EU Calls for More Science and Innovation Partnerships between European and Singaporean Teams (03/02/2012)
Europe is a world player in science and technology, with the European Union (EU) investing S$12 billion in R&D this year. At the same time, each European country and private companies are making even more money available. This opens up manifold opportunities for Singaporean researchers and scientists to partner with their European counterparts and achieve excellence together.
More than 8,000 European companies are doing business in Singapore - some of them with their own research and innovation centre. Singapore and Europe have invested €150 billion in each other over the recent years. Singapore's research community, however, still remains largely unaware that European teams are leaders in science and technology. Cooperation will help Singaporean researchers in advancing their pursuits and in optimising their chances to work with some of the best researchers in all parts of the world.
To help fill this information gap, the Delegation of the European Union to Singapore and the Embassies of ten European countries here have published "Excellence in Research and Innovation – Cooperation Opportunities between Europe and Singapore". This booklet highlights areas where more joint projects could get on track between European and Singaporean research teams and provides information on how to get new projects started. It was compiled to facilitate Singaporean researchers’ and policy makers’ efforts to make right choices.
During the publication's launch here today, Ambassador Marc Ungeheuer, Head of the EU Delegation to Singapore, said "I want to encourage Singaporean researchers and decision makers to look more closely at what they could win in terms of excellence for Singapore and mutual benefit between Europe and Singapore if they would better catch existing opportunities to work with European teams. I hope that this publication will be a practical guide to them and allow them to start forging partnerships with their European counterparts."
Ambassador Ungeheuer added, "The 400 most innovative European companies invest over S$200 billion in R&D every year, and among the top 50 companies worldwide in terms of R&D investment, 15 are from Europe, 18 from the US and 13 from Japan, with the European companies leading in economic sectors like pharmaceuticals, transport, and telecom. Europe is really a world player in science and technology."
The special guest of the launch event was Prof. Dr. Helga Nowotny, President of the European Research Council (ERC) who presented the generous grants that the ERC makes available for junior and established researchers from Singapore to advance their work in Europe. Based on the principle of scientific excellence, the ERC supports individual researchers in a unique “bottom-up” approach - covering all fields of research including social science, life sciences, physical sciences and engineering - without pre-determined priorities or restrictions with regard to citizenship. This approach allows researchers to identify new opportunities in any field of research, and ensures that funds are channelled into new and promising research areas with a high degree of flexibility. More details on the ERC grants can be found in the new booklet.
The 7th Framework Programme (FP7), which is the EU's main instrument for funding research in Europe and the largest source of research funding in the world, is already supporting several projects with Singaporean participation. For instance, DENGUETOOLS, a project led by Umea Universitet in Sweden with participation of high-level partners from the United Kingdom (UK), Germany, France, Switzerland and Spain, and National University of Singapore (NUS), to provide improved tools for dengue surveillance (early diagnostic assays, early warning systems, predictive models, and risk maps). The programme also funds the MOLESOL project, led by the Interuniversitait Micro-Electronica Centrum in Leuven, Belgium, which partners with Ireland, Italy, Sweden, Germany, the Czech Republic, Switzerland and NUS. MOLESOL conducts research on next generation solar cells. The programme also funds the ATMOL project, in which research centres from France, Spain, Germany, Poland, and the UK partner with A*STAR's Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) on an innovative process flow for fabricating molecular chips. A consortium led by the University of Edinburgh in the UK has also been successful in securing funding from FP7 to work with A*STAR’s Immunology Network and other organisations to develop treatments for incurable disease, Chikungunya through a project called ICRES (Integrated Chikungunya Research).
In November 2010, the EU also launched "EURAXESS Links Singapore", an online researchers' network to facilitate direct contacts and sharing of information. Today, this EU-Singapore virtual community has almost 900 members.
The Ambassadors of France, Germany, Poland and Sweden also participated in the launch event, together with representatives from the embassies of Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Coming up next will be the visit of Mrs. Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, the European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, to Singapore on 2-3 March. ASEAN and EU have declared 2012 the ASEAN-EU Year of Science, Technology and Innovation.
Highlights of the publication
European countries' highlights to be found in the new ""Excellence in Research and Innovation – Cooperation Opportunities between Europe and Singapore" booklet include:
- Belgium's strengths on biotechnology: Belgium is the fourth country in the world in terms of biotechnology R&D per firm and has the second highest proportion of biotechnology R&D in total national R&D in the world.
- Denmark's unique position in the field of clean-tech (more than 19 percent of Denmark's energy comes from wind), with detailed information on Danish companies Aquaporin, DHI and Vestas which are present in Singapore.
- France's joint laboratories with Singapore, such as the CNRS International-NTU-Thales Research Alliance working on nano-components and new circuit architectures, and information on French funding schemes for Singaporean researchers
- Germany's focus on developing high-tech solutions in the areas of climate, energy, health, nutrition, mobility, security, and communication, and the project of launching in 2012 a mobility programme for Singaporean and German researchers.
- Ireland has put in place an innovation scheme, in particular with the Science Foundation Ireland, which invites foreign researchers to work with Irish teams. Irish research already has connections with Singapore in areas such as stem cells.
- Poland's strengths as a place for doing R&D in Europe, in particular local skills and favourable conditions, as well as Poland's thematic calls for projects targeting Singaporean scientists.
- Sweden's leadership on R&D spending (3.5% of GDP) and innovation, the country's strong standing in pharmaceuticals, and the close relation between Karolinska Institute and Singaporean counterparts.
Switzerland's excellent conditions for innovation, widely recognised by global rankings and the country's strong investment in R&D (3% of GPD, 2/3 of which provided by the private sector).
- The Netherlands and Singapore enjoy a shared status as knowledge-based economies. Both countries have defined common priorities for R&D in four sectors: Water, Energy, Creative industries and Life sciences & health.
- The United Kingdom's recent successes with Singaporean partners, such as a joint fund to support R&D on infectious diseases, and the workshops regularly organised with A*Star, NRF, Universities and companies in the framework of the UK-Singapore Partners in Science programme.