Professor Subra Suresh, President of Nanyang Technological University (NTU),
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. Good morning. It is a pleasure to join you today to launch the EcoLabs Digital Twin Co-Innovation Lab and the NTU-Arrow Invent Lab.
2. As the world makes the transition towards carbon neutrality, how we consume energy will play a major role in sustaining economic development. Global events such as the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war serve as timely reminders of the importance of seeking alternative energy sources, including renewables, to enhance our energy security and reduce dependence on carbon-based fuels. Businesses must therefore also start to seek and adopt energy-efficient solutions to manage their operational costs in the longer-term.
3. Innovative solutions are vital to achieve decarbonisation and ensure energy efficiency. The Government is committed to supporting businesses in their innovation journey, in collaboration with all other stakeholders.
The green transition requires businesses to innovate to remain competitive globally
4. The Singapore Green Plan 2030 that was launched has set concrete and ambitious targets as we seek to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by or around mid-century.
5. One pathway is through decarbonising our economy. Six months ago at the Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW) in October 2021, we announced our plans to achieve an “Energy Reset” by decarbonising the power sector. This is critical because the power sector contributes almost 40 percent of our national emissions. The transition will require transformations in our energy supply and demand, as well as our energy grid, while ensuring that Singapore’s power system remains secure, reliable, and sustainable.
6. Another pathway to achieve our net-zero carbon emissions target is by raising our energy efficiency standards. This was highlighted by the Energy Market Authority’s (EMA) Energy 2050 Committee Report released last month in March. By diversifying our energy supply and adopting emerging technologies, higher energy efficiency will balance growing energy demand amid business expansion. The report also lays out strategies to transit to a net-zero power sector and highlights opportunities for Singapore to become a frontrunner in sustainable solutions.
7. In a rapidly evolving world, businesses will need to be nimble and innovative to retain a competitive edge. Singapore companies will seize opportunities arising from the momentum of decarbonisation and intensify their innovation efforts. By applying emerging technologies to create innovative solutions for the clean energy sector, companies can offer a unique value proposition to better compete globally.
8. We have been sharing with companies here that it is not about cost, but about comparative advantage. This is why six months ago, Enterprise Singapore launched the S$180 million Enterprise Sustainability Programme (ESP) to support our companies. For our local companies to differentiate themselves, it is also critical that Singapore businesses embed green- and digital-related considerations throughout their product and service development.
The Government will support business innovation via a multi-stakeholder approach
9. In the energy sector, innovations typically have a long gestation period. We understand that startups and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) face several challenges in their innovation journey. One of the challenges is translating fundamental technology principles into products at commercial scale. A multidisciplinary approach is often required to overcome the technical challenges, for which startups seldom have the full suite of capabilities. Yet another challenge is the need to build the minimum track record and deployment required for industry acceptance. In this regard, to facilitate the innovation journey by businesses, Enterprise Singapore has supported the establishment of Centres of Innovation, or COIs, in partnership with polytechnics and research institutes.
10. EcoLabs is one such COI established by NTU in partnership with Enterprise Singapore and the Sustainable Energy Association of Singapore. EcoLabs serves the innovation needs of energy companies by connecting them with research institutes, investors, business associations, and government agencies, all in one location. NTU is committed to facilitate and catalyse technology commercialisation and to ensure that R&D discovery translates into enterprise formation. We are very happy to see many spin-off companies joining us today. EcoLabs will help businesses shorten the developmental runway of technologies by providing multidisciplinary technical support and access to equipment. It will also build industry capabilities via technical training workshops and industry outreach programs.
11. EcoLabs also plays another important role - which is to aggregate problem statements and testbed infrastructure from private sector players. This will help nascent solution providers build up their track record and cultivate a stronger culture of open innovation amongst industry players.
12. The EcoLabs Digital Twin Co-Innovation Lab and the NTU-Arrow Invent Lab, which are being launched today, aim to expand on the already well-rounded innovation support offered by EcoLabs. The EcoLabs Digital Twin Co-Innovation Lab provides an integrated platform that can help solution developers accelerate the translation of their innovations into commercially viable products, especially in areas of decarbonisation and energy efficiency. Through the platform, startups and SMEs can access research and development resources, lab infrastructure, testbed sites and business opportunities. In one location, you can bring your idea to fruition.
13. Similarly, the establishment of the NTU-Arrow Invent Lab at EcoLabs will create new opportunities for startups and SMEs. They can accelerate their product development and commercialisation efforts through partnerships with Arrow Electronics, a global trader specialising in electronic components and computer products. By tapping on Arrow Electronics’ domain expertise and resources, they can develop innovative technology solutions in areas such as the Internet of Things (IoT), automobiles, and electric vehicles.
14. This partnership was mooted by Enterprise Singapore, after identifying synergies between Arrow’s aim of building up their own technical and innovation capabilities, and the complementary expertise and connections in the innovation ecosystem that NTU could offer. This is a wonderful testimony to the gain initiative that Professor Suresh talked about – strengthening the nexus between the innovation ecosystem with NTU and industries, and supported by public sector agencies like Enterprise Singapore.
15. Arrow Electronics is no stranger to Singapore. It has been extensively trading and re-distributing electronics products through Singapore. This partnership with NTU, which was facilitated by Enterprise Singapore, demonstrates its commitment to expand its presence here via more innovation partnerships and activities. This is aligns well with our Trade 2030 vision, which is to widen the range of activities of global traders like Arrow Electronics in Singapore.
16. With EcoLabs’ enhanced capabilities, I am confident that it will fast-track product development, co-create clean energy solutions, and transform the local energy ecosystem. This will bring us closer to achieving our national energy targets and overcoming global challenges.
17. In closing, recent events and long-term trends underscore the need for us to forge ahead with our transition towards a sustainable and carbon-neutral economy. We cannot pause and think about relying on fossil fuels every time the temptation arises. We have to press ahead in this journey. This move will offer many opportunities for startups, SMEs and even MNCs to innovate and stay globally competitive. To support this wave of innovation, I want to assure you that the Government will work with various stakeholders so that businesses can pursue their aspirations. I look forward to seeing the ideas generated today at EcoLabs, nurtured into full-fledged solutions for tomorrow’s world.
18. Once again, on behalf of the Ministry of Trade and Industry and Enterprise Singapore, I would like to extend my heartiest congratulations to NTU and all partners on the launch. this initiative is a powerful, clean tech innovation ecosystem where our startups and SMEs can bring their ideas to market. Thank you.