Driving innovation through a powerful synergy between academia, industry and research

The first Platinum Fireside Chat of the A*STAR Global Network was held at SMU, reflecting powerful ties in deep tech innovation
By the SMU Corporate Communications team

The inaugural A*STAR Global Network (AGN) Platinum Fireside Chat was held recently at Singapore Management University (SMU). The AGN is the alumni network of A*STAR and it was an enthusiastic audience of leaders from the A*STAR Global Network, Singtel, and the SMU community who gathered at the Greenhouse to catch the Fireside Chat, headlined by keynote speaker Mr Ng Tian Chong, CEO of Singtel Singapore.

“This event is more than a gathering,” said Professor Sun Sun Lim, SMU’s Vice President for Partnerships and Engagement in her welcome address on 25 March 2024. “It's a shared celebration of our shared commitment to innovation, symbolising the powerful synergy between academia, industry, and research.”

The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR ), she noted, has succeeded in converting laboratory discoveries into globally impactful solutions, enabling it to provide a robust platform for nurturing enterprises that lead their industries, showcasing Singapore's leadership in the global deep tech landscape.

SMU is supporting the growth of deep tech in Singapore

Likewise, she said, SMU has demonstrated its commitment to cultivating a supportive ecosystem to nourish deep tech innovations with two key initiatives. First, SMU’s Business Innovations Generator (BIG) incubator programme has supported over 490 startups. Furthermore, the Lee Kuan Yew Global Business Plan Competition (LKYGBPC), which she called SMU’s ‘jewel in the crown’ has become a global magnet for university-affiliated deep tech startups, drawing over 1,000 applications from over 1,100 universities globally, she shared.

“These efforts have catalysed the dynamic collaboration between A*STAR and SMU, blending more than just two institutions to establish a fertile ground for innovation,” she said. “As we engage in more joint efforts such as these — whether through collaboration in this space, hosting more events, or mentorship programmes — we aim to unite like-minded individuals to make a significant impact and expand the ecosystem.”

“To underline our commitment, I am pleased to say SMU is honoured to serve as a key node in Singapore’s deep tech ecosystem and host A*STAR’s Global Network right here in the city, right here in our Greenhouse,” she said.

“Together, we stand as the gateway to Asia, crafting a future where deep-tech innovation tackles our most formidable challenges,” she noted. She added that she expected the fireside chat would “spark a collaborative movement, driving strategic partnerships to tackle societal issues and fueling the discourse essential for deep tech commercialisation and contribution to the global economy.”

Keynote on 5G and its benefits to Singapore

In his engaging keynote address, Mr Ng spoke about Singtel's achievements in deploying standalone 5G networks and how it could benefit Singapore’s rise as a concert venue by offering network slicing to allow concert-goers to have seamless connectivity. It can also provide smooth high-speed connectivity and massive bandwidth for manufacturing operations at Hyundai Motor Group Innovation Centre in Singapore. A Singtel trial at the National University Health System (NUHS) has also shown how using Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality technology on a 5G network could accelerate the delivery of ultrasound scan results.

He also spoke about the need to guard against cyber threats, and shared how Singtel has blazed a trail of innovation in the telco industry.

Innovations against cyber threats

Mr Ng also participated in a vibrant panel discussion with Associate Professor Gao Debin of SMU School of Computing and Information Systems and Dr Li Xiaoli, Head of the Institute of Infocomm Research at A*STAR. The moderator was Mr Ng Choon Peng, President of A*STAR Global Network.

Assoc Prof Gao spoke of how he is using AI to enhance understanding and notify the public about scam tactics. He emphasised the importance of collaborative efforts in magnifying the effectiveness of combating cyber threats.

Dr Li noted the importance of machine learning in dealing with online scams and the critical importance of interdisciplinary collaboration, especially in a resource-limited context like Singapore. Other leaders in attendance were SMU’s Vice Provost (Research) Professor Archan Misra and Mr Suresh Sachi, Deputy CE of A*STAR. The panel discussion attracted many enthusiastic questions from the floor.

In his concluding remarks, Mr Ng of Singtel said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it. There’s a lot going on and we at Singtel are excited to be part of this journey.”