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​NTU Singapore’s joint research institute in Guangzhou, China, receives S$61 million funding boost

Published on: 08-Dec-2020

A separate initiative for a new innovation base in Western China will also be set up for talent development 

Two Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) agreements to deepen research and talent development in China were announced today at the 16th Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) meeting, the highest-level annual forum between China and Singapore. 

Present at the virtual meeting were Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat and China’s vice premier Han Zheng, co-chairs of the JCBC meeting.

The first is a S$61 million (RMB300 million) funding for the Sino-Singapore International Joint Research Institute (SSIJRI) in Guangzhou, China’s hub for IT, biomedical science, and robotics.

In the second initiative, NTU will set up the NTU China (West) Entrepreneurship and Innovation Base in the Yubei District of Chongqing to develop next-generation entrepreneurs. It will leverage the University’s brand of world-class entrepreneurship education and create an innovation-driven ecosystem, while tapping on the city’s resources as a burgeoning entrepreneurship and innovation hub.

S$61 million to ramp up R&D at the Sino-Singapore International Joint Research Institute (SSIJRI)

As part of a new agreement, the SSIJRI will receive S$61 million (RMB 300 million) funding for its next phase of development over the next five years.

This includes setting up at least three research and development (R&D) centres that will focus on emerging industries such as digital technologies, new energy, and biomedical-related areas.

Co-founded by NTU, the China-Singapore Guangzhou Knowledge City (CSGKC) Administrative Committee, the South China University of Technology (SCUT), and the CSGKC Investment and Development Co., Ltd (GKC Co.), the joint research institute promotes research innovation and aims to turn scientific and technological achievements into marketable solutions for the society at large. It is expected to play a pivotal role in the Guangdong-Hongkong-Macau Greater Bay Area.

It was incepted in 2015 through an agreement witnessed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Chinese President Xi Jinping, and established two years later.

SSIJRI has since embarked on 45 innovative projects, yielding over 90 research papers published in renowned scientific journals. Aside from over 70 patent applications, the Institute has facilitated the licensing of five patents – with a total value of S$1.7 million (RMB 8.6 million) – from NTU to Chinese companies.

The Institute’s research teams have also set up three joint research centres, and collaborations with other industry partners are underway. 

Going forward, the SSIJRI aims to launch at least 40 new research projects and file at least 100 new patent applications by 2025. 

NTU Senior Vice-President (Research), Prof Lam Khin Yong, who co-chairs the SSIJRI’s Governing Council, said: “The Sino-Singapore International Joint Research Institute (SSIJRI) is a landmark project for scientific and technological collaboration between China and Singapore, and shows how a public-private collaboration model can yield remarkable results in translational research, technology commercialisation and incubation. Leveraging NTU Singapore’s strength in interdisciplinary research and strong credentials in technology innovations, the SSIJRI has resulted in a steady flow of innovative ideas that can be translated into real-world solutions. 

“The Institute’s work is aligned with the NTU Smart Campus vision of using tech-enabled solutions to support knowledge discovery and promote better learning and living experiences, and allows the University to push the frontiers of research and translate it into beneficial outcomes to better society on a wider scale.”

SCUT Vice President Professor Zhu Min, who also co-chairs the Institute’s Governing Council, said: “The agreement will bring new opportunities for the development of the Sino-Singapore International Joint Research Institute. SCUT will work together with NTU Singapore to build the Institute into an exemplary model of scientific and technological cooperation between China and Singapore.”

Successful research outcomes arising from the collaboration will be implemented at CSGKC, with the support of the GKC Co.

A CSGKC Administrative Committee spokesperson said: “With the elevation of China-Singapore Guangzhou Knowledge City’s strategic position, it is hoped that the Sino-Singapore International Joint Research Institute can be built into a new scientific research institute that takes the lead in technological cooperation and innovation between China and Singapore, and a new highland in international technological innovation in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area.”

