Singapore’s NRF forms membrane consortium to connect research with industry

The Singapore skyline. Image courtesy of 1989studio/
The Singapore skyline. Image courtesy of 1989studio/

The National Research Foundation Singapore (NRF) is setting up a membrane science and technology consortium to promote research, collaboration and commercialisation in membrane products and technologies.

The Singapore National Membrane Consortium (SG-MEM) will provide a platform for researchers, industry and government agencies to promote and access membrane technology.

SG-MEM will bring together the membrane R&D capabilities of Singapore’s public-sector universities and innovation centres including the Separation Technologies Applied Research and Translation (START) Centre, under Nanyang Technological University, Singapore’s innovation and enterprise arm NTUitive; the National University of Singapore’s Membrane Science and Technology Consortium (MSTC); NTU Singapore’s Singapore Membrane Technology Centre (SMTC), which is part of the Nanyang Environment and Water Research Institute (NEWRI); and Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s Environmental and Water Technology Centre of Innovation (EWTCOI).

The SG-MEM consortium will also work with Singapore-anchored industries, as well as government agencies including SPRING Singapore, the Economic Development Board (EDB), the Energy Market Authority (EMA), Singapore’s national water agency PUB and the National Environment Agency (NEA).

Shell, Sembcorp, Grundfos, Kurita-Singapore, Aquaporin-Asia, Ceraflo, De.mem, Blue Ocean Memtech, Marmon Product Development Center, Evoqua Water Technologies, SUEZ, Regentech, ECOSOFTT, UES Holdings and Tritech Group Ltd have already joined the SG-MEM consortium as founding members.

These companies will have access to world-class research laboratories and facilities located at the research institutes to manufacture, assemble and test membranes.

“Singapore has built a strong reputation as a leader in membrane technologies for water treatment,” said George Loh, director (Programmes) at NRF. “Our universities, NUS and NTU, are ranked top in membrane research, and they have developed advanced membrane technologies for water companies. The SG-MEM Consortium provides the platform for SMEs, which are not in the water sector, to have access to membrane technologies for applications in diverse sectors including food and beverages, fragrance, and medtech. This will help our SMEs benefit from the latest technologies to grow their business.”

Andreas Kroell, CEO of Singaporean-Australian water and wastewater treatment company De.mem, said: “SG-MEM brings together two sides of the medal in the membrane industry value chain: industry and research. Singapore is world-leading in both. From De.mem’s perspective, the ability to follow research, technology and innovation trends through this platform, combined with the strong support and drive of the Singapore government towards commercialisation, is a great asset. This is particularly important for a company like ours, which is growing quickly but still limited in terms of resources and manpower compared to larger MNCs (multinationals).”

SG-MEM will focus on five sectors with opportunities for the commercialisation of membrane technology: gas separation and purification in energy; concentration and purification of pharmaceutical ingredients; clarifying, concentration and purification of products in food and beverage; controlled drug-delivery systems; and energy-efficient treatment processes in the water sector.

The new consortium will be governed by a Steering Committee chaired by Dr Adil Dhalla, managing director of START, and a Technical Management Committee headed up by Professor Gary Amy, coordinator of the MSTC. Dr Dhalla and Professor Amy see SG-MEM as a vehicle to establish Singapore as a globally recognised membrane hub.

For further information, please contact Dr Adil Dhalla at