NUS co-hosts panel discussion at Davos

From left: Assoc Prof Chua, Prof Liu, Prof Tan, Prof Lam and Prof Mahbubani at the first-ever Singapore panel discussion at the World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting

NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye and NUS Senior Advisor (University & Global Relations) Professor Kishore Mahbubani, along with NUS researchers Professor Lam Khee Poh, Dean of NUS Design and Environment, Professor Liu Bin, Head of NUS Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and Associate Professor Ernest Chua from NUS Mechanical Engineering, joined the world’s top leaders from politics, business, civil society and academia at the exclusive World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2019 in Davos, Switzerland.

Held from 22 to 25 January, the invitation-only event aimed to shape a new framework for global cooperation in the context of Globalisation 4.0 and the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which are changing how individuals, governments and companies relate to each other, as well as bringing about both opportunities and hindrances for mankind. The monumental challenge was tackled through a series of “Global Dialogues” on topics such as geopolitics, financial and monetary systems, cybersecurity, risk resilience, human capital and institutional reform.

This panel discussion provides an excellent opportunity for Singapore to share our experiences, and at the same time, address key challenges and opportunities brought about by the globalisation of innovation.

At a panel discussion on 23 January jointly hosted by Prof Tan and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) President Professor Subra Suresh, panellists Singapore Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat, CEO of sovereign wealth fund GIC Mr Lim Chow Kiat, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Canada’s McGill University Professor Suzanne Fortier, and President and CEO of HP, Inc. Mr Dion Weisler engaged in a conversation with some 200 delegates on “Technology & Innovation for Humanity”. The panellists discussed how Singapore is addressing the challenges of Industry 4.0 and promoting a new “Globalisation 4.0” that will shape the growth of Asia and beyond.

On how Singapore can position itself for success in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Mr Heng said, “I believe Singapore can be a global Asian node for technology, innovation and enterprise.” He cited the nation’s strategic location, its longstanding economic relationships both globally and regionally, its multicultural population and its many initiatives to upgrade workers and companies as reasons for this.

Prof Fortier spoke of the role of universities in preparing people for Industry 4.0, not only by educating the young but also by providing opportunities for older populations to upgrade themselves. With HP being a large employer in Singapore, Mr Weisler offered a unique insight into what companies are seeking in a technologically driven future and how companies will need to trust countries they invest in to keep their intellectual property safe. Mr Lim advised that anchoring to the Singapore DNA will put the country in good stead to succeed in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

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Co-hosts Prof Tan (right) and Prof Suresh

Mr Heng commended NUS and NTU for coming together to host the first-ever Singapore panel discussion at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos. “This panel session brings together experts on major technological advances to discuss how we can collaborate to ride the waves of change to benefit our people and peoples around the world,” he added.  

Prof Tan agreed that Singapore — with its educated and digital savvy workforce and strong technology base — is well-positioned to play a key role in reshaping the global landscape. “This panel discussion provides an excellent opportunity for Singapore to share our experiences, and at the same time, address key challenges and opportunities brought about by the globalisation of innovation,” he said. Prof Tan added that NUS is a forerunner in Singapore’s Smart Nation drive, leveraging its distinctive strengths in education and world-leading capabilities in areas such as data science, cybersecurity and artificial intelligence, to accelerate Singapore’s digital transformation.

Both Prof Tan and Prof Suresh are members of the prestigious Global University Leaders Forum of the World Economic Forum, which comprises the Presidents of the top 28 universities in the world.

Zooming in on the issue of sustainability, Prof Lam, Prof Liu and Assoc Prof Chua were also invited to present their research in the field during a special NUS IdeasLab at the Forum on 24 January, sharing on net-zero energy buildings for sustainable cities, capturing atmospheric carbon to power clean alternative fuels, and next-generation air conditioning respectively.