Collaborations with world's leading universities essential to high-quality research

Editor-at-large Han Fook Kwang erroneously wrote about "Smart's end", and of an "untimely end to" the ambitions of the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (Smart) (S'pore's R&D: Expensive lesson or worthwhile investment?; April 16).

Smart is a distinct entity that was established to manage the strategic ambitions of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Singapore and the region. It represents the long-term commitment of the American university's presence in the country.

The five research programmes are managed under the Smart umbrella. The planned completion of these five programmes is not linked to the continued existence of our partnership with MIT.

Discussions are ongoing for new research programmes that will either build on the knowledge and capabilities developed in earlier programmes, or delve into new areas that we deem to be of both global significance and relevance to Singapore.

Funding for Singapore's research programmes runs for fixed terms and is constantly reviewed to ensure scientific excellence and relevance to the country.

This is the case for all National Research Foundation (NRF) programmes, including those hosted at Create (Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise), which Smart is a part of.

This is important, as science and technology are now advancing more rapidly. As Mr Han pointed out, "working with foreign institutions is not a simple matter of just transplanting foreign scientists and their equipment here".

At Create, research topics are identified and proposals jointly crafted with principal investigators from local universities.

Input is also sought from public agencies, to ensure that these are research topics of strategic interest to Singapore in catalysing economic growth or meeting national challenges.

Our collaborations with MIT and other world-leading universities have generated positive research outcomes that have been translated into practical benefits for Singapore.

The NRF will continue to support international collaborations with research-intensive universities to complement the research and development capabilities in our local research institutes and universities, so as to create economic and societal value for Singapore.

Low Teck Seng (Professor)

Chief Executive Officer
National Research Foundation

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 19, 2017, with the headline 'Collaborations with world's leading universities essential to high-quality research'. Print Edition | Subscribe