DPM Heng Swee Keat at the Global Young Scientists Summit 10th Anniversary Event

DPM Heng Swee Keat | 17 January 2022

Speech by Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies Heng Swee Keat at the Global Young Scientists Summit 10th Anniversary Event on 17 January 2022.

 

Dr Tony Tan, Patron of the GYSS

Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good evening.

A very warm welcome to the Global Young Scientists Summit 10th Anniversary event. It is good to see all of you here in person, many of whom have a personal connection to the Summit.  

The Summit 

The Global Young Scientists Summit, or GYSS, has come a long way since its first edition in 2013. As we saw in the video earlier, inspired by then NRF chairman Dr Tony Tan’s visit to the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in 2010, we decided to organise a forum for global young scientists to gather in Singapore.  

Each year, the Summit gathers a few hundred of the most promising scientists from around the world in Singapore. We hope to inspire them to explore ways to collaborate with one another to create a better future for the world.  

We invited distinguished scientists from around the world to engage these young minds. Many eminent professors have responded to our call, including Nobel Laureates in the sciences, Fields Medalists, and winners of the Millennium Technology Prize and Turing Award. 

The GYSS embodies our core belief that by encouraging everyone to work together, we can better advance science and technology to create new opportunities and to address our global challenges.

Within Singapore, we have a strong partnership between the different stakeholders in our R&D eco-system – across academia, industry, and government agencies. 

Beyond our shores, we have been developing international partnership in our Research, Innovation & Enterprise – or RIE – journey right from the beginning.   

CREATE – which stands for the “Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise” – is our international research collaboratory. 

Through CREATE, we partner leading global universities and research institutions to tackle common priorities. 

The GYSS is an important flagship event on our RIE international calendar. Due to COVID-19, we have not been able to gather physically. But by going virtual, we have been able to reach out to a larger community of young scientists. Instead of an annual physical audience of 300 people, we have over 800 aspiring researchers and scientists participating virtually this year.

The Participants

Over the past decade, nearly 4,000 participants from around 50 countries have taken part in the GYSS. Many have gone on to carve out a distinguished career for themselves. I hope that the GYSS alumni will go on to inspire current and future participants. Let me cite four examples. 

Dr Lynette Cheah attended the inaugural GYSS as a postdoctoral research associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She is now an Associate Professor at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD). Lynette’s research on adaptive urban transport serves to optimise our logistics networks, at a time when home deliveries have become a regular feature of life during the pandemic.

For Dr Sebastian Steinhorst, who also attended the inaugural edition, the GYSS gave him new perspectives as a fresh PhD graduate from Germany. Today, Sebastian is an Associate Professor at the Technical University of Munich, and is also a Co-Programme PI at the TUM-CREATE research centre in Singapore. Sebastian’s research explores how we can enhance trust in blockchain technologies deployed in finance.

Dr Canan DaÄźdeviren, a materials scientist from Turkey, also attended the second edition of the GYSS as a doctoral student from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Canan is now an Assistant Professor at the MIT Media Lab. Her research helps patients with neurological conditions communicate more easily through sensor tracking of their facial and eye movements.

For Dr Andy Tay, the fourth GYSS was the first international conference he attended as a PhD student at the National University of Singapore (NUS). The conference inspired him, and Andy has gone on to become a Presidential Young Professor at NUS. He develops techniques to identify cancer marker proteins in solid tumours, improve cell manufacturing, and modulate the micro- environments in tumours.

Imagine the impact that these four scientists have made, and multiply that a thousand times over. This is the collective impact of the GYSS over the past decade.

The Contributors

The GYSS succeeded in inspiring a new generation of scientists because of the generous contributions of many eminent scientists. They set aside precious time to share their experiences with our young scientists.

I am happy to learn that Professor Ada Yonath has attended every edition of GYSS since its inception. Professor Cédric Villani and Professor Aaron Ciechanover, were with us at the inaugural edition, are also taking part in the 10th edition.

I thank all our distinguished scientists – past and present – for generously sharing their time and expertise to nurture younger scientists. I look forward to your continued support for future editions of the Summit.

In fact, several of them have gone over and beyond to contribute to Singapore’s wider R&D eco-system. One of them is Professor Ciechanover.

He not only took part in 8 editions of the GYSS, we are also grateful for his contributions to the NRF Scientific Advisory Board, as well as the NRF Fellowship and Investigatorship selection panels.

I recently presented the second Sydney Brenner Memorial Award to Professor Ciechanover for his contributions to advancing research globally and in Singapore.

I recalled fondly the many conversations I had with our distinguished scientists at the GYSS welcome dinner in early 2020, just before COVID-19 struck. When the situation permits, we look forward to welcoming them back to Singapore again.

The Patron

Let me also take this occasion to express my deepest appreciation to the patron of the GYSS, Dr Tony Tan. His contributions go beyond initiating the GYSS, which has become a go-to event for global scientists. 

Dr Tan is also the founding Chairman of NRF. His steadfast conviction that science and technology will give Singapore the competitive edge in a more globalised world led to the formation of the RIE Council and the NRF in 2006.

As NRF Chairman, Dr Tan established our research centres of excellence, nurtured many promising scientists through the NRF Fellowship and other programmes, and strengthened translational research and innovation. As importantly, he built many international bridges, through the GYSS, CREATE and many other channels.

When Dr Tan became the President of the Republic of Singapore, he continued to advance international collaboration in science and technology on his State and official visits. He also strongly supported the President’s Science and Technology Awards.         

SM Teo took over from Dr Tan as NRF Chairman in 2011. Under SM’s chairmanship, GYSS turned from concept into reality. SM Teo also graced the inaugural Summit in 2013. On the international front, SM Teo also started the Singapore Week of Innovation & Technology, which has now become a year-round global programme for learning and collaboration.

I am standing on the shoulders of giants, as I stand before you to give this speech. Let us give a round of applause to Dr Tony Tan, and also to SM Teo, for building the RIE ecosystem that we have today. In appreciation of Dr Tan’s contributions, I will be presenting him with a copy of the GYSS 10th anniversary commemorative publication later this evening.

Conclusion

As we commemorate the 10th edition of the Global Young Scientist Summit, it is important to reflect on why we embarked on this meaningful initiative.

Compared to a decade ago, the world has become even more complex and the global challenges more pressing. To effectively address these complex issues, we need to work collectively in global partnership and inspire a new generation of scientists and researchers to create a better future.

The GYSS supports these objectives of strengthening the spirit of collaboration and inspiring our young scientists by bringing together some of the most promising young scientists and eminent scientists from around the world.

I hope past and present participants will go on to make significant breakthroughs and to inspire future young scientists.

Let us build on each edition and make the next one even better. Let us sustain this effort to grow Singapore as a vibrant and innovative global research node, working with the best minds and the best institutions around the world.

Thank you.

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