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Consortia for cybersecurity, synthetic biology launched

21 September 2016 | Research
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Assoc Prof Chang (left) and Prof Roychoudhury will be leading the Singapore Consortium for Synthetic Biology and the Singapore Cybersecurity Consortium, respectively

Two new consortia, hosted at NUS and supported by the National Research Foundation (NRF) Singapore, have been launched to promote research, commercialisation and training in cybersecurity and synthetic biology. The Singapore Cybersecurity Consortium (SGCSC) and the Singapore Consortium for Synthetic Biology (SINERGY) will actively engage industry, government agencies and researchers to spur use-inspired research, technology translation, manpower training, and technology awareness in cybersecurity and synthetic biology.

Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean made the announcement at the opening of the inaugural Singapore Week of Innovation & TeCHnology on 20 September.

This latest move seeks to add value to Singapore’s economy and society from knowledge created by the $42 million investment in NRF’s National Cybersecurity R&D Programme, together with the S$34 million investment in synthetic biology-related R&D funded under the Biological Design Tools and Applications grant call and NRF’s Competitive Research Programme.

With high dependency on software and information technology infrastructure, Singapore faces cybersecurity challenges and threats. Professor Abhik Roychoudhury from NUS Computing will helm SGCSC to advance greater awareness, adoption and translation of cybersecurity technologies.

He said, “The consortium seeks to bridge the gap between state-of-the-practice and state-of-the-art cutting edge research in the area of cybersecurity, as well as in other areas which can benefit from advances in cybersecurity such as the software sector and financial technologies.” He hopes that through training, professional engagement and research collaborations, the entry barrier for adopting relevant technologies by companies could be lowered. A vibrant community of professionals generating novel ideas and technologies to further the field of cybersecurity could also be built up.

The consortium will utilise the National Cybersecurity Lab infrastructure at NUS funded by NRF. Founding members comprising 14 industry partners can access a range of activities such as technology talks, annual cybersecurity camps, short certification courses and seed grants for collaboration in security and privacy issues.

Synthetic biology, an emerging area of research, is an interdisciplinary branch of biology and engineering that incorporates the design and construction of novel artificial biological pathways, organisms or devices, or the redesign of existing natural biological systems. Recent work has shown promising application of this field in areas such as energy, healthcare and the environment.

SINERGY will be headed by Associate Professor Matthew Chang, Director for the Synthetic Biology for Clinical and Technological Innovation (SynCTI) programme at NUS. Jointly funded by NUS and NRF, the consortium will leverage the facilities and expertise at SynCTI.

Assoc Prof Chang pointed out, “SINERGY aims to consolidate Singapore’s capabilities in synthetic biology and harness synergies across industry sectors to create a vibrant and globally connected bio-based economy in Singapore.” He envisaged that efforts to encourage interactions and co-development between industry, the universities and research institutes, will help augment manpower development for the new bio-economy, as well as speed up the translation of expertise for industry applications.

More than 10 industry partners are joining the consortium, which will organise activities to promote collaboration between researchers and industry, including annual meetings for biofoundry users, certification courses, networking events and strategic workshops.

See press release.


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