Speech by Minister for Education, Mr Chan Chun Sing, at the Launch of the Nanyang Technological University's 30th Anniversary Exhibition

Published Date: 09 December 2021 02:00 PM

News Speeches

Ms Jennie Chua, Pro-Chancellor of NTU,

Ms Goh Swee Chen, Chair of NTU's Board of Trustees,

Professor Subra Suresh, President of NTU,

Professor Su Guaning, President Emeritus of NTU,

Distinguished guests,

1. A very good afternoon to all of you. It is my pleasure to join you today to commemorate NTU's 30th anniversary and for the launch NTU's 30th anniversary exhibition.

2. 30 years is certainly a milestone worth celebrating and reflecting upon.

  1. As mentioned by Professor Subra Suresh, NTU has achieved much over the last 30 years. Today, NTU is an outstanding and well-rounded university.

3. When NTU was first established in 1991, there were just five schools teaching Accountancy and Business, Applied Science, and the various Engineering disciplines -- my sister was among the pioneer batch of NTU's School of Accountancy.

  1. In the span of just three decades, NTU has expanded to five major colleges, 13 schools, and five Autonomous Institutes today.
  2. While Engineering, Science, and Technology remain among its core strengths, NTU has also developed expertise in diverse fields including Maritime Studies, Sports Science, and Fine Arts.

4. Beyond teaching, NTU has also pursued excellence in research.

  1. For example, it pioneered local research in the earth and environmental life sciences, having established the Earth Observatory of Singapore in 2009 and the Singapore Centre for Environmental Life Sciences Engineering in 2011.
  2. NTU continues to be forward-looking and relevant in its research efforts, especially in areas aligned with Singapore's needs such as Resilient Urbanisation and Natural Ecosystems.

5. We are all proud of what NTU has achieved thus far. However, this 30th anniversary milestone is also an opportunity for NTU to envision and orient itself towards the future. Each and every decade will present its own challenges and opportunities, allowing NTU to build on its strengths, connections, and networks, and to establish itself as a point of trusted convergence for the region and the world.

6. The NTU 2025 strategy, which Professor Suresh just mentioned, re-imagines learning, innovation, and interdisciplinary collaboration, and this is a step in the right direction. It aims to build a versatile and future-ready community whose outlook extends to global and local challenges, and whose know-how involves harnessing technology to address our societal and environmental needs.

7. As we move into 2022 and beyond, I would like to take this opportunity to encourage NTU to continue to dream big and make the most of three big opportunities:

  1. First, to be the catalyst for Jurong 2.0.
  2. Second, to be the springboard for Southeast Asia's tech companies and talent.
  3. Third, to be the node of convergence for a fragmenting world.

Catalyst for Jurong 2.0 – NTU in Every Jurong Company

8. Let me elaborate. Fifty plus years ago, we commenced transforming swampland into today's Jurong Industrial Estate. In the next 50 years, we aspire for the next transformation of Jurong – from industrial park to innovation district.

9. First announced in 2016, the Jurong Innovation District (JID), aims to be Asia's leading advanced manufacturing hub, and is fast becoming a hive of activity, industry, and community in the west of Singapore.

  1. NTU is uniquely placed to be a focal point and catalyst for JID's growth and development.
    1. Not only is it geographically proximate, it enjoys strong and long-standing relationships with the industries in Jurong.
    2. NTU's strong corporate lab ecosystem and strengths in education, research, and innovation makes it well-positioned to anchor new industries in JID, such as clean energy solutions and precision medicine.
    3. NTU's institutional standing allows it to facilitate a two-way flow of talent with JID, to grow a talent pool with strong research capabilities, as well as the latest skills and industry knowledge.
  2. I am glad that some of NTU's engagements with JID are already underway, such as the recently signed collaboration with the Hyundai Motor Group, to explore sustainable technologies for the future of mobility. I look forward to seeing what NTU and its new neighbours will achieve together in the years to come.

10. When we realise our dream, NTU will not just be a university in Jurong, but there will be NTU DNA and involvement in every industry in Jurong. Likewise, the NTU campus will no longer just be on Nanyang Hill. The NTU campus will extend to every company in Jurong - and that is my first big wish for NTU.

Springboard for SEA Tech Companies and Talent

11. My second big dream is for NTU to be the springboard for Southeast Asian technology companies and talent.

12. The tech sector in Southeast Asia will be one of the growth drivers for the next lap of Southeast Asia's growth. Beyond the size of the Southeast Asian market, which is about 600-million at this point in time, we can be the platform and also the point of tech convergence for both East and West. We can be the gateway for companies beyond Southeast Asia to come and work with companies here. We can also be the platform that will enable companies in Southeast Asia to reach out to beyond the region, to the rest of the world.

13. NTU therefore has an opportunity to position itself as the foremost technological university in the region, and serve as a hub for Southeast Asia's 600-million strong technology talent pool.

14. NTU can also be the incubator of choice for the region's tech start-ups. Together with Singapore's positioning as the regional tech scale-up choice location, we can provide a holistic ecosystem of tech opportunities and financial access for aspiring technopreneurs.

15. In other words, we aspire for NTU to be the "Mecca for Southeast Asian tech talent and technopreneurs". We aspire to see NTU establishing deep and dense partnerships with the tech ecosystem of Southeast Asia, linking up with regional universities, research institutes, and start-up ecosystems, and in turn, linking these regional tech ecosystems with the world through the Singapore gateway, and on the Singapore platform.

Point of Convergence for a Fragmenting World

16. Third, I hope to see NTU serving as a point of convergence in an increasingly fragmented global environment.

  1. Singapore has established a hard-earned reputation for being an 'honest broker', and this extends to our key public institutions such as NTU.
  2. As NTU positions itself as a bridge for global connections, it will need strong institutes, academic units, and robust processes that build trust and mindshare amongst the global community.
  3. And there are already a few outstanding assets in NTU that can do this. The S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (or RSIS), the College of Engineering, and the Nanyang Business School are excellent examples, and allow NTU to provide significant value-add across both technological and non-technological domains.

17. So together with its NTU 2025 strategy, these exciting opportunities will allow NTU to reach even greater heights. These are my aspirations for NTU on its 30th anniversary, and I look forward to seeing the university achieve all these and more.

18. Coming back to where I started, 30 years is indeed a celebratory milestone. This exhibition reflects three decades of hard work, constant innovation in education, and commitment to preparing young people to be able contributors to Singapore and the world.

19. Congratulations to NTU – alumni, current faculty, and students, and also wishing you all the very best in the years to come to position NTU as a node - not just in Jurong and Singapore, but around the world.

20. Thank you very much.

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