2019 marks the 200th year of bilateral relations between Singapore and the United Kingdom. The Singapore- UK Partnership for the Future was launched by the two Foreign Ministers, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan and Mr Jeremy Hunt, earlier this year, celebrating our longstanding partnership and embracing our cooperation in fields ranging from defence to digital.
Innovation is one of the most important areas of similarity and collaboration between the two countries. The UK and Singapore have been respectively ranked 4th and 5th in the 2018 Global Innovation Index – a testament to the success of both nations in creating the right conditions for commercialisation.
Singapore’s Smart Nation vision, embrace of disruptive technology and drive for entrepreneurship puts it in a leading position in the global race for innovation. The UK is home to some of the most innovative companies around the globe, ranging from some of the biggest multinationals, to young and emerging companies providing products and services unheard of a decade ago.
Both Singapore and the UK share an intrinsic understanding that innovation thrives from the spirit of collaboration. Businesses need to be able to engage globally in order to survive and thrive. This is true for the big players but perhaps even more so for young companies looking to scale and prosper in the global marketplace. A recent agreement from the UK is set to create new opportunities for Singaporean and UK companies to do just that.
On 14- 16 May, the UK hosted the EUREKA Global Innovation Summit in Manchester. More than 1700 delegates from over 60 countries participated, including partners from Singapore’s innovation agencies – Enterprise Singapore and Intellectual Property Intermediary (IPI).
At the Summit, UK Science Minister Chris Skidmore announced £1 million of UK funding towards a EUREKA GlobalStars joint call with Singapore and the Netherlands. The UK-Netherlands-Singapore GlobalStars Programme will support innovative SMEs with the strongest ideas for scaling up a product or a service. Companies working in medical technology, smart mobility and logistics, and advanced manufacturing are particularly encouraged to apply for funding for R&D projects, resulting in a new product, process or service. This will not only benefit consumers but also help the companies to scale up, while at the same time creating wider benefits for employment opportunities, new knowledge and technology development and solutions deployment.
The announcement comes alongside a host of offers for international collaborations in science. At the Summit, Minister Skidmore also released the UK’s new International Research and Innovation Strategy (link below) that reaffirms the UK’s position as a world leader in science and innovation. With its explicit focus on international partnerships, the Strategy sets out the opportunities for Singapore to collaborate with UK science excellence.
Recent industry and personnel trends add evidence to the need for such a commitment. Half of the published research in the UK is the result of international collaborations. 72 percent of the UK’s active researchers are internationally mobile and British scientists are integrally connected to the international science ecosystem.
The Strategy presents a host of opportunities for international partnership that include practical collaborations in basic research all the way through to developing new technologies, services and markets as well as support for entrepreneurs and SMEs. This comes at a time when the UK is committed to a target of 2.4 % of GDP invested in R&D by 2027.
One of the examples of existing international collaboration highlighted in the Strategy is the UK-Singapore collaboration on a test bed for satellite quantum key distribution. The aim of this joint programme is to develop new technology that will underpin more secure online activity for consumers in fields from financial transactions to online conversations. The work is jointly funded by the UK and Singapore, and draws on the world leading-expertise of scientists from both countries.
Singapore and the UK share an understanding of the importance of collaboration and partnership in moving further and faster, to create new solutions for the challenges we face, and to find new opportunities for growth and wellbeing. In working closely with industry and academia with strong government support, there is a shared recognition of the advantages of pooling talent and knowledge to advance science and create practical solutions to safeguard populations.
This is the Singapore- UK Partnership for the Future in action – built upon long-standing bilateral ties, an innovation-focused relationship, and a collaborative, forward-looking vision.
1. UK commits to international partnerships to meet shared challenges and drive growth (link below)
2. GlobalStars is an initiative under the EUREKA network which allows collaborative projects between innovative SMEs in EUREKA member countries with non-member countries such as Singapore. Find out more about the EUREKA network (link below)
3. Application details of the GlobalStars funding competition between Singapore, the Netherlands and UK – focused on medical technology, smart mobility and logistics and advanced manufacturing will be posted on the website (link below)
4. Partner with Singapore on disruptive projects: apply for funding (link below)
Regional Director, Southeast Asia
Science and innovation