For a small country like Singapore, one with few natural resources but a highly educated population, science and technology are instrumental to its success. Our Advisory Services team has helped the country’s Ministry of National Development and the National Research Foundation (NRF) to develop the masterplan for the Urban Solutions and Sustainability (USS) work stream within the wider Research, Innovation and Enterprise (RIE) 2025 plan.
These plans aim to develop high-technology activities that would move Singapore up the economic value chain and build a strong base of scientists, engineers and technologists who would help to drive future economic and enterprise transformation. The current RIE2025 plan includes four domains:
Manufacturing, trade and connectivity: use research and development to reinforce Singapore’s position as a global business and innovation hub for advanced manufacturing and connectivity.
Human health and potential: focus on improved health and wellbeing outcomes, advance human potential and create economic value for Singapore.
Urban solutions and sustainability: renew and build a liveable, resilient, sustainable and economically vibrant city for tomorrow.
Smart nation and digital economy: develop technology leadership to achieve Singapore’s ‘smart nation’ ambitions, and anchor the country’s position as a trusted digital innovation hub.
Our work involved coordinating research across different national ministries, finding ways to align different priorities, and organising these plans into a unified and structured masterplan. We formulated the USS RIE masterplan in a way that would establish synergies different ministries’ work, to encourage collaboration and efficient resource sharing. We also ensured that the new plan connected to and built on the country’s key policy objectives, from increasing water resilience to meeting decarbonisation targets.
This kind of joined-up approach to research and development planning helps shine a light not only on existing but also emerging challenges. While addressing traditional urban priorities – such as resource management and efficient urban development – Singapore is increasingly turning its attention to mitigating climate change and adapting to its potential risks, such as rising sea levels and urban heat island effects. The new masterplan has brought new visibility to critical cross-governmental goals in these areas.
Planning for a better social experience
Another key element of the masterplan was its human-centric approach. We explored how the plan could improve the lived experience and strengthen inhabitants’ social and emotional connection to the city of Singapore, as both a city and a nation. Our work placed renewed focus on what would make people happier and more innovative, and improve comfort in such a bustling mega-city.
National plan international opportunity
There is much to learn from the Singaporean approach to research, development and innovation. The country’s ability to think long-term and collaborate across government departments is invaluable when tackling highly complex and cross-disciplinary issues like climate change or achieving social outcomes. We believe that strategic work of this kind will be increasingly vital as countries put research and innovation at the core of their policy planning.
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