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France-Singapore Year of Innovation concludes

Deputy Prime Minister Mr Teo Chee Hean concluded the France-Singapore Year of Innovation during his recent diplomatic trip to France.

Three Outcomes from a Fruitful Year

The designated year sought to promote cooperation on innovation on a variety of sectors such as smart and sustainable cities, fintech, startups and emerging technologies, and more. Through a series of events and activities, deeper collaboration between the countries was fosters. Over sixty activities have been organised within a span of eleven months. Additionally, larger pool of stakeholders in the innovation ecosystems was grown, laying the groundwork for greater bilateral cooperation in innovation beyond the Year of Innovation. Three outcomes have transpired – New Players, New Platforms and New Perspectives.

DPM Teo said, “This was a timely development. We are both acutely aware of the transformative power of innovation. We value its capacity to do good, and to enrich and improve lives. We invest considerable resources to nurture it and prepare our people for its impact, by recognising it as both a challenge and an opportunity. We also understand that even as we develop our national capacity to innovate, it is essential to collaborate in innovation, especially with partners we trust and with whom we share a similar world view and enjoy complementarities.”

New Players in Innovation

More new players have entered and collaborated thanks to the Year of Innovation.

“The Year of Innovation has strengthened the connections between our research, innovation and enterprise sectors, and brought together new players to start new areas of collaboration,” said DPM Teo.

The AI Singapore-France AI workshop held in Singapore this June is a good example. Gathering AI experts from both countries, the Workshop featured a keynote address by Mr Mr Cédric Villani, author of the French strategy on AI.

Additionally, new connections have been established by startup communities.

Explaining, DPM Teo said, “This is an important constituency, given the important role that startups – particularly deep tech startups – will play in the economy of the future. Over the past year, we have seen many activities targeted at startups…These activities have put a useful spotlight on how French and Singapore startups can leverage each other’s ecosystems to scale up into each other’s markets, and beyond.”

He was referencing the pitch competition, AMPLIFY, organised by the Singapore Embassy in France, Girls in Tech Paris, VivaTech in Paris and the Singapore Week of Innovation and TeCHnology (SWITCH).

New Platforms for Innovation

A second major accomplishment is new platforms. These include Live with AI, the Singapore edition of Hello Tomorrow, and the establishment of the French Lab Singapore.

Live with AI is an independent think tank which conducts joint research on AI. Hello Tomorrow supports the development and commercialisation of deep tech innovations in Singapore and the region. French Lab Singapore serves to strengthen interactions between French and Singaporean research communities.

DPM Teo expressed confidence that these platforms will catalyse new ideas and create new breakthroughs in problem-driven innovation.

New Perspectives from Collaboration for Innovation

A dawn of new perspectives is the third productive outcome. New perspectives are born when there is collaboration, leading to better use of technologies to improve the lives of people.

“The Year of Innovation has encouraged our innovation players to look at our collaboration from a more strategic and longer-term perspective. They have also injected political momentum for bilateral agreements or new initiatives to institutionalise our collaboration in the priority sectors,” offered DPM Teo.

Several MoUs have been signed to cooperate deeply in areas such as autonomous vehicles, circular economy and AI. The recently inked EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement and Investment Protection Agreement, for example, will create greater market access in innovation-related fields and new business opportunities for companies in EU and ASEAN. The Agreement has yet to be ratified by the European Parliament.

Concluding, DPM Teo recognised that more work has been cut out for both government, researchers and enterprises. He said, “We have started many new areas and platforms for cooperation, and we will need to follow up closely to ensure that they bear fruit. But in truth, efforts at the governmental level can only go so far. To fully achieve our objectives, it is critical that the communities across our research, innovation and enterprise sectors find enough value in the collaboration to make the necessary investments in time and resource. As the old saying goes, we can take the horse to the water, but we cannot make it drink.”

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