UK Innovation, Design And Technology: Accelerating Prosperity With Southeast Asia

British High Commission Singapore

June 2013


Innovation Forum jointly organised with British Council in Singapore as part of the UK South East Asia Knowledge Partnership (formerly UK ASEAN Knowledge Partnership) showcases UK strengths to businesses, policymakers and academics. Complemented by wider programme of activities with students and children the Forum delivers on key prosperity objectives in Singapore.


Innovation Forum

Singapore and many other countries in Southeast Asia are seeking to move towards more knowledge-based economies in order to maintain competitiveness and deliver growth in the global economy. This offers us an opportunity to highlight UK strengths and willingness to engage across education, research and policy areas.

The UK & Southeast Asia Innovation Forum held at the ArtScience Museum in Singapore on 7 June provided a showcase for public and private sector UK organisations, and the opportunity to identify opportunities for collaboration.  It was opened by Lord Green and his counterpart from Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry, Teo Ser Luck.  Both remarked on the potential for collaboration, the importance of small businesses and the role of both UK and Singapore as hubs in their respective networks.  They reiterated this in a joint Op-Ed in The Straits Times the next day.

An impressive line up of UK speakers included Iain Gray (CEO, Technology Strategy Board), Geoff McGrath (MD McLaren Applied Technologies) and Wing Commander Andy Green (holder of the World Land Speed Record and a member of the Bloodhound project team looking to beat it).  We secured good participation from across the region, with the MD of Singapore’s Agency for Science Technology and Research, the CEO of their National Research Foundation and a Deputy Minister from Indonesia’s Ministry of Research and Technology all taking part.

UK SMEs were also well represented with Caroline Plumb (CEO of Freshminds Group and a UKTI Business Ambassador) and Bare Conductive (which won a TSB competition) speaking alongside Arup about creativity and disruptive thinking.  A panel of UK designers featuring Paul Priestman (co-founder of PriestmanGoode) together with the regional directors from Benoy and Wilkinson Eyre was moderated by Chan Heng Chee, Singapore’s former ambassador to Washington and founding Chair of the Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities at Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD).

The GREAT branded backdrop, exhibition boards on UK innovation and the Bloodhound Driving Experience simulator will all provide a very helpful resource for sustained engagement with Singapore and the region.

Collaboration With Singapore

Iain Gray undertook a programme of discussions with Singapore’s key innovation agencies and policymakers before the Innovation Forum.  He identified good opportunities for collaboration, in some cases building on earlier engagement.

We also worked with SUTD to run a series of workshops for 200 pre-university students on innovative design and engineering the afternoon before the Innovation Forum.  Workshop facilitators included all of the speakers on creativity together with the James Dyson Foundation.  The afternoon started with a welcome from the CEO of Keppel Corporation and an inspirational talk from Andy Green.

Andy also gave a public talk about the science and engineering for the Bloodhound project at the Singapore Science Centre on the Saturday, which attracted an audience of about 200, mostly school age children.  He talked about the project not only showcasing excellent British Science and engineering, but also inspiring and engaging the next generation on the science and innovation that will be needed to tackle some of the challenges our societies face.  Many seized the chance to match themselves against Andy on the driving simulator we had built.  A Straits Times article and a BBC tv interview helped us to obtain extensive Singapore and regional coverage and impact.

Regional Prosperity Opportunities

Support from the Expertise Fund also enabled prosperity colleagues from the region to join us for the events in Singapore.  They also had a lively discussion with visiting FCO Chief Scientific Adviser Robin Grimes and a group of UK companies based in Singapore.  Judith Slater, DHC Singapore, then led a session to identify synergies on prosperity work in the region.


The Innovation Forum highlighted UK innovation strengths in Singapore and the region.  Together with wider work through the UK Southeast Asia Knowledge Partnership it will help us to secure wider prosperity outcomes: a partnership between McLaren and IO on datacentres in Singapore was announced during the Innovation Forum and there was very good take up of the education packs produced by Bare Conductive in anticipation of their workshop.

We will work closely with colleagues around the region on a programme of follow-up events to maintain momentum and pursue opportunities for research collaboration.  F1 car designer  Mike Gascoyne (currently CEO of Caterham Technology and Chief Technical Officer of the Caterham Group) has agreed to visit Singapore and Malaysia to talk about UK F1 technology and its applications.


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Countries: South East Asia
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