SPEECH BY PRESIDENT TONY TAN KENG YAM AT THE CLOSING CEREMONY OF THE GLOBAL YOUNG SCIENTISTS SUMMIT (GYSS)@ONE-NORTH 2016 ON 22 JANUARY 2016

Eminent Speakers

Young Scientists

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen


Good afternoon. It is always a pleasure for me to officiate this event since the inaugural Global Young Scientists Summit@one-north (GYSS) was launched in 2013.

Singapore is pleased to host this forum to promote dialogue among young researchers and established distinguished scientists from various disciplines. We are excited by the prospects that the next generation of scientific talents gathered here today will contribute to the discoveries and breakthroughs needed to tackle the challenges facing our world.

Singapore has benefitted from the application of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) to solve many of our problems. Over the last few days, apart from lectures, you have visited Changi Airport, Gardens by the Bay, Marina Barrage, and Deep Tunnel Sewage System and saw how these projects, which were made possible by developments in STEM, have improved our living environments and benefitted our economy.

The Singapore Challenge is incorporated as part of the GYSS to nurture future science and technology leaders, and to promote science and technology development to cater to the needs of society. The theme-based Singapore Challenge provides a platform for young researchers to collaborate with local partners to translate concepts to practical applications. The theme for this year’s Singapore Challenge “Sustainable and Liveable Cities”, is a constant challenge for Singapore and other urbanised cities in balancing competing needs for limited land and resources. More innovative ideas are needed to help safeguard and conserve resources and enhance the quality of life for current and future generations. I congratulate Mr Carlos Duarte-Guevara for winning the award this year. I encourage all of you to continue developing your ideas and welcome you to follow up with our ministries and to use Singapore as a living lab to test bed and trial your ideas.

Many of the challenges facing Singapore now such as an ageing population, intensification of urbanisation and cyber security, also affect many countries and cities around the world. Infectious diseases, water and food security, and climate change are complex trans-boundary issues that require the cooperation of different stakeholders across nations. Out-of-the-box solutions developed through the interdisciplinary application of science, technology, engineering and mathematics are required to tackle these global challenges and problems.

The development of science and technology also offers many exciting opportunities to transform and improve our lives. For example, the high costs incurred in recovering the orbital rockets used to launch satellites could be drastically reduced with the development of technology to land orbital rockets with precision, enabling the recycling of such rockets. This has profound implications for the development of a space travel industry. In other areas, developments in genetics open up the possibilities for new cures to many diseases. Advances in clean energy also give new momentum to the global shift towards lower carbon footprints.

As a small island state with little natural resources, Singapore’s achievements were built on the enterprise and innovation of our people. Earlier this month, Singapore announced a plan to invest $19 billion in Research, Innovation and Enterprise (RIE) over the next five years. The plan aims to translate research into solutions that address national challenges, build up innovation and technology adoption in companies and drive economic growth through value creation.

The plan also builds on the investments Singapore has put into developing our people in various areas, including nurturing our research talents. We have developed multiple paths of success in our school system for young people across different fields, including in Science and Mathematics. But the development of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) talents goes beyond the academic development of our young people. We also need to develop in our youths the curiosity to discover, the desire to experiment, and the respect for people who set out to develop new knowledge.

I was therefore very pleased to note an increasing interest in scientific inquiry among our young people. Last year, I launched the National Science Experiment (NSE), which aimed to encourage students to explore the impact of science and technology on their daily lives. The National Science Experiment attracted participation from over 43,000 students from 128 schools. Each student used a device to track the number of steps taken each day, how much time they spend outdoors and their travel pattern. The data collected using the device was thereafter channelled to help government agencies in urban planning including transportation systems and greenery of buildings. Through this project, students also gained better understanding of Big Data concepts and translate classroom learning to solve real-life problems. 

The GYSS is into its fourth year and we are glad that it continues to remain relevant to the global science and technology community. This engagement, which takes place, across generations, disciplines and cultures, will inspire and seed insights that will contribute to the development of the next generation of scientific talents as well as breakthroughs and discoveries. As computer scientist Alan Kay puts it, ‘The best way to predict the future is to invent it’. As we wrap up GYSS 2016, I hope that you will continue to maintain the friendships and networks built, and further the dialogue even after GYSS 2016.

To our distinguished speakers and the institutions you represent, I extend our heartfelt appreciation for your active contributions to GYSS. Your presence and participation have been vital to help bring science and technology to a global audience. I hope to welcome you back to Singapore next year.

I now declare the 4th Global Young Scientists Summit@one-north 2016, closed.

Thank you very much.