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Science, innovation and the future of defence capability

Singapore

27 September 2018

***Check against delivery***

Introduction

I am thrilled to be able to join the Good Science = Great Business program here in Singapore following my recent appointment as Australian Minister for Industry, Science and Technology.

The September festival really has been a celebration of the very best of science, innovation and business nurtured through the Australia-Singapore partnership.

I sincerely thank the Australian High Commission and partner organisations for putting together this outstanding month-long program.

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 collaboration 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.

Australia-Singapore cooperation

Singapore is a natural partner for Australia in these pursuits. 

We have a longstanding relationship of mutual trust, respect, friendship and common purpose around science, innovation and trade.

Earlier today I spent some time:

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

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.

Defence industry collaboration

Of course, this afternoon’s seminar session is focused on exploring developments in defence design, science and industry, and the opportunities for collaboration between our defence sectors.

Again, Singapore and Australia have a long history of working together in this field, and for the peace, stability and security of the Asia Pacific region.

Australia is investing 200 billion Australian dollars in strengthening our defence capabilities.

We’re seeking to grow our defence industry with an emphasis on science and innovation, while also building skills and creating jobs for Australians now and into the future.

We’re supporting our companies and research institutions to develop their technologies, products and services to meet our Defence Force’s needs, and we’re encouraging them to work with close partners.

There are some exciting opportunities ahead in this regard for Australia and Singapore.

For example, I’m delighted we have here today representatives from the Australian Defence Innovation Hub, specifically funded to collaborate on innovation projects from initial concept through prototyping and testing, to introduction into service.

You will hear from them in this session about the joint opportunities for our nations’ industry and research organisations to solve mutual innovation challenges. More on this later!

And it’s important to note too that there are already some strong commercial ties between our industry players – Australia’s APC Technology and Singapore’s ST Engineering, and Australia’s Prism Defence and Singapore’s ST Marine – just to name two of these partnerships in a growing defence industry space.

STEM skills

As our defence industries develop, our shared challenge is to ensure that we invest in our people, and, in particular, to make sure men and, very important, women too, are developing strong skills in the STEM disciplines.

Clearly, science, technology, engineering and maths skills are fundamental to building our defence capabilities.

Indeed, our capabilities in all areas, as we navigate the technological disruption that is occurring around the world, and as we embrace its opportunities for further innovation, growth and competition.

As an engineer before coming to the parliament, it is a personal passion and commitment of mine to do what I can in my role as minister to advocate for STEM in all its applications.

Conclusion

Ladies and gentlemen, I very much look forward to today’s discussion.

Many thanks to everyone here for your contribution to this vital exchange of ideas.

I admire your enthusiasm for continuing the strong and positive relationship between Australia and Singapore, and I place great store in the exciting work of our scientific communities and defence industry sectors in securing our future defence capability.