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Speech by Minister S Iswaran at the India-Singapore Tech Summit 2022

Speech by Minister S Iswaran at the India-Singapore Tech Summit 2022

Dr Jitendra Singh, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, and Minister of State in the PMO; Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions; Department of Atomic Energy and Department of Space,

Dr S Chandrasekhar, Secretary, Department of Science and Technology,

Mr T V Narendran, President, Confederation of Indian Industry,

Distinguished guests,

A very good afternoon from Singapore.

1. It is a pleasure for me to deliver the keynote address at the 28th Department of Science and Technology – Confederation of Indian Industry Technology Summit. Singapore is proud to be the partner country for this year’s event. This year’s theme, “Building Economies for the Future”, is a timely reminder of the need to be forward-looking in the face of some of humanity’s most pressing challenges. 

2. Inherent to the theme is a spirit of resilience that is especially important in the evolving COVID-19 pandemic, supply chain disruptions, the climate crisis, and shifting trends in manufacturing and production. 

3. Throughout our 57 years of friendship, India and Singapore have always shared deep and multi-faceted relations at every level, between our governments, businesses, and peoples. I am heartened that we continue to expand our economic cooperation. 

4. Our total bilateral trade in goods increased by approximately 35% last year to S$26.8 billion, from S$19.8 billion in 2020. It is a sign that our economies are recovering from the COVID-19 crisis.

5. In spite of the earlier travel restrictions between India and Singapore, which have since been lifted, we continued regular conversations virtually between our governments and businesses, including through platforms like last year’s CII Partnership Summit and today’s Technology Summit.  

6. For example, in the past year, the Singapore-India Partnership Office, the Confederation of Indian Industry and the Singapore Logistics Association conducted two joint professional certification courses for members of the Indian logistics sector, covering digitalisation, innovation and automation. We were encouraged by the active participation, and are working towards more joint professional courses to support India’s effort to enhance the capabilities of its logistics sector. 

GROWING OUR PARTNERSHIP IN SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, AND INNOVATION

7. This Summit marks another milestone in our bilateral ties as we seek to deepen India — Singapore economic relations through science, technology, and innovation.

8. The Global Innovation Alliance (or GIA) is a good example.  It is an initiative by Enterprise Singapore and Singapore’s Economic Development Board to build a network of partnerships between Singapore and international companies in major innovation hubs and key markets. We launched GIA Bangalore, the first GIA node in India, in October 2019. It is one of 16 GIA nodes around the world today. GIA Bangalore has partnered with in-market partners, such as investment and scaling platform Anthill Ventures, to connect Singapore companies to overseas business and tech communities, and help Indian startups use Singapore as a springboard to scale up their operations in Asia. 

9. Since its launch, GIA Bangalore has facilitated the efforts of 200 Singapore SMEs and startups seeking to explore the Indian market. One such Singapore company is Skymap Global, a geospatial AI and data analytics company that has partnered with Bajaj on crop insurance monitoring. The company is developing an algorithm to help Bajaj better verify damages for insurance claims made by farmers by tracking locust movement and assessing the damages caused by them. Skymap’s CEO Dr Abhay Mittal will be speaking later today at the Space Tech panel. This is just one of the interesting collaborations that have come out of the GIA programme. We look forward to developing more GIA nodes across India. 

10. Let me share another example. Just two weeks ago, on 8 February, principal investigators from the Bioinformatics Institute at Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology & Research partnered two research institutes in India — the Institute of Bioinformatics and Applied Biotechnology, and the National Centre for Biological Sciences — to hold a symposium. I am told the discussions were fruitful, revolving around synthetic biology, the clinical applications of AI in imaging, and biomedical and clinical data integration and analysis. The researchers recognised that they have been working together in the fight against COVID-19 as a part of the Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data, or GISAID. They also discussed the impact of their work on mapping Asian genomes, mental health, and biomedical and clinical data analytics in health and disease.  I understand that the researchers found much common ground for future collaboration and I am optimistic that such a meeting of minds will catalyse far-reaching cooperation in science and technology.

11. We should sustain this momentum. Which is why I am glad that MTI and DST have signed an MOU on Science, Technology and Innovation today. There are many areas we can work on together. As the world faces the climate crisis, further disruptions to global supply chains and the specter of future public health crises, international collaborations in technology and research are vital to building commercially viable solutions that can save lives and livelihoods.  

12. I would like to suggest three particular areas, which are by no means exhaustive, in which Singapore and India could push the boundaries by combining our R&D talent and resources: 

13. First, deeptech. Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things (or IoT) hold much potential in a wide range of areas.  This includes the construction and built environment sector, which we seek to transform to become more integrated and resilient. This will lay the foundation for us to build smarter and more sustainable cities. 

14. Second, cleantech. Both our countries have announced ambitious carbon mitigation plans. India has also launched the National Hydrogen Mission and accelerated its investments into renewable energy projects. R&D advancements in this domain could have a profound impact on greening the power and transportation sectors, particularly aviation and maritime transport. 

15. Third, genome and bioinformatics research. Some of our researchers, including from A*STAR’s Genome Institute of Singapore, have embarked on the ambitious task of mapping Asian genomes, which I understand is an understudied and underpopulated dataset. This could be coupled with ongoing efforts in India to develop a similar dataset. 

16. Cross border flows of data, such as from IoT sensors in buildings and cities to inform better urban planning, are crucial to the success of such initiatives. We therefore look forward to the finalisation and passing of the Personal Data Protection Bill in India, which will facilitate such cross border data flows.

17. The MOU and Implementation Agreement that have just been signed will allow us to explore the three areas, and many others, for collaboration. They will encourage, develop, and facilitate collaborative projects in fields of mutual interest. 

18. The Implementation Agreement between Enterprise Singapore and the Department of Science and Technology will open new avenues for Singapore and Indian entities to connect, explore bilateral R&D and innovation cooperation, and embark on joint projects to capture new business opportunities and solve prevailing technological gaps. 

19. There will be more announcements in the months ahead as both entities work to facilitate interactions between Singapore and Indian business communities and R&D organisations, and match like-minded companies to determine joint innovation projects that can make a positive impact in both countries’ priority sectors. 

CONCLUSION


20. In my speech at the CII Partnership Summit in December 2021, I expressed optimism that Singapore and India are well-placed to embark on new areas of cooperation across various sectors. 

21. Science and Technology is one such important area of partnership between India and Singapore. I look forward to hearing more about the joint projects that we will embark on arising from the discussions between our companies and agencies later today and tomorrow. I wish everyone a successful India-Singapore Technology Summit.

22. Thank you. 

 
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