INTERNATIONAL exchanges to boost higher education, research and high-tech business enterprises stand to benefit from a new Swiss House opened yesterday by the Swiss Government at Singapore's biomedical hub, Biopolis.
This Swiss House for education, research and innovation is Switzerland's third “scientific embassy” overseas and aims to be a one-stop physical and virtual information, co-ordination and networking platform.
Its main task will be to support “international activities of the Swiss higher education and research institutions as well as high-tech SMEs (small- and medium-sized enterprises) in Singapore,” said Swiss Federal Councillor Pascal Couchepin, who is also Home Affairs (Education, Research, Health and Culture) Minister.
“Furthermore, the Swiss House will act as a bridge for the Singaporean partners towards the Swiss education, research and innovation landscapes,” he added.
Its opening comes a day after Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis opened the Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases, also at Biopolis.
Acting Education Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam described this special office as the “critical third link” along with the Swiss House for Advanced Research in Boston, and “Swissnex” in San Francisco.
“It says something about both Switzerland and Singapore that this latest Swiss House is being located here, at the crossroads of East and West,” he said.
He said the Swiss experience was “instructive” in Singapore's university sector review because they epitomise the balance small countries must maintain “between developing national strategies, allowing autonomy within each university and promoting competition between universities and research centres to drive quality.”
This non-profit Swiss government initiative is expected to evolve into a public-private partnership.
The initiative aims to encourage more Swiss institutions to collaborate with local institutes and Swiss high-tech SMEs to explore local markets, and “convince more brilliant Singaporeans to select Switzerland for their studies, research and entrepreneurial activities,” said Couchepin. – The Straits Times/ Asia News Network
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