Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Singapore is making good progress in research and development, and investment in R&D is necessary as it is a long and uncertain process. Speaking at the launch of the Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise (CREATE), Mr Lee said R&D products contributed more than $10 billion to the economy in 2010.
He said this is also one reason the R&D budget for 2011 to 2015 was raised to $16 billion – a 20 per cent increase over the previous five-year period – despite the economic downturn.
Ten renowned global universities came together to set up CREATE, a research centre in Singapore and the first of its kind in the world. The universities include the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Mr Lee said the research centre is Singapore’s latest effort to enhance research and development here.
He said CREATE has attracted many foreign scientists, but the objective is not for them to do R&D in Singapore as standalone entities.
Mr Lee said: “We want to be something more than just a hotel for R&D or a pop-up lab. We would like the activities and the people we attract here to integrate into our larger R&D eco-system, to build partnerships with the local institutions and researchers and gradually to create a deep-rooted, vibrant R&D centre in Singapore.
“We need to develop our own capabilities to achieve this, to achieve this rooting and indigenisation of the whole activity. We need to nurture a pipeline of scholars, groom Singaporeans for leadership positions in research institutes and foster the collaboration and mutual understanding and trust, which will enable the whole system to grow and to prosper over time and ensure that CREATE will contribute to this goal and in due course in the fullness of time, we will reap the full benefits of our investments in R&D.”
He said this environment encourages cross-fertilisation of ideas through partnerships from which multi-disciplinary projects will emerge.
More researches are now incubating at the new research campus CREATE.
Soon, one may be able to make a booking through a smartphone app for an automated vehicle to pick you up and drop you off where you want.
It is the brainchild of researchers from Singapore and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, National University of Singapore (NUS) and DSO National Laboratories.
Some examples of other projects include electric vehicles developed by the Technical University of Munich and the Nanyang Technological University, as well as energy-efficient and lower carbon building designs by the University of California-Berkeley, NUS and NTU.
Researchers from the top universities from the US, Europe and Asia are also collaborating on multi-disciplinary projects related to infectious diseases and urban management.
Professor Low Teck Seng, CEO of National Research Foundation, said: “There are natural synergies that we need to capitalise on, and this starts by first getting our scientists to be familiar with what each other is working on and what are the strengths we have in the various organisations.
“This requires a lot of effort in bringing people together and to create that collegiality among scientists. And then I think naturally the collaborations will flow.
“The work that’s already starting to come out from this partnership, it is very, very exciting. They have relevance to Singapore, it’s got relevance to issues we face in Asia, and they are also relevant in terms of some of the global challenges that we see.”