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Good Science = Great Business 2018 Festival Gala Dinner


27 September 2018

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Thank you for your warm welcome.

What a wonderful occasion this is to round off what has surely been an exhilarating and action-packed day for me, the final day of the 2018 Good Science = Great Business festival here in Singapore.

I am thrilled that the timing allowed me to join the festival program following my recent appointment as Australia’s Minister for Industry, Science and Technology.

And I’m enormously grateful to the Australian High Commission, organisers and participants for your efforts across the hugely successful month-long program. They have been outstanding and deserve our applause.

I would like to shine a bright light on the achievements and opportunities of this month.

Australia-Singapore science and innovation cooperation

To comment broadly first, not only have Australia’s top scientists, researchers, entrepreneurs and business leaders demonstrated our significant innovation and science capability, they have shown us the extraordinary opportunities and potential of working together across sectors, nations and a whole region.

Building on our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, Australia and Singapore continue to work together to develop and commercialise world-class science and innovation that will drive industry, business and economic growth in both our countries and the ASEAN region.

Singapore and Australia are natural partners in these pursuits, and we have as our foundation a longstanding relationship of mutual trust, respect, friendship and common purpose.

The spirit of the festival – common messages

In hearing about the festival highlights, I picked up an energy and enthusiasm that ran right through the program, and a strong sense of optimism about the opportunities on offer for cooperation and commercialisation in Singapore and the region.

I want to share with you some of the messages that emerged across different forums.

They are clear, simple and humane, and should give us great heart for our future together.

Our people-to-people connections are critical in bringing cultures together, and opening doors for scientific breakthroughs, economic growth, social cohesion, and a safe and secure regional environment.

We need to open our borders to trade and investment to ensure economic growth.

If you want to travel fast, travel solo. If you want to travel far, travel together.

In a world that is becoming more sceptical of the facts, and more distracted by shortening media cycles, the real truth for business is that in order to survive and thrive they need to innovate, and they need science to innovate.

Put simply, science needs business, business needs science and our nations need both.

I understand this has been a common theme throughout Good Science = Great Business.

And I am a committed believer in this approach.

I am an engineer and, with that background, since entering politics I have been an advocate of all things science and STEM.

And as one of the first two female engineering graduates from my university, I am an even noisier advocate for women studying and pursuing careers in STEM.

Australia, Singapore, ASEAN, the region and the world are missing out if women and girls are missing out.

And I know these sentiments were voiced by many of the senior women speakers and leaders at the festival.

Women spoke of being driven by passion, curiosity, creativity and determination as they shared their experiences working in science and innovation.

They talked about gender diversity as a benefit, not a threat, to new ideas, better outcomes, growth and prosperity. They argued against tired old norms that if we hold onto will only hold us back, all of us, men and women.

“Empower women and they will rise to the occasion!” echoed loud and clear throughout the program.

These messages give you an idea of the overwhelming spirit of the festival.

Showcase, leverage and collaborate

And I can say that this spirit was very productively channelled in the festival’s three key areas of focus.

First, to showcase the brilliance of Australian science, and our scientists and their partners in industry and business, as well as the world-ranking calibre of our universities, research agencies and organisations.

Australia has an impressive record of contribution to scientific discovery and invention over many decades.

We’ve had 15 Nobel Laureates, one of whom will share his wisdom with us tonight.

The Australian Government, and I as the responsible Minister, are making sure that the science, technology and industry sectors are supported by strategic investments—both public, and incentivised through the private sector—that will enable them to work together, innovate, and build successful, competitive enterprises.

And that leads me to the second focus of the festival – what is already happening here in Singapore between Australian and Singaporean universities, industry and corporate partners, and innovation ecosystems.

The opportunities here in Singapore and the broader ASEAN region for Australian entrepreneurs, researchers, startups and businesses to collaborate across many sectors are vast and growing.

Earlier today, I spent some time:

- at the launch of the James Cook University Tropical Futures Research Institute,

- at Australia’s Landing Pad in Singapore,

- talking with the chair of A*STAR, Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research, Mr Lim Chuan Poh,

- accompanying an Australian medtech trade mission at a panel session with medtech experts giving their insights and advice on the local and regional market,

- and attending a seminar exploring developments in defence design, science and industry, and the opportunities for collaboration between the Australian and Singapore defence sectors to build our future defence capabilities.

With the recent launch of the Australian National University and CSIRO offices in Singapore, the presence of these world-class research institutions and innovation catalysts will expand and strengthen Australia’s partnerships with ASEAN governments, researchers and businesses, open up markets and collaboration networks, and add value at every stage of the supply chain.

There’s a lot underway, and infinite more we can do together – the festival’s third area of focus, and one that I spoke to in detail earlier this evening at the National University of Singapore, setting out Australia’s vision for engaging on innovation and science in the ASEAN region.

I was privileged to have the opportunity to address an esteemed and engaged audience about issues that are critical to my ministerial portfolio and that drive me in my public role.

My hope is that my comments will help stimulate the next wave of ideas and enriching dialogue between us, paving the way for widespread collaboration across the ASEAN region.

And I look forward to Australia leading with Singapore and the ASEAN nations to make this happen.

We all know that innovation and an embrace of industry, science and technology must be at the centre of our economic policies – to drive growth, job opportunities and prosperity.

And we know too that working in partnership is the lifeblood of innovation.

Ladies and gentlemen, Good Science = Great Business has been a spectacular success in uplifting and energising this message.

Congratulations and sincere thanks.

Media contact: Minister Andrews' office 02 6277 7070