Two New National-level Consortia Launched in Synthetic biology and Cybersecurity

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Guest-of-Honour, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, Coordinating Minister for National Security and Chairman of the National Research Foundation Singapore. Credit: NRF, SWITCH
Guest-of-Honour, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean(middle), Coordinating Minister for National Security and Chairman of the National Research Foundation Singapore. Credit: National Research Foundation, Singapore.

Two new consortia have been launched to promote research, commercialisation and training in cybersecurity and synthetic biology. The Singapore Cybersecurity Consortium (SGCSC) and the Singapore Consortium for Synthetic Biology (SINERGY) will be hosted at the National University of Singapore (NUS) and supported by the National Research Foundation (NRF) Singapore.

Mr Teo Chee Hean, Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security, and Chairman of NRF Singapore, announced the launch of these two consortia on Tuesday, at the opening of the inaugural Singapore Week of Innovation & TeCHnology (SWITCH) 2016.

The two new consortia will encourage use-inspired research, technology translation, manpower training, and technology awareness in cybersecurity and synthetic biology by actively promoting research discussions across industry, government agencies and researchers.

It will spur the creation of value for Singapore’s economy and society from knowledge generated by the S$42 million investment in NRF’s National Cybersecurity R&D Programme and the S$34 million investment in synthetic biology-related R&D funded under the Biological Design Tools and Applications grant call and NRF’s Competitive Research Programme.

Singapore Consortium for Synthetic Biology (SINERGY)

What is Synthetic Biology?

An emerging area of research, synthetic biology is an interdisciplinary branch of biology and engineering that involves the design and construction of novel artificial biological pathways, organisms or devices, or the redesign of existing natural biological systems. Recent research has demonstrated promising application of synthetic biology in areas such as energy, healthcare and the environment.

The Singapore Consortium for Synthetic Biology (SINERGY) will be led by Associate Professor Matthew Chang, Director for the Synthetic Biology for Clinical and Technological Innovation (SynCTI) programme at NUS. Set up with funding support from NUS and NRF, the new consortium will tap on the facilities and expertise at SynCTI.

Associate Professor Chang explained, “SINERGY aims to consolidate Singapore’s capabilities in synthetic biology and harness synergies across industry sectors to create a vibrant and globally-connected bio-based economy in Singapore. We envisage that the efforts by SINERGY to encourage frequent interactions and co-development between industry, the universities and research institutes, will contribute towards augmenting manpower development and deployment for the new bio-economy, as well as catalysing the translation of expertise in synthetic biology for industry applications.”

To date, more than 10 industry partners have committed to join the consortium as founding members. The new consortium will be engaging its members through various activities such as annual meeting for biofoundry users, short certification courses, and strategic workshops to promote collaboration between researchers and industry, as well as networking events with international synthetic biology consortia.

“NRF has been supporting the setting up of collaborative R&D consortia, built around scientific breakthroughs and new knowledge discovered from research programmes funded by NRF. These consortia will foster closer interaction between industry and research institutions and provide companies access to top researchers and emerging technologies. We are confident that the consortia will result in more innovation and commercialisation in the cybersecurity and synthetic biology sectors when companies adopt the new technologies developed by the research institutions,” said Mr George Loh, Director (Programmes), NRF Singapore.