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Speech by Mr Heng Swee Keat, Minister for Finance, and Deputy Chairman of the National Research Foundation, at The Create 10th Anniversary Symposium, at National University of Sinapore

01 Dec 2017

Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam
Former President of the Republic of Singapore 

Mr Teo Chee Hean
Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security, and Chairman of the National Research Foundation

Mr Peter Ho
Chairman of the CREATE Governing Council

Presidents of CREATE partners

Your Excellencies

Distinguished guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

1.    Good morning. 

The Genesis of CREATE

2.     We are honoured that Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam, former President of the Republic of Singapore, can join us today, because CREATE is his creation.

a.    As then-Chairman of the National Research Foundation (NRF), Dr Tan sketched out this vision in 2006: “The CREATE Campus would enable Singapore to extend its global network and add to the attractiveness of Singapore to research talent, and the initiative would build on itself”.
b.    With this vision, we invited world-class universities to set up joint research centres in the CREATE campus. This grew into a “collaboratory” – where world-class researchers from both overseas partners and local institutions converge across diverse backgrounds and disciplines, to interact in collaborative research and innovation projects in one campus in Singapore 

10 Years on – CREATE today

3.    We designed CREATE to encourage interaction, across a range of not just disciplines and cultures, but also perspectives – from dreamers to researchers to designers to users – thereby actively fuelling conversation and exchanges between the spheres of research and innovation.  

a.    CREATE brings research talent together with the diverse perspectives of researchers, policy makers and end users, and enables serendipitous interactions and discovery, creating a research environment that is richer than the sum of its parts, to innovate and provide solutions to real world problems. 

4.    Today, 

a.    CREATE is an international research hub, built on strong institutional partnerships. Seven overseas partner universities-- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), University of California Berkeley (UCB), Cambridge University, ETH Zurich, Technical University of Munich (TUM), Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HUJ), and Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) – collaborate with Singapore universities in 14 systems-level and interdisciplinary programmes. 

b.    Almost 1,100 people from more than 40 countries are here.

c.    CREATE’s projects are relevant to Singapore and impactful on the global level.

d.    There is also a growing start-up culture at CREATE. To date, CREATE has 540 patent applications, 336 invention disclosures and 15 spin off companies.

i.    One example is NuTonomy, which grew out of the SMART Future Mobility (FM) programme at CREATE.  

Building on a Decade of Achievements to Raise the Ambition of CREATE

Drawing on lessons of the past decade to build the next decade

5.    Today, let’s reflect on the lessons learnt in the last 10 years, and how we can apply them to the future of CREATE. 

a.    Our first lesson comes from our partners, who bring in fresh insights, understand Singapore’s research ecosystem, and connect well with our public agencies. 

i.    We have learnt that strong bilateral commitment at multiple levels of leadership in our partner institutions – from – Universities’ Presidents to management to researchers – is a vital ingredient in the CREATE endeavour. 
ii.    CREATE partners bring in knowledge and developments from all over the world, and help us take a wider global perspective in our programmes, so that CREATE’s programmes can be relevant to the world. 

b.    A second lesson is how we organise ourselves to conduct research in a way that is relevant to real life.

i.    To properly address complex and messy real-world problems, we need to take an inter-disciplinary approach.
ii.    At CREATE, we frame our research into four thematic areas: Human systems, energy systems, environmental systems and urban systems.
iii.    This systems-level framing cuts across traditional academic divisions, and brings together diverse knowledge fields and perspectives. 
iv.    This systems-level approach is a distinguishing feature of CREATE that we will keep improving on. 

c.    The third lesson is that a successful CREATE programme must be coherent in programming, be clear about a common goal, and have strong synergies between projects. 

i.    Selecting a relevant challenge statement is important –what makes the best use of the strengths we have gathered at CREATE, and can our research make an impact in Singapore and in the world?  
ii.    We facilitate conversations between CREATE partners and Singapore agencies to select the right challenge statements; match CREATE programmes with the best people to lead them; and look for opportunities to prototype and test our solutions here that can go on to be applied beyond Singapore.  

The Future of CREATE- 2017 and beyond

6.    Going forward, we have started an intra-CREATE interaction, engagement and funding platform to take inter-disciplinary collaboration to a further level. 

a.    “Cooling Singapore” is the first intra-CREATE project. You will be hearing more about this project in a while.  

7.    The choice of future research themes and the strong ownership of the CREATE community will be key to CREATE’s continuing success. 

a.    Mr Peter Ho, former Head of Civil Service, will chair the new CREATE Governing Council, with the Presidents of CREATE partner universities as members, to steer CREATE towards its vision and oversee the choice of the portfolio of programmes. 

b.    Building on the first decade of achievements in research partnerships, CREATE will also work to establish an innovation network with our partners. This innovation network will be a strong complement to the Global Innovation Alliance (GIA) that we are establishing in key innovation nodes in Asia and around the world.  The GIA will bring together innovators, mentors and venture capitalists, to provide opportunities for our innovators to collaborate with kindred spirits  around the world. The first GIA had just been announced in Beijing last week.

Three New Programmes to Address Challenges of Singapore and the World

8.    I am pleased to announce the launch of 3 new programmes at CREATE, in topics important to Singapore, and also for Asia and the World: 

a.    First, Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) – to tackle the global threat of drug-resistant microbes. 

i.    Drug-resistant pathogens and emerging pathogens with the potential to become drug resistant are a real threat to public health. 
ii.    This AMR effort will define new resistant mechanisms; develop diagnostics, novel anti-resistance drugs and drug delivery technologies; and exploit host immunity to target resistant microbes. It complements the broader community effort in Singapore to address this issue.   

b.    Second, Disruptive and Sustainable Technologies for Agricultural Precision (DiSTAP) – to discover new plant biosynthetic pathways, and to advance technologies that optimise and translate these for economically viable yields. 

i.    DiSTAP can potentially solve the challenge of urban food and nutrient production in Singapore, and make Singapore the technological hub for a new generation of agricultural approaches. 

c.    Third, Trustworthy and Secure Cyber Plexus (TSCP) – to improve the trust for and security of cyber-physical systems. 

i.    The TSCP research programme will develop an overlay architecture which can be integrated with cyber-physical systems in existing infrastructures, making them trustworthy, reliable and secure. 

ii.    This is a critical response to a global environment increasingly troubled by non-state and terrorist attacks.  


9.    CREATE has provided Singapore, our partners and their faculties a unique environment in which to interact and discover ways to make an impact that might not have been possible otherwise. 

a.    Singapore benefits from our partnerships with like-minded friends from around the world.

b.     We look forward to continued collaborations with the global scientific research and innovation community, to advance scientific research and innovation, so as to contribute to creating a better future. 

10.    I am confident that CREATE will remain a distinctive part of Singapore’s Research, Innovation and Enterprise ecosystem, and an important element in our partner institutions’ international research and innovation strategies. I thank all our partners for your invaluable contributions to CREATE, and I hope that, working and learning together, CREATE can make a contribution to the world. 

11.    I wish everyone a fruitful symposium. Thank you very much.