The United States continues to dominate in the area of laboratory and scientific equipment and accounts for approximately 40% of total market share. Total imports of laboratory and scientific equipment decreased marginally in 2008. There was, however, an increase in laboratory and scientific equipment imported from the United States. Based on available trade figures for 2007, 2008 and market expectations for 2009, imports are not expected to grow due to the slowdown in the economy, particularly in sectors such as electronics, chemicals and petrochemicals. For the biomedical sciences sector, R&D spending amounted to US$4.4 billion in 2007 and is believed to be on track to hit the target of 3% of GDP by 2010.
Import of laboratory and scientific equipment from the United States grew by 27% in 2008 to US$1081 million. Regional economies have contributed to the demand for such equipment over the last two years due to growth in their respective economies. There is also a strong preference for American manufactured products and equipment, particularly in the field of laboratory equipment and instrumentation.
The areas that will see sustained demand for equipment are the biomedical sciences, particularly in research and development, product testing, certification, consulting and education services, environmental and water technologies, specialty chemicals, petroleum refining, petrochemicals, plastics and interactive and digital media. Several of these sectors attracted new investment fueled by the Singapore government’s development efforts over the last few years. With the global economy not expected to be strong, the challenge in the foreseeable future is to optimize the production at these facilities.
The Singapore government established the National Research Council to provide a national framework for strategic research and development efforts. The areas of focus are the biomedical sciences, environmental and water technologies and interactive media. In the area of life sciences, Singapore aims to promote itself to world-class research and development firms.
Two years ago, the government has announced that nearly US$1 billion will be pumped into the biomedical sciences sector over the next few years to boost healthcare standards and clinical research capabilities. In the area of environmental and water technologies, efforts are spurred by the need to diversify Singapore’s water resources. To date, the island state has successfully used innovative membrane technologies to produce clean water from both wastewater reclamation and seawater desalination. The US$1.3 billion development of the Jurong Island Petrochemical Complex also presents an attractive market for laboratory instrumentation vendors.