3 years ago:
Our elites are very good at thinking up new bets, it is called helicopter vision. I particularly like the bet on Biotech because it took courage and vision to tell thousands of students to switch to life sciences and spend billions in tax payers money. Biotech took alot of courage ....why? Because Singapore had no comparative advantage in this area at all. Many Biotech companies have been around for decades in the US and they are finding the going very tough because of generic drugs, and the fact they have to now struggle to discover drugs for diseases that affect fewer people(orphan drugs). Even a blockbuster like Viagra has 3 competitiors. US has a large population base, numerous hospitals with patient data on diseases and a critical mass of R&D personel to tap on. Singapore had none of these yet we wanted to take on the Americans. This is because our elites had enormous faith in the ability of Singaporeans to go into this area.
The first step is to spend of millions - on buildings and big name researchers to get this whole thing started. After that using Singaporean tax payers money to fund numerous research projects. Then we train the Singaporeans students to wash test tubes. The next step is critical with all these things set up we now try to attract big biotech firms to set up R&D here, because they like operating in the US we have to offer them incentives to come. A few of them did come to hire the foreign talents and have Singaporeans wash the test tubes. Somehow, this whole setup will benefit Singaporeans because of huge number of test tubes that need to be washed.
So did we win the Biotech bet? .....The PAP govt never loses at anything!! No matter what happens we still have the casino, water research, digital media and hubs to keep us going.