Let­ter from Sin­ga­pore: Knowl­edge at the Core

Norway-Asia Business Review - - Contents - By H.E. Nor­we­gian Am­bas­sador to Sin­ga­pore Mr. Tormod C. En­dresen

This week a group of Nor­we­gian Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment vis­ited Sin­ga­pore – the Stand­ing Com­mit­tee on Re­search and Ed­u­ca­tion. Their pur­pose was twofold. Firstly, we wanted to ex­plore the close link­ages be­tween re­search and business de­vel­op­ment in Sin­ga­pore, in short how knowl­edge trans­lates into money in this econ­omy. Se­condly, their visit al­lowed for a quick look at an ed­u­ca­tional sys­tem that dif­fers sig­nif­i­cantly from ours. It be­came an in­ter­est­ing visit – for the vis­it­ing Par­lia­men­tar­i­ans and for us at the Em­bassy. We were re­minded of the im­por­tance of knowl­edge for any mod­ern econ­omy, and we got a good look at how knowl­edge is be­ing built in Sin­ga­pore. Most re­search ac­tiv­i­ties in Sin­ga­pore are aimed at de­vel­op­ing this na­tion’s com­pet­i­tive edge. The gov­ern­ment spends a good 1% of the GDP on re­search, and the in­dus­try it­self more than matches that amount. Much of the gov­ern­ment-funded re­search is car­ried out in close col­lab­o­ra­tion with in­dus­try, to en­sure that re­search find­ings re­sult in mar­ketable prod­ucts and ser­vices. One ex­am­ple of such team­work is the Off­shore Tech­nol­ogy Cen­ter at the Na­tional Univer­sity of Sin­ga­pore (NUS), which is run jointly by the Univer­sity and the ship and rig-builder group Kep­pel. Know­ing the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of NUS and Kep­pel I know that this cen­ter will be­come an im­por­tant cen­ter of knowl­edge – in an in­dus­try of strate­gic im­por­tance to Norway, and sit­u­ated in an area where we will see large in­vest­ments in off­shore ex­plo­ration and pro­duc­tion in the years to come. We can chose to see this as a chal­lenge or an op­por­tu­nity. I am con­vinced - our re­sponse must be to team up with Sin­ga­porean and other part­ners – to make sure that Nor­we­gian know how and com­pa­nies can help de­liver the en­ergy to fuel Asia’s growth. For­tu­nately, In­no­va­tion Norway has made sure that there al­ready are close ties be­tween NUS and peo­ple at Mar­in­tek and SINTEF. Dur­ing the visit, we also made sure that our Par­lia­men­tar­i­ans met some mem­bers of the Nor­we­gian business com­mu­nity. After be­ing im­pressed with strate­gic Sin­ga­porean re­search poli­cies, th­ese meet­ings were in a way re­as­sur­ing. We were re­minded that Nor­we­gian com­pa­nies play in the premier league, too, no­tably in the mar­itime and off­shore sec­tors. Our com­pa­nies are at­trac­tive part­ners – pre­cisely be­cause of their knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence. They are not the least ex­pen­sive, but they of­fer a kind of qual­ity that there is still in high de­mand, in par­tic­u­lar where re­li­a­bil­ity and safety re­ally mat­ters. We can con­tinue to meet this de­mand, pro­vided we keep de­vel­op­ing our ca­pa­bil­i­ties. Nor­we­gian in­dus­try has shown a re­mark­able abil­ity to rein­vent it­self, to trans­form strong com­pe­ten­cies into some­thing new. That is how a strong mar­itime tra­di­tion helped us be­come a global oil and gas na­tion, how our knowl­edge of fish­eries is at the base of our suc­cess in

Nor­we­gian in­dus­try has shown a re­mark­able abil­ity to rein­vent it­self, to trans­form strong com­pe­ten­cies into some­thing new.

aqua­cul­ture. That is also how Nor­we­gian start-ups in Sin­ga­pore use our on-line ex­pe­ri­ence to cap­ture the business op­por­tu­ni­ties made by the mil­lions of Asians who hook up to the web ev­ery month. I am con­vinced that we will see sim­i­lar con­ver­sions of knowl­edge in the fu­ture. If we suc­ceed in trans­form­ing our knowl­edge, it be­comes a re­new­able re­source. That will re­quire that we al­low our­selves to be chal­lenged by op­por­tu­ni­ties and part­ner­ships in new mar­kets. It will also re­quire a con­tin­ued in­vest­ment in re­search and in­no­va­tion, and an ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem that foster the tal­ents of to­mor­row. Knowl­edge will re­main at the core of what Norway of­fers the world. That was the num­ber one take-away for our vis­it­ing Par­lia­men­tar­i­ans – and an im­por­tant mes­sage to re­in­force for all of us who work to pro­mote Nor­we­gian in­ter­ests abroad.

Photo: TNCC

H.E. Am­bas­sador Tormod C. En­dresen lead­ing the par­tic­i­pants through the sum­mit agenda.

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