Speech by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Opening of Fusionopolis Two on 19 October 2015.
Mr Lim Chuan Poh, Chairman of A*STAR, Dr Loo Choon Yong, Chairman of JTC, ladies and gentlemen.
Happy to be back here at Fusionopolis to launch Fusionopolis Two. Research and Development (R&D) has become very important to our economy because it helps us to renew our industries and create new markets. It helps our companies, particularly the small ones, to upgrade productivity. It creates good jobs for workers, and through new products and services, improve the lives of Singaporeans.
We have been steadily investing in R&D now for many years, and made good progress. Companies have tapped on our Public Research Institutes and done joint projects with them. In the last four years since 2011, A*STAR has undertaken over 7,400 industry projects which have catalysed more than a billion dollars in industry R&D investments. As you have heard just now, we have partnered both global leaders and local enterprises like P&G, Applied Materials, L’Oreal, General Electric, DBS, Singapore Power, Koh Brothers, and also Mr Bean – not the comedian, but the shop selling beancurd drinks. Startups in Singapore have more than doubled in the last decade from 24,000 in 2005 to 55,000 last year. The Global Entrepreneurship Index now ranks us as the 10th most entrepreneurial country, which is not bad. Our number of research scientists and engineers has increased six times to 32,000 in the past 25 years.
We are seeing applications to our daily life. For example, we are doing R&D on urban design to reduce urban heat generated. We have launched the Smart Nation Programme, to apply the fruits of R&D and technology in transportation, healthcare, and education. That is why we decided to create a research and innovation hub here in One-North. To take advantage of co-location, to foster closer collaboration between private enterprises and Public Research Institutes.
Seven years ago, we launched Fusionopolis One and I am glad that One-North is now a vibrant and dynamic hub. We have brought together here two Public Research Institutes - Institute for Infocomm Research and the Institute of High Performance Computing. By putting them together, we have enhanced their capabilities and found many more applications for their research. This Integration has catalysed many industry projects with companies like Singtel, DBS, Rolls Royce, Lloyd’s and Fujitsu.
Because Biopolis and Fusionopolis are next to each other, they have brought together biomedical and science & engineering capabilities, and seeded new areas of research and business. A few months ago, we opened Launchpad next door. Launchpad is an incubator for startups in different industries like electronics, engineering, biomedical, infocomm and media industries. Putting it near Fusionopolis and Biopolis will help startups to tap on the R&D for their own needs.
Today, we are taking the next step and launching Fusionopolis Two. Bringing together four more Public Research Institutes – Data Storage Institute, the Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology, the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering and the Institute of Microelectronics – in order to join the two at Fusionopolis One. This will help us to marshal and integrate all the capabilities needed to support the future of manufacturing, or at least the future of manufacturing in Singapore. We are already seeing how manufacturing is being transformed by digital technologies such as the internet-of-things, data fusion, greater automation, and new methods of manufacturing such as additive manufacturing. With this project, we will be able to build and integrate capabilities. For example, in materials science, chemistry, semiconductor processing, computational modelling and machine design, to support MNCs and SMEs. For example, in the Electronics sector, Applied Materials will work with three of A*STAR’s Research Institutes in Fusionopolis. They have just established a new $150 million dollar Joint Lab between Applied Materials and A*STAR on semiconductor research announced this morning.
One-north is now home to over 250 companies, and more than 600 start-ups. There are 16 Public Research Institutes, five corporate universities and institutes of higher learning. Specifically, the Biopolis and Fusionopolis Campuses house a working population of 16,000 which includes scientists, researchers and innovators. So the whole estate has become a vibrant commercial, residential and student hub, with commercial developments and new MRT lines.
All that is just the infrastructure. But to make our R&D and Innovation hub work, we need ideas, initiative, and a strong network of enterprises and public institutions, driven by the spirit of research and entrepreneurship where our enterprises and people are never satisfied with the world as it is, constantly strive to improve, and are forever hungry and bold. So after this, I am looking forward to riding in a self-driving car which our research agencies have developed. Not quite on par with Google’s self-drive car yet, but we are getting there. We have managed to come thus far with agencies doing it on their own in just nine months.
If we take it further and develop a network of such vehicles, then we can have self-driving vehicles bringing Singaporeans to the nearest bus interchange or MRT station. We can solve commuting problems, relieve congestion on the roads and help our businesses to be more efficient. Some businesses are already doing that, for example, PSA is already piloting the use of autonomous vehicles in its container yards.
For innovations like self-driving cars to succeed, we need not just technology; many different pieces have to come together. For example, regulation, infrastructure, network planning, and working with the population to experiment with and adapt to new gizmos. And that in Singapore, is where our opportunity lies, because we are a small country, we have one level of Government, and we can bring all these pieces together. Our Public Research Institutes, private enterprises and people can work together. Find solutions that can transform our lives, improve livelihoods and our living spaces. To experiment, push the envelope with new ideas, test-bed new solutions, get feed-back quickly, improve prototypes and iterate. That is what we have been doing with R&D.
Hope that with Fusionopolis Two, we will see bolder ideas, more innovation and a feeling that “the sky’s the limit!” Thank you.
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