Speech by Dr Koh Poh Koon, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Trade and Industry, at the one-north Festival on Friday, 7 September 2018 at Fusionopolis Atrium, Fusionpolis One, Singapore

Speech by Dr Koh Poh Koon, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Trade and Industry, at the one-north Festival on Friday, 7 September 2018 at Fusionopolis Atrium, Fusionpolis One, Singapore

Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good Afternoon.

1. I am delighted to join you today for the third edition of the one-north Festival, jointly organised by A*STAR and JTC, and supported by the Science Centre Singapore, industry partners, educational institutions, and public sector organisations.

One-north is a microcosm of Singapore’s innovation-driven economy

2. The one-north Festival is an annual celebration of research, innovation, creativity, and enterprise where we bring together innovators, scientists, the business community, students and members of the public to this hub of innovative activity known as one-north. Here visitors will discover that one-north is a place where future possibilities in science, technology, media, and enterprise are being created.

3. In keeping with strategy to develop our core of local talent together with the rich diversity of foreign talent, one-north has become a place that nurtures the growth of a unique mix of talent to help transform Singapore’s future by changing and innovating the ways in which we work, live and play. This is the place where diverse and unique talent can congregate and create value for Singapore.

4. Today, one-north hosts a cluster of world-class research facilities and business park space, built to support the development of technologies in Advanced Manufacturing, Biomedical Sciences, Infocomm Technology (ICT), Media, and Physical Sciences and Engineering that will feed into our industries and enterprises, be they SMEs, large local enterprises, MNCs or start-ups. We now have a vibrant community of about 50,000 scientists, innovators, industry professionals, entrepreneurs and students at one-north.

5. What we see at one-north today is the result of bold and deliberate planning spanning many years. Looking forward, technology will only feature more prominently in our future economy. R&D and innovation will only become more important for companies to transform their businesses and grow.

6. Singapore is starting from a strong base. The 2018 Global Innovation Index has ranked Singapore the top country for innovation within Asia and Oceania, and 5th in the world. The National R&D Survey 2016 shows that Business Expenditure on R&D (BERD) has held steady at about $5.7 billion. Very encouragingly, we are seeing local enterprises paying more attention to R&D, with BERD by local enterprises growing at a CAGR of 8% from 2011 to 2016.

7. To prepare Singapore for the future economy, the government is committed to continue building on our strengths, to create an enabling environment for R&D and innovation. Open innovation and collaboration are key in this endeavour. Bringing together fresh perspectives can catalyse cross-sector collaboration and strengthen the overall ecosystem as various organisations leverage on each other’s strengths.

8. In this vein, our economic agencies have facilitated the formation of a number of public-private-partnerships at one-north. For example, A*STAR has collaborated with leading companies such as P&G and Applied Materials over the years in the development of cutting-edge market innovations, to anchor high value economic activity in Singapore and create good jobs for Singaporeans. P&G and Applied Materials have also gone on to establish key facilities at Biopolis and Fusionopolis Two respectively.

9. One-north has also played an important role as the cradle for our local startup ecosystem. JTC LaunchPad, which is just across the street from Fusionopolis, houses a vibrant community of startups and incubators which has given rise to many collaborations. For instance, two startups, Sunpro Energies and Takatack Technologies met in LaunchPad and have come together to form a company, Pylon City, which is developing a network of solar-powered pay per use electric scooters that utilises the turnkey solar solutions developed by Sunpro Energies. JTC and its partners have also been stepping up community building initiatives and programmes such as today’s one-north Festival with the aim of bringing these knowledge workers out of their offices to interact and get to know one another, which we hope will lead to new ideas and breakthroughs. We believe this culture of collaboration will continue to grow, and spur innovation and industry growth.

The one-north Festival is an excellent opportunity for members of the public to learn more about exciting developments in S&T

10. The one-north Festival is an excellent opportunity for members of the public to learn more about the exciting developments in science and technology. At the Festival, members of the public will be able to get a glimpse of the cutting-edge science that takes place in the laboratories at one-north, and learn about how Singapore’s investments in R&D are helping industry benefit from the latest technologies.

11. The theme of this year’s Festival is ‘Artificial Intelligence (AI) and I’. Undeniably, AI is one of the fastest developing technologies today, with the potential to transform our lives and economy. According to global consultancy firm Accenture, AI has the potential to double Singapore’s economic growth rates to around 5.4% by 2035, translating to an additional US$215 billion in gross value-add.

12. Singapore has been developing local capabilities and capacity in AI to ensure that we are well positioned to benefit from AI technologies. Last year, the National Research Foundation (NRF) launched a national programme in AI, with the objectives of using AI to address major challenges that affect society and industry, invest in deep capabilities to develop next generation AI technologies, and broaden the adoption and use of AI and machine learning within industry.

13. The advancements in the field of AI will transform our lives and transform our business and the way we work in so many ways – and some of these advancements are already taking place right here in one-north. I would like to highlight three recent projects which demonstrate the progress which Singapore has made in integrating AI technologies into our lives.

14. First, one-north has been designated as Singapore’s first drone estate where companies can test their technologies in an urban environment. As part of this initiative, local company H3 Dynamics and JTC are test-bedding a building facade drone at various precincts and buildings at one-north, including Fusionopolis One, where we are now. By integrating AI machine learning, visual analytics and drone technologies, the H3 Zoom AI Facade Inspector can automatically identify, locate and report defects and anomalies on building facades. This cuts down the time taken to inspect a building from a few weeks to a few days, and also reduces the risk of inspection injuries.

15. Second, AI technologies play an important role in our efforts to transform the manufacturing sector. As part of the Model Factory initiative, A*STAR works closely with industry to test-bed advanced manufacturing technologies and jointly develop innovative solutions to raise productivity and competiveness. AI technologies that have been developed under this initiative include Autonomous Guided Vehicles, which can be used to move heavy objects efficiently and optimally around the factory floor.

16. Third, AI has also entered the consumer product space. For instance, NUS has successfully created an AI programme which can make personalised recommendations for beauty products, and then digitally demonstrate the effect of the product for different users. This is a good example of how facial recognition and machine learning technologies are put to daily use by consumers.

17. I would like to congratulate the organisations and researchers behind these innovations, and I look forward to seeing the technologies in action at the exhibition later.

The one-north Festival celebrates the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) talent in Singapore

18. Supporting these efforts in R&D and innovation is a passionate and talented Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) community at one-north. The youthful audience at the one-north Festival today is a good reminder ofthe importance of getting young Singaporeans excited about STEM.

19. I would like to congratulate the winners of the inaugural A*STAR-ESSEC Science Communicator Challenge. This challenge aims to raise overall science literacy, and spark meaningful discussions highlighting the importance of science and technology in our society. The competition is inspired by the concept of elevator pitches and is split into two categories – one for students and one for A*STAR scientists.

20. To the winners here today – keep up the good work! I hope that you will continue to do great science that will improve the lives of Singaporeans and of the people around the world. To the families and students present today – do take the opportunity to interact with our award winners and other scientists, innovators, and entrepreneurs from one-north, to learn more about their exciting work, and their contributions to Singapore.


21. On this note, I wish all of you an enjoyable and fruitful time at the one-north Festival.

22. Thank you.