Mr Chen Changxin, GKC Co. CEO, said: “The Sino-Singapore International Joint Research Institute is an iconic government-industry-academia collaboration between China and Singapore. GKC Co. will continue to support the Institute’s development and facilitate the commercialisation of the scientific and technological achievements from the Institute’s projects.”

SSIJRI is expected to move into its headquarters at the China-Singapore Smart Park in the core of China-Singapore Guangzhou Knowledge City’s Southern Start-Up Area in mid-2021. The 23,000 sqm space will house R&D facilities, research and administration personnel, as well as the Institute’s spin-off companies.  

New NTU China (West) Entrepreneurship and Innovation Base for talent development

The new NTU China (West) Entrepreneurship and Innovation Base in Yubei, Chongqing, is an industry-academia collaboration between NTU and the Chongqing Yubei District People’s Government (YDPG) that aims to jointly develop talent and create an ecosystem driven by innovation and entrepreneurship.

It will be set up in the Xiantao International Big Data Valley, where more than 700 companies have set up offices, including big names such as Microsoft and Qualcomm.

Under a joint talent development platform, both parties will explore setting up a new joint MiniMasters™ programme on technopreneurship, where students attend hybrid classes on the NTU campus in Singapore and at the Innovation Base in Chongqing. 

NTU will also introduce certification courses to groom entrepreneurial leaders to meet the needs of western China, and to raise the quality of entrepreneurship education in the region.

This builds on an NTU-YDPG internship programme launched in May, through which NTU students can experience the vibrancy and agility of the tech companies in Yubei and build up expertise in fast-growing fields such as big data and artificial intelligence.

Aside from talent development, the Innovation Base also aims to develop a thriving ecosystem that brings together innovative ideas and resources from Singapore and around the world.

NTU Deputy President and Provost, Prof Ling San said that NTU’s latest partnership with the Chongqing Yubei District People’s Government on entrepreneurship education builds on the two parties’ earlier agreement where NTU students take on technology-related internship opportunities in the Yubei district. 

“Pairing the University’s broad and vibrant approach to entrepreneurship with Chongqing’s industrial advantages creates an innovation ecosystem that nurtures next-generation entrepreneurs in China. This in turn creates a conducive environment for NTU students to experience the agility of the startup companies there,” said Prof Ling.

Mr Tan Qing, Chief Executive of the YDPG, said: “Yubei District is Chongqing’s launchpad to the world and a crucial foundation of the China-Singapore (Chongqing) Demonstration Initiative on Strategic Connectivity. It is aggressively pursuing an innovation-driven development strategy to establish five mega industry clusters, each worth at least RMB100 billion. 

“Yubei District and NTU will jointly establish a new innovation base to further strengthen mutual co-operation in talent development as well as innovation and liberalisation of the digital economy. This initiative will signal a high watermark in China-Singapore relations and propel Chongqing’s leadership in the liberalisation and development of the western region.”


Media contact:

Foo Jie Ying
Manager, Corporate Communications Office 
Nanyang Technological University

About Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

A research-intensive public university, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) has 33,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students in the Engineering, Business, Science, Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences, and Graduate colleges. It also has a medical school, the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, established jointly with Imperial College London.

NTU is also home to world-class autonomous institutes – the National Institute of Education, S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Earth Observatory of Singapore, and Singapore Centre for Environmental Life Sciences Engineering – and various leading research centres such as the Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NEWRI) and Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N).

Ranked amongst the world’s top universities by QS, NTU has also been named the world’s top young university for the past seven years. The University’s main campus is frequently listed among the Top 15 most beautiful university campuses in the world and has 57 Green Mark-certified (equivalent to LEED-certified) buildings, of which 95% are certified Green Mark Platinum. Apart from its main campus, NTU also has a campus in Novena, Singapore’s healthcare district.

Under the NTU Smart Campus vision, the University harnesses the power of digital technology and tech-enabled solutions to support better learning and living experiences, the discovery of new knowledge, and the sustainability of resources.

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