French Minister for Higher Education, Research and Innovation Professor Frédérique Vidal, who was in town recently to launch the France-Singapore Year of Innovation, kicked off the campaign with a visit to NUS on 23 January.
The call began with a roundtable themed “From Research to Innovation”, hosted by Prof Vidal and Dr Janil Puthucheary, Senior Minister of State for Ministry of Communications and Information and Ministry of Education, and moderated by Professor Freddy Boey, NUS Senior Vice President, Graduate Education & Research Translation.
Delivering her opening remarks, Prof Vidal commented on the increasing cooperation between French and Singaporean companies, start-ups and individuals. “Indeed we share many common objectives and priority areas — smart cities, fintech, health, ageing, biotechnology, aeronautics and space, start-ups and emerging technologies, education and lifelong learning, just to name a few. The Year of Innovation will not only build bridges between Singapore and France’s innovation ecosystems, it will allow us to mutually acknowledge that creativity is the lifeboat of both our societies,” she said.
Dr Puthucheary added that the ties between France and Singapore extend beyond defence and trade. “It’s that commitment to innovation and academic inquiry and the translation of learning and knowledge from research into changes that make an impact on our citizens and our society. That type of approach, to be forward-looking, to think of how we can reinvent ourselves for the future, is yet another shared set of values and ideals that France and Singapore have,” he said.
Panellists included both Singaporean and French representatives from government, academia and industry, who shared their organisational experiences and highlighted the fundamental need for greater cross-boundary synergies to ensure a fertile innovation landscape.
NUS Computing Professor Leong Tze Yun, Director of Artificial Intelligence (AI) Technology at AI Singapore said that we should spread awareness about the exciting things that can be done with science and technology and encourage more young people to build a longterm career in related fields.
“In the University, we design the training programmes and courses in such a way that it combines both theory and application…After graduation, we want to promote the professionalism of science, technology, engineering and mathematics jobs and make sure that the jobs are well respected in terms of compensation, not just salary, and the meaningful contributions they can make to society. In addition, we need to provide lifelong learning opportunities so that graduates can upgrade their skills as they progress in their careers,” said Prof Leong.
Three agreements were signed during the French Minister’s visit — one between the NUS University Scholars Programme and the French Centre for Research and Interdisciplinarity to set up a student exchange prgramme, as well as between the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and the NUS Mechanobiology Institute (MBI) and Centre for Quantum Technologies (CQT) respectively to renew existing collaborative efforts.
Prof Vidal concluded her visit with a tour of the BioMechanics of Cellular Contacts Lab at MBI and the MajuLab at CQT, where she was introduced to the labs’ cutting-edge work and its impact on the community.
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