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Scientific Cooperation

With a population of only 5.7 million inhabitants, Singapore is the main Asian financial hub and with a maximum degree of openness to trade, it represents the EU’s largest trading partner in South-East Asia. The Gross Domestic Product GDP (IMF 2023) amounted to approximately 521 billion USD ( 91 thousand USD per capita and fifth in the world per capita in terms of purchasing power ). The rapid socio-economic development is reflected in excellent competitiveness, as recorded by its fourth place in the world in the WEF Global Competitiveness Index , down from first, and in a high quality of life as recorded by its 12th place in the world in Human Development Index (HDI).

Singapore is increasingly characterizing itself as the point of reference for high technology such as electronics, information technology, telecommunications and biotechnology, where the Singapore government has made huge investments over the last twenty years. Singapore is one of the founding countries of ASEAN (the fifth largest economy in the world after the EU, USA, China and Japan). In 2018, Singapore had assumed the Chairmanship of ASEAN and adopted the slogan “resilience and innovation”. The ambition of the Singapore Presidency was to create a long-term network of “smart cities” within ASEAN and connect the hubs dedicated to innovation, promoting regional synergies. Linked to this project is that of cybersecurity. Singapore is also the second country in the world in terms of robotic density (around 7%) per worker in the manufacturing field. Important recent developments, also due to the consequences of Covid-19, are the increased attention for a more resilient, ecological and self-sufficient society. The recent 30by30 plans on agrifood and the GreenPlan 2030 fit into this perspective.  

Innovation Index : in GII-2023 it is in 5th place in the world . But it is always among the top 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) Infrastructures, (4 ) Market Sophistication and (5) Business Sophistication. Less competitive 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, in which it wins 10th place and (7) creativity output, in which it achieved the 18th position. It is a startup hub and is (according to the GENOME startup report) the eighth ecosystem in the world and among the first in the world in terms of connectivity and talent. It is the fifth most innovative city in the world, and it is the 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 (as a percentage of GDP) it is in 11th place in the world but first in the world in terms of investments in R&D per capita. In December 2020, the Singapore government approved the five-year plan 2021-2025 on Research, Innovation and Enterprise (RIE2025). This is the seventh five-year plan and provides for a total 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. A third of the investments will be dedicated to basic research and particular attention will be paid to developing talent for the growth and training of scientists and engineers. Innovation and Enterprise platforms and centers for technology transfer and the development of innovative products will also be strengthened, for example in the field of medical diagnostics or robotics. To deal with new research topics and new possible needs or opportunities that may emerge over the five-year period, almost a sixth of the resources are left with flexible allocation. A key element in all these sectors is the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI). In this regard, Singapore has just launched the Second National Plan on AI . Singapore’s growing interest in space technologies is also recent .

Number of Researchers : Singapore also ranks seventh in the world for the number of researchers in relation to its population with a growing increase in the number of PhD holders and with a continuously growing number of people employed in research and development activities .

Higher and University Education: Singapore is the first country in the world in mathematics, reading and science in the results of the latest PISA Test 2022 (Programme for International Student Assessment). Singapore represents one of the few countries in the world that has shown progressive improvements in PISA tests over the years. At university level, Nanyang Technological University ( NTU, 26th position in the world ) and the National University of Singapore ( NUS , eighth position ) are among the top 30 universities in the world in global rankings according to the QS2024 database . In particular, these universities are at the highest levels in the world in the fields of engineering and technology , energy , electronics , physics of materials and natural sciences . Other University they are the Singapore University of Technology and Design ( SUTD ), the Singapore Management University ( SMU ), the Singapore Institute of Technology ( SIT ), the Singapore University of Social Science ( SUSS ), the Management and Development Institute of Singapore ( MDIS ), the James Cook University ( JCU ), Murdoch University .

Research agencies : SNAS (Singapore National Academy of Science) promotes comprehensive partnerships with major international universities and research centers with a view to developing multi-disciplinary and multi-national research. A very important player in the scientific and technological field of Singapore is the A*STAR agency (Agency for Science. Technology And Research), the main funding agency for research with mainly applicative purposes, at the forefront in the biomedical, genetics, chemical and animal science fields. materials and which has numerous international collaborations. A*STAR is made up of 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, by the A*STAR Graduate Academy (A*GA) , which manages scholarships and coordinates inter-university collaboration programs, by the A*ccelerate which facilitates technology transfer to industry.

Research and Technological Innovation Centers : In Singapore there are many research and technological innovation centers in which public, private and university actors often converge in a synergistic manner. One of these is CREATE (Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise) of the NSF 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 which integrate public institutions, research bodies and private companies.

There are numerous synergies between Government, Research Institutions, Universities and the business world. For example, similarly to BLK71 in San Francisco, BLOCK71 is a place where NUS Enterprise, in collaboration with the telephone company Singtel and government companies, has favored the establishment of over 600 Incubators/Accelerators and technological 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 BLK71 to encourage similar virtuous collaborations. Also created in 2016, SGInnovate is an organization wholly owned by 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).

Singapore’s existing S&T relations with Italy

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