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Singapore and France are natural partners in innovation

Photo Credit: French Chamber Singapore

In a speech by Mr Heng Swee Keat, Minister for Finance and Chairman of the National Research Foundation, at the Closing Ceremony of the France Singapore Year of Innovation on 15 March 2019 at Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, he highlighted how Singapore and France have partnered in innovation and the initiatives that were rolled out over ‘the France-Singapore year of innovation’ 2018.

Singapore and France are natural partners in innovation

Former President Hollande and Prime Minister Lee issued the Joint Declaration on Innovation between France and Singapore in 2017 and designated 2018 as the France-Singapore Year of Innovation.

Over 60 have been were organised, with the support of our respective embassies. By bringing together our businesses, entrepreneurs, researchers, students and officials, new areas for cooperation have been created.

To support the cross-border exchange of start-ups, we launched the Global Innovation Alliance (GIA) activities in Paris, the first in Europe, making the city a gateway for our start-ups in Europe.

We also launched French Tech Singapore. It brings together French entrepreneurs in Singapore, and supports their ventures into the Southeast Asia markets. This complements the GIA activities in Paris said Mr Heng Swee Keat

Singapore also made a debut appearance at the French tech convention, Viva Technology, in May 2018, with a large presence. A few months later, Secretary of State Mahjoubi led a delegation of French start-ups to the Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology (SWITCH).

To support further collaborations, Enterprise Singapore (ESG) and Bpifrance launched the first France-Singapore Call for Innovation Projects. Applications for the first call will close on 31 March, and I strongly encourage French and Singapore companies to apply for this.

Following the Year of Innovation, France and Singapore have agreed to further our innovation partnership by setting up the FranceSingapore Joint Committee on Science and Innovation.

This initiative will support France’s ambition to establish a dynamic innovation hub in Europe and globally, and Singapore’s drive to position Singapore as a GlobalAsia Node of Technology, Innovation and Enterprise.

Strengthening Ties with France and the EU

In 2018, France is Singapore’s second largest EU trading partner in goods, while we are France’s top trading partner in ASEAN, with total trade in goods amounting to about 21.3 billion Singapore dollars (or 14.0 billion Euros).

More than 2,000 French companies are in Singapore, the second highest from a EU Member State. Leading French companies in different sectors, such as Airbus, Bolloré Group, Engie, Roquette, Schneider Electric, and Thales have operations in Singapore, and also use Singapore as a base for their Asian operations.

Singapore companies such as Ascott Limited, City Developments Limited, Interplex, and ST Engineering also have presence in France. The strong bilateral relations between Singapore and France demonstrate our openness to international partnerships.

Last month, the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (EUSFTA) and the EUSingapore Investment Protection Agreement (EUSIPA) received the European Parliament’s consent with a strong majority. This marks a significant milestone in Singapore and the EU’s long standing relationship, and our shared commitment towards a rules-based multilateral trading system.

The EU is Singapore’s largest partner in services, third largest trading partner in goods, and our largest foreign investor. Over 10,000 EU companies are based in Singapore, making Singapore the top location for European investments in ASEAN. Similarly, Singapore is the EU’s largest trading partner in both goods and services in ASEAN.

A new phase in innovation partnerships.

The minister concluded that the  Year of Innovation marks a new phase in innovation partnerships. The establishment of the France-Singapore Joint Committee on Science and Innovation will help  research institutions, universities, businesses and start-ups to produce better results and outcomes to benefit the  two countries and peoples, and to contribute to the broader global development.

I am also glad that the Rencontres Economiques, the final event in the France Singapore Year of Innovation, has brought together leading academics, government officials and business leaders, to have a frank dialogue on the challenges of Industry 4.0 and Globalisation 4.0. concluded the Chairman of NRF

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