Singapore with huge market potential for their products. Thus, to make the most out of their inventions, they filed for patent protection.
  • In comparison with the previous study, the patents originating from the US and getting protected in Singapore has decreased from 44238 (in the period 2009-14) to 39488 (in the period 2015-20), while the number of patents originating from Japan and getting protected in Singapore has increased from 12945 to 15231.
  • Almost 43% of the patents published in Singapore originated from the USA. The next largest contributor with a 16% share is Japan. Thus, 59% of patents in Singapore are filed by the USA and Japan-based entities.
  • Interestingly, on comparing the top contributors from the US and Japan that are filing patents in Singapore, we found that the top entities from the US operate in the semiconductor, and oil & gas sectors whereas top entities from Japan are from the semiconductor and machine manufacturing sector.

  • Further, as of now, Singapore based entities constitute only 9% of the total patents published in Singapore. However, this number is predicted to increase over a period of time with the various measures taken by the Singapore government. 

A few of these are as follows:

  1. The Singapore government offers various grants that provide funding for R&D and for patent filing.
  2. Not only this, under the sixth science and technology plan for Singapore – the RIE2020 Plan – the Singapore government committed $19 billion to research, innovation and enterprise, to take Singapore to the next stage of development. (Source, Source)

*Source: RIE 2020

We were now curious to check if this increased funding (for R&D and patent filing) by the government has impacted the patent filing interest of Singaporean entities in any way. For this, we first had a look at the top entities that have contributed the most in this 9% patents published in Singapore. We found that two out of the top 5 are foreign entities – Mastercard, and Halliburton. These companies also operate in Singapore. And, interestingly, the rest of the 3 top contributors are the government-backed research institutions – the Agency for Science, Technology & Research (A*STAR), National University of Singapore (NUS), and Nanyang Technological University (NTU). 

Following this, we started checking the year-wise trends of Singapore’s top patent filing universities.

Top Patent Filing Universities of Singapore and Major Collaborations

Noticeably, the Agency for Science, Technology, and Research (A-STAR) is the top-ranked Government and Research Institute of Singapore (based on publications during the period of 2015-20). It has formed major partnerships with Fujitsu, P&G, ARTC, GE Healthcare, L’Oréal, and Lloyd’s. Recently, STMicroelectronics has also collaborated with A*STAR to advance the adoption of piezoelectric MEMS in Singapore. (Source, Source)

We now wanted to know about the major collaborations of Singapore universities with other companies/universities.

Here is what we found: Singapore’s universities and research institutions have collaborated with global names like International Business Machines (IBM), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Huawei Technologies, etc. The images below contain more detail on the patent association formed as a result of these collaborations. 


Singapore Management University:

National University of Singapore:

Nanyang Technological University:

Note: We have represented major collaborations only.

This gets us to the end of the article. However, this is rather the start, as this article is the first in our series of articles covering our analysis on Singapore and its IP. 

Subscribe to us to get notified when the next part of the analysis – IPOS Performance over the years – goes live. If you’d like more information, feel free to reach out to us here.

Authored by: Ambuj, Sarvagya, Komal, Sushant Kumar, and Shikhar Sahni.

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