Transcript: Welcome Address by Chia Song Hwee at RIE Industry Day 2021

Posted on 10/18/2021


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Chia Song Hwee, Deputy CEO of Temasek International, spoke at the RIE Industry Day 2021 on 15 October. DPM Heng Swee Keat was the Guest-of-Honour at the event and a transcript of his speech has been uploaded here (

DPM and Chairman of NRF, Mr Heng Swee Keat,
Chairman of Temasek Holdings, Mr Lim Boon Heng,
Chairman A*Star, Ms Chan Lai Fang,
Executive Director & CEO of Temasek Holdings, Mr Dilhan Pillay,
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning, and a very warm welcome to the 3rd edition of the RIE Industry Day.

On behalf of Temasek and our co-organisers, A*STAR and NRF, and other partners, thank you for joining us today.

Special thanks to DPM Heng for making time for us, and to our speakers and moderators, who have agreed to share their insights with us.

Well, a lot has changed since our last RIE Industry Day. We have all adapted to the new hybrid world of work and play, connected by technology. This attests to the importance of technology but also the pivotal role that it plays in our lives today.

Not forgetting that, what makes all this possible, is our resilience and our ability to deal with the challenges, looking beyond the horizon and build solutions with innovative ideas.

Let me share three key observations as we start our RIE Industry Day.

First, technology-enabled inflections are disrupting industry faster than ever before.

If anything, COVID-19 has further accelerated this pace of technology and innovation led change.

Why is this? Well, it really is our ability to throw ourselves at big challenges, and innovate solutions to solve them. When solutions are not available, we innovate around the challenges and find alternate pathways.

For instance, BioNTech and others have developed COVID-19 vaccines in record time. Technology has enabled us to develop vaccines that previous took years, if not decades. These companies were able to develop effective vaccines in just under a year.

Putting aside COVID-19 pandemic, climate change is the biggest single largest challenge facing the world today. The chances of bringing about the carbon emissions reduction we need, without massive innovation and new solutions, is practically zero.

Temasek co-funded the Centre for Hydrogen Innovations, together with NUS and A*STAR, to further the R&D of hydrogen in Singapore. In partnership with BlackRock, Temasek established Decarbonization Partners to advance decarbonisation solutions.

Temasek has also made direct investments into deep tech companies working on disruptive innovations in the areas such as energy, transport, food, water, waste, materials and urban development.
For instance in materials, Temasek has invested in startups such as Fortera. These startups aim to solve massive emissions created by cement and steel, those materials which are essential to urbanisation.

Collectively, working on science and technologies, we can make a difference in changing the trajectory of carbon emissions.

This brings me to the second point. Science and R&D works require long gestation periods, which in turn enable deep capabilities, domain expertise and IPs

We have witnessed in our fight against COVID-19, the research ecosystem in Singapore managed to develop solutions such as COVID-19 test kits, as well as diagnostic capabilities, in collaboration with companies such as MiRXES, Advanced MedTech and Genscript.

The ability of these platforms to adapt existing knowhows and technologies in response to COVID-19 was not a matter of luck. It was a result of years of R&D work, solid domain expertise and infrastructure that allows the quick scaling of these solutions.

Over the years, our RIs have spun off a number of ventures and some of them had received VCs funding. For example Proteona and Nuevocor, I believe some of them may make it to the world stage someday. It may take a while, but I believe some of them will get there.

So, Singapore does have strong science, R&D capabilities, and talents embedded in our ecosystem. These are built over decades with billions invested. Without these, the examples I have given earlier could not have happened.

This brings me to the third point. The need for collaboration focusing on high potential areas

As we all know, it is getting harder and harder for corporates to invest in R&D because of the need to generate profits in the short term. The answer to this problem is — collaboration.

To fully harness the potential of our R&D ecosystem, we must collaborate and also find alignment in areas with compelling use cases that are critical to our future.

To this end, the RIE2025 Plan sets the course to capture future growth opportunities, deepen our innovation capabilities, build partnerships and stay relevant in the global economy.

We can see the stronger alignment of the focus and high potential areas, in line with the direction of Temasek portfolio companies and ourselves.

I am, therefore, optimistic that our portfolio companies, such as Singtel, ST Engineering, Sembcorp, Keppel and so on, will continue to strengthen existing collaborations with our RIs and uncover new opportunities.
From Temasek’s perspective, the convergence of our investment focus and the RIE2025 strategic domains is very encouraging. Let me give some examples of such collaboration.

In Human Health and Potential, our investee company WuXi Biologics is in the midst of setting up a branch of its biologics CDMO in Singapore to support development of treatments.

In Urban Solutions and Sustainability, Temasek’s investment in Verily catalysed the set-up of a Singapore-based HQ and a partnership with the National Environment Agency, with the intent of tackling dengue as a start.

In Smart Nation and Digital Economy, Temasek partnered with MAS on Project Ubin, which led to establishment of Partior, a global multi-currency digital payments network.
Lastly, Ensign is working with the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) to grow the cybersecurity talent pool in Singapore by grooming and upskilling our cyber professionals.


Before I end, I just want to emphasise the objective of RIE Industry Day: bringing together leaders of the industry and research experts. Through this session, we aim to build greater awareness of the ecosystem and the global best-in-class capabilities it can bring.

Fostering closer collaboration is critical to make all these happen. It actually all comes down to all of us here in this room today. So thank you everyone, for your efforts to build that collaborative ecosystem.

With that, I wish all of us to have a fruitful and meaningful conference ahead.

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