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Scientific Cooperation


Scientific Cooperation

With a population of only 5.7 million inhabitants, it is the main Asian financial hub and with a maximum degree of openness to trade, it is the EU's largest trading partner in South-East Asia. The GDP (IMF 2019) amounts to about 360 billion USD (65 thousand USD per capita and third in the world per capita for purchasing power) even if in 2019 there has been a significant growth slowdown attributed to international tensions. This slowdown was obviously greatly amplified by the crisis due to COVID-19 in the early months of 2020 which caused a severe recession. The very strong socio-economic development of the past years is reflected in an excellent competitiveness, as recorded by the first world place in the WEF Global Competitivness Index, and in a high quality of life as recorded by its 9th place worldwide in the Human Development Index ( HDI).

Singapore is increasingly becoming the reference point for high technology such as electronics, information technology, telecommunications and biotechnology, where the government of Singapore has made substantial investments over the past twenty years. Singapore is one of the founding countries of ASEAN (the fifth largest economy in the world after the EU, the USA, China and Japan) and which in 2014 hosted the 67th meeting of the ASEAN Committee on Science & Technology. In 2018 Singapore took over the ASEAN Presidency and adopted the slogan "resilence and innovation". The ambition of the Presidency of Singapore was to create in the long term a network of "smartcities" within ASEAN and to connect the poles dedicated to innovation by promoting regional synergies. The cybersecurity project is linked to this project. Singapore is also the second country in the world in terms of robotics density (about 7%) per worker in the manufacturing field.

Innovation Index: in GII-2019 it ranks 8th place worldwide, down by three positions compared to 2018. But it is always the first in the world in the Input Innovation sub-index which considers the 5 input pillars of the national economy that allow innovative activities: (1) Institutions, (2) Human capital and research, (3) Infrastructure, (4) Market sophistication, and (5) Corporate sophistication. Less competitive (15th in the world) is in the Output Innovation sub-index where the 2 pillars that produce concrete evidence of innovation output are considered: (6) knowledge and technology output and (7) creativity output. It is a startup hub, resulting (according to the GENOME startup report) the 14th ecosystem in the world (third Asian after Beijing and Shanghai) but in first and second place worldwide in terms of connectivity and talent. Sixth most innovative city in the world, and first in Asia (according to Bloomberg and Insead) with over 55,000 startups (source EDB).

Public and private investments in R&D: with 2.64% of investments in R&D (of GDP) it ranks 11th in the world but is the first in the world for its R&D investments per capita. In December 2020, the Government of Singapore approved the 2021-2025 five-year plan on Research, Innovation and Enterprise (RIE2025). This is the seventh five-year plan and provides for an overall public investment of SGD 25 billion (equal to approximately 1% of GDP), with a considerable increase of approximately 30% compared to the previous RIE2020 plan and over 10 times the first NTP1995 plan. Four strategic areas have been identified: Manufacturing, trade and connectivity; Human health; Urban solutions and environmental sustainability; Smart nation and digital economy. One third of the investments will be dedicated to basic research and particular attention will be devoted to the development of talent for the growth and training of scientists and engineers. Platforms and Innovation and Enterprise centers will also be enhanced for technology transfer and the development of innovative products, for example in the field of medical diagnostics or robotics. To address new research issues and new possible needs or opportunities that may emerge in the five-year period, almost one sixth of the resources is left with flexible allocation. A key element in all these sectors is the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Number of Researchers: Singapore is also in seventh place worldwide for the number of researchers in relation to its population with a steady increase in the number of Ph.D. holders and of the individuals employed in research and development activities.

Higher and University Education: Singapore is the second country in the world (after China) in the results of the last PISA test 2018 (Program for International Student Assessment) losing the first position reached in the pre-existing tests of 2012 and 2015. At the University level, the Nayang Technological University (NTU) and the National University of Singapore (NUS), in the world rankings, rank among the best 12 universities in the world according to QS2019 database. In particular, these universities are at the highest level in the world in the fields of engineering and technology, energy, electronics, physics of materials and natural sciences. Other universities are Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), Singapore Management University (SMU) and Management and Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS), James Cook University (JCU), Murdoch University, among a few others.

Research Agencies: SNAS (Singapore National Academy of Science), promotes full partnerships with the major international universities and research centers with a view to developing multi-disciplinary and multi-national research. A very important actor in the scientific and technological field of Singapore is the agency A*STAR (Agency for Science. Technology And Research), the main research funding agency with mainly application purposes, at the forefront in the biomedical, genetics, chemistry and materials science fields and which has numerous international collaborations. A * STAR is constituted by the Biomedical Research Council (BMRC), which through 10 Institutes supervises public research activities in the field of biomedical sciences, by the Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC), which through 9 Institutes and 4 national platforms is responsible for public research activities in the field of physics and engineering, from the A*STAR Graduate Academy (A*GA), which manages scholarships and coordinates inter-university collaboration programs, from the A*ccelerate which facilitates technology transfer to industry.   

Technological Research and Innovation Centers: In Singapore, there are many research and technological innovation centers in which public, private and university actors often converge synergistically. One of these is the NRF's CREATE (Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise) in which ten of the most prestigious foreign universities are involved (including MIT, ETH, TUM) as well as those of Singapore and which is dedicated to research sectors that translate into direct applications in economic and social benefits. Local universities, together with high-tech companies, have created University Corporate Labs and research infrastructures such as Biopolis in the biomedical field or Fusionopolis in the ICT field. 

There are numerous synergies between Government, Research Bodies, Universities and the business world. For example, similar to the BLK71 in San Francisco, the BLOCK71 is a place where NUS Enterprise, in collaboration with the Singtel telephone company and with government companies, has favored the establishment of over 600 Incubators / Accelerators and technology Startups in an ecosystem of 17 thousand square meters on 7 floors. The Singapore government has also recently rebuilt and renovated BLK 73 and BLK79 adjacent to the BLK71 to encourage such virtuous partnerships. Also in 2016 was created SGInnovate is a wholly owned organization of the Singapore government whose mission is to help entrepreneurial scientists build DeepTech startups. Many multinationals in the field of software, e-commerce, fintech, data handling have created Innovation centers in Singapore (Google, PayPal, Visa, Microsoft, IBM, Expedia, Oracle, Philips and many others).