Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good afternoon and a very warm welcome to Biopolis for the first national edition of the Falling Walls Lab Singapore.
It gives me great pleasure to open this event, which is part of the internationally renowned Falling Walls conference that has its roots in Germany.
The event is held there every year on November 9, the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Since its inception in 2009, the conference has become a keystone event to explore trends, opportunities and solutions for global challenges and discover international breakthrough research.
The event also provides a unique, interdisciplinary platform for students, academics and professionals to share their innovative ideas, research breakthroughs and social initiatives.
Two winners will be selected today to represent Singapore at the Finale to be held in Berlin on November 8, joining the other 98 winners of the international Labs.
They are also invited to attend the Falling Walls Conference to be held the next day.
Personal Experience at Falling Walls Conference 2016
I attended the last Falling Walls Conference in Berlin, and was impressed by the calibre of the presenters and inspired by their work and how they are making a difference to the world and humanity.
It was also a most memorable event for me – to recall the morning of the Falling Walls conference coinciding with the countdown of the US Election.
The key lesson that we must all takeaway is that the world is a better place when we all work together to tackle the global challenges and this is particularly true for the scientific community as science is indeed international.
Vision for the Falling Walls Lab Singapore
This is the second consecutive year that NTU is organising the Falling Walls Lab in Singapore, and we are pleased that the event is now open to the wider community beyond NTU.
I am also happy and honoured that A*STAR is able to come onboard as a venue host and supporter of the event.
To create and support opportunities to nurture and inspire the next generation of innovative scientific talent for Singapore is both part of A*STAR’s mission and something that is personally very close to my heart.
Falling Walls Lab aims to inspire and motivate future leaders to apply their expertise to solve practical challenges in the real world.
It encourages interdisciplinary collaboration by providing a space to share breakthrough research and ideas beyond one’s discipline.
A*STAR shares this vision of connecting outstanding researchers from different disciplines, supporting inter and trans-disciplinary exchanges and collaborations, and building bridges between industry and academia.
One example of this is how research is conducted within A*STAR’s Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN).
In 2014, IBN developed a cancer drug delivery system called green tea micellar nanocomplex.
Many people in Asia, especially Japan, drink green tea, which is known for its anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties.
The novelty of this invention is the use of green tea ingredients, which provide synergistic effects with chemotherapeutics, to enhance cancer treatment.
IBN licensed the invention to a spin-off company called GreenT Biomed Pte Ltd, for further development and commercialisation.
Another example is the Biotransformation Innovation Platform, which is a multidisciplinary taskforce that is working to harness the power of microorganisms to transform carbon sources into chemical compounds of interest to the biotechnology industry.
This includes harnessing the natural capacity of filamentous fungi to convert simple sugars into life-saving antibiotics.
BioTrans researchers will provide a much-needed link between upstream research and industry especially in the food and personal care sector.
This sector has traditionally relied heavily on raw materials for their products but is increasingly looking to more sustainable alternatives.
Encouragement for Participants
For today, I am delighted to find out that we have received many creative, original submissions and that the judges had a tough time down selecting the field to the most interesting, ground breaking work.
I am therefore looking forward to your presentations.
More importantly, in the coming years, I hope that we will build on this initial effort to generate even greater participation from students and early career researchers from the universities, polytechnics and research institutes.
On this note, let me congratulate the organiser, NTU, and its partners, the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, the German Academic Exchange Service, EURAXESS, the National Research Foundation and NUS for their efforts in organising the Falling Walls Lab Singapore.
I would also like to thank the jury panel, Mr Inderjit Singh, Mr Alwi Bin Hafiz, Dr Lily Chan, Prof Wolfgang Mueller-Wittig, Mr Knut Zuchan, and Mr Olivier Gergele for committing their time to this event.
On that note, I wish everyone a fruitful session ahead.