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Singapore: Why Good Science = Great Business for Australia, Singapore and ASEAN

Bruce Gosper, Australia's High Commissioner to Singapore

In September, our High Commission in Singapore held a festival promoting Australia's science and research capability and opportunities in ASEAN.

Photo of the Hon Karen Andrews MP looking into a microscope.
Australia's Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, the Hon Karen Andrews MP, at the launch of James Cook University's Tropical Futures Institute. Credit: Australian High Commission, Singapore.

Australia is internationally known for its landscape and lifestyle, but less well known for the excellence of our science, innovation and ingenuity. We have produced fifteen Nobel Laureates, eleven in science or medicine. Australian scientists are responsible for transformative innovations including the fast WLAN technology behind WiFi, polymer banknotes, hydrogen-fuelled transport, ultrasound scanners, the cochlear implant and life-saving vaccines, to name a few.

Australia punches above its weight in scientific achievement, discoveries and high-quality research. Our universities are world-class and – despite having only 0.3 per cent of the world's population – Australia contributed to over four per cent of world research publications in 2017. We wanted to share that story, and that's why we spent September promoting Australian science at the inaugural Good Science = Great Business 2018 Festival.

The aim of Good Science = Great Business 2018 was to bring top Australian and Singapore scientists, business leaders and innovative companies to Singapore to: showcase Australian science in Singapore; raise awareness of the opportunity in Singapore and ASEAN; and, provide a platform for Australian research institutions and businesses to begin to explore that opportunity.

Singapore was the right place for the inaugural Good Science = Great Business Festival. Singapore and Australia share a great friendship and a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. The Festival provided an opportunity for Australian research institutions and companies to take advantage of the tremendous things happening in Singapore on innovation: Singapore rose to fifth place in this year's Global Innovation Index; and is home to multinational corporations that invest heavily in innovation.

The Festival hosted around 4,000 people at 42 events including lectures, expert panels, and alumni networking. Topics ranged from a how-to briefing for researchers, to technology investment trends, healthcare and medtech, science communication, food security, innovation in logistics, space science, commercialisation, blockchain, 3D-printing, the Internet of Things, digital health, forensic science, sustainability in the Tropics, and nuclear science.

The Festival saw the launch of CSIRO's ASEAN Hub and The Australian National University's Southeast Asia Liaison Office in Singapore. James Cook University also launched its Tropical Futures Institute in Singapore, a first Australian research facility in Singapore. The sixth Australian Landing Pad cohort of Australian market-ready start-ups and scale-ups also commenced during the Festival.

CSIRO and Austrade supported Australian start-ups and research teams to visit Singapore for the Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology as part of the Festival. Austrade also joined with MTP Connect to bring a delegation of Australian medtech companies to Singapore.

The Festival culminated in a Gala Dinner on 27 September. This brought together around 400 representatives from science, business and government of both countries. Australia's Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, the Hon Karen Andrews MP and her Singaporean counterpart, Minister Heng Swee Keat, both spoke at Festival events emphasising Australia's commitment to engaging more with ASEAN countries on innovation, science and technology. Guests at the Festival's Gala Dinner also heard from Nobel Laureate and Vice-Chancellor of The Australian National University, Professor Brian Schmidt.

Women in Innovation was a key theme of the Festival. The Festival included a Women in Innovation Panel and networking event, the launch of a Women in Innovation network and the Festival's most popular social media featured women in STEM. We were very proud that the majority of the Festival's speakers were women working at senior levels in STEM. This included the brilliant astrophysicist, Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith, who was recently announced as Australia's Women in STEM Ambassador.

Looking ahead, for good science to equal great business, research will need to be about stronger cross-border collaboration. As Dr Larry Marshall, CSIRO's Chief Executive Officer said at the CSIRO ASEAN Hub launch, "If you want to travel fast, travel solo. If you want to travel far, travel together."

For more information about the Festival, contact Public-Affairs-SING@dfat.gov.au.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Last Updated: 10 January 2019
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