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Speech by SMS Koh Poh Koon at the launch of the Aquaculture Innovation Centre

Speech by SMS Koh Poh Koon at the launch of the Aquaculture Innovation Centre

Mr Teng Theng Dar, Singapore’s Non-Resident Ambassador to the Sultanate of Oman,

Mr Zakariya Hamed Al-Saadi, Consul-General of the Sultanate of Oman to the Republic of Singapore,

Mr Abdul Halidi Mohd Salleh, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism, Brunei Darussalam

Mr Ted Tan, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Enterprise Singapore,

Mr Peter Lam, Principal & Chief Executive Officer, Temasek Polytechnic,

Distinguished Guests, 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. Good morning. It gives me great pleasure to be here today at Temasek Polytechnic for the official launch of the Aquaculture Innovation Centre. Three years ago on 27 June 2016, I was here to launch the Centre for Aquaculture and Veterinary Science. The establishment of both these centres are key milestones which will have a positive impact on Singapore’s aquaculture sector. 

Singapore is in a strong position to be a leading player in the urban agriculture and aquaculture sector.

2. Singapore is not generally thought of as an agricultural nation. As a small country, space is our greatest constraint. At present, only 10% of our fish consumption is produced locally. Over the years, the global seafood industry has faced many challenges – overfishing, territorial disputes and environmental concerns. Being dependent on imports increases our vulnerability to food supply shocks. 

3. Singapore has set a “30 by 30” goal to produce 30 percent of our nutritional needs locally by 2030. To achieve this ambitious goal, we need to use technology to improve the productivity, environmental sustainability and safety of food production.

4. Raising the sustainability and resilience of food supply is increasingly a global issue. Our strong innovation eco-system, robust intellectual property and standards framework, as well as our pro-business environment, puts Singapore in an excellent position to become a leading player in the urban agriculture and aquaculture industry.

5. The Aquaculture Innovation Centre will play three important roles in fulfilling our goals: as a collaborator, an innovation and technology enabler, as well as a training provider. 

The Aquaculture Innovation Centre will drive public and private sector collaboration in aquaculture.

6. The Aquaculture Innovation Centre will bring the number of Centres of Innovation (COIs) to ten. Supported by Enterprise Singapore, the COIs support small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as they embark on their technology innovation journeys. Each COI specialises in a different industry. They help SMEs develop technology capabilities through access to technical facilities, consultancy services and training.

7. The Aquaculture Innovation Centre is the first COI to adopt a consortium operating model. Supported by Enterprise Singapore, it is hosted and led by Temasek Polytechnic in collaboration with eight partners - Nanyang Polytechnic, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Republic Polytechnic, National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University, James Cook University, the Agency for Science, Technology and Research, as well as the Singapore Food Agency.

8. The consortium model will optimise resource utilisation and reduce time-to-market for new and innovative aquaculture solutions. The Aquaculture Innovation Centre will strengthen the aquaculture sector’s networks and knowledge-sharing initiatives through conferences, workshops, as well as joint R&D collaborations. 

9. In this collaborative spirit, I am glad to note that the Innovation Centre’s Advisory Committee comprises a diverse range of expertise, from local veterans like Apollo Aquaculture Group and Barramundi Asia, to multinationals like Evonik, and international organisations like the Asian Development Bank. They will provide valuable insights on global aquaculture trends and on-ground feedback on industry needs and challenges. 

10. To reinforce the strong link between the Aquaculture Innovation Centre and industry, I am happy to announce that it will be signing an MOU with Oceanus Group later. The MOU seeks to deepen skills in the area of seafood aquaculture, and will provide Temasek Polytechnic’s students and staff with opportunities to work on joint projects and receive training in Oceanus’ large commercial scale aquaculture farms.

The Aquaculture Innovation Centre will work with local SMEs and startup accelerators to strengthen Singapore’s aquaculture innovation ecosystem.

11. To support our vision to become a leading aquaculture hub, the Aquaculture Innovation Centre will develop technical capabilities and provide innovative aquaculture services and solutions for our local SMEs. The Centre will focus on (i) nutrition, feeds, additives and feeding management; (ii) health and disease management; and (iii) genetics, breeding and seed production.

12. It will also work with the sector to raise industry standards through product testing and certification, quality standards development, and support workforce training for standards and technology adoption.

13. Our SMEs increasingly see innovation as a competitive advantage. For example, in 2018, Blue Aqua International collaborated with Temasek Polytechnic on feed research and development as well as feeding trials for cost-effective feeds for super intensive farming of Sea Bass, Hybrid Grouper and Tilapia. 

14. We are also seeing more activity in the aquaculture startup ecosystem. With the support of Enterprise Singapore, HATCH Blue, the world’s first aquaculture-focused accelerator, will be launching its third accelerator program. Cohorts of the accelerator programme will visit Hawaii, Norway and end with a final demo day in Singapore.

15. I am pleased to note that today, the Aquaculture Innovation Centre will ink an MOU with HATCH Blue, to strengthen Singapore’s aquaculture innovation ecosystem. As part of the MOU, the Aquaculture Innovation Centre will work with HATCH to launch the Aquaculture Innovation Challenge Singapore, a structured innovation programme that runs between six and nine months. The programme targets students and researchers from local and regional Institutes of Higher Learning and Research Institutes to develop solutions to solve industry problems in tropical aquaculture and build a talent pipeline for the industry.

The Aquaculture Innovation Centre will work with Institutes of Higher Learning to train the next generation of Singapore’s aquaculture talent.

16. With its strong links to industry, the Aquaculture Innovation Centre is well-placed to support similar talent development programmes by providing access to state-of-the-art technology, as well as opportunities to gain first-hand industry exposure.

17. Talent is a central piece in our efforts to grow Singapore’s aquaculture sector. Our Institutes of Higher Learning are already grooming the next generation of Singapore’s aquaculture talent.

18. Temasek Polytechnic, for example, is offering aquaculture training as part of its Diploma in Biotechnology and Veterinary Technology. It has also launched a part-time Aquaculture Diploma Programme in 2013 to provide education and training for mid-career individuals who are keen to join the aquaculture sector. 

19. Likewise, Republic Polytechnic, a consortium member, has also launched an Applied Science Diploma in Urban Agriculture Technology last year for both fresh ITE graduates and adult learners making a mid-career switch.


20. The launch of the Aquaculture Innovation Centre would not be possible without the support of our aquaculture industry partners. I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation for your support. I am confident that the Aquaculture Innovation Centre will provide our SMEs with comprehensive and timely support on their technology innovation journeys.

21. Finally, I would like to congratulate Temasek Polytechnic and the consortium members on the launch of the Aquaculture Innovation Centre. I look forward to all your contributions as we work together towards achieving Singapore’s “30 by 30” goal.

22. Thank you.

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