Checking out innovation in Singapore

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Six Higher Degree by Research students travelled with ANU staff to Singapore in late September. Image: supplied.

Six of our Higher Degree by Research students recently had the chance to experience what is happening in the innovations space in Singapore.

Through the help of the Australian High Commission in Singapore, the students flew there to participate in the country's Festival of Innovation, known as Good Science=Great Business.

While they were there, the students visited a number of businesses to observe what they are doing with technology. They also visited a number of global startup programs at the Nanyan Technological University and the National University of Singapore.

Over the course of the trip, the students also visited the Enterepreneur First accelerator program, independent and institutional incubators (80RR FinTech Hub and NUS Enterprise), and were familiarised with the global start-up placement programs run for students by NTUitive at the Nanyang Technological University and NUS Enterprise at the National University of Singapore.

One of the six PhD students to attend was Adelle Wright.

She says the group had a unique opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at how these programs begin, how they are managed and how they are developed.

"As students, to observe the high-level discussions which lay the groundwork for future ANU programs is really exciting," she says.

"By the end of the trip, we were all brimming with ideas and initiatives to capitalise on the lessons we learned."

During the trip, the students also experienced some diplomacy in action by attending a panel discussion hosted by the Australian High Commission. The discussion featured successful Australian and Singaporean medical technology entrepreneurs, as well as health and innovation stakeholders. The theme of the discussion focussed largely around strengthening cooperation between Australia and Singapore.

"The trip culminated in a lavish gala dinner, hosted by the High Commission, to mark the end of the Festival, and to launch the ANU Southeast Asia Liaison Office in Singapore," Adelle says.

Dispersed across several tables, the students had a front row seat to an evening of high-level networking and inspirational addresses by the Australian Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, The Hon Karen Andrews MP, the Singaporean Minister for Finance, Mr Heng Sweee Keat, and our very own Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt.

"To be immersed in this world as a student was quite incredible, especially for building personal networks," Adelle says.

Senior Lecturer in Computer Science, Dr Charles Gretton, says the trip was intense but very valuable.

"I was blown away by the scale of the community, the support mechanisms for entrepreneurs and the magnitude of the investment the Singaporean government and corporate sectors are making in innovative and disruptive technologies," he says.

"As the convener of the TechLauncher program, and as a researcher with some experience in commercializing Australian technology innovation overseas, I found it highly informative to be oriented to, and exposed to the university-centred programs in Singapore."

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