A special chemistry of talent and ideas at one-north

Fusionopolis Two, one-north's newest R&D complex, opened in October last year and houses four A*Star research institutes and a number of private companies and laboratories.
Fusionopolis Two, one-north's newest R&D complex, opened in October last year and houses four A*Star research institutes and a number of private companies and laboratories.PHOTO: JTC

Inaugural festival to celebrate the enclave's successes will give a peek at its facilities and vibrant community

For local neurotechnology and game company Neeuro, setting up shop at the JTC Launchpad@one-north was an "easy decision".

It was the first tenant at the Launchpad when it opened in January last year at one-north, a research and development (R&D) hub in Buona Vista.

Now, the start-up cluster houses more than 700 start-up companies.

Mr Kelly Choo, Neeuro's chief marketing officer, described the Launchpad as a "vibrant community of start-up people".

"We get to know each other because of the activities that JTC organises, such as workouts," he said. "I think that forged a bond and introduced us to the people around us."

Neeuro's location allowed it to work closely with the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) to develop a headband which allows consumers to play games on a tablet with their brainwaves.

KNOWLEDGE HUB

It is a convenient place to get together. Our research scientists and colleagues get to talk to A*Star researchers; it's easy to engage everyone.

MR HIA YEOW HWEE, Croda's regional director for quality and product safety regulatory affairs in the Asia-Pacific.

A*Star chairman Lim Chuan Poh said the co-location of the various research and development entities within one-north encourages "excellent science and innovative technology".

He said: "With its state-of-the-art facilities and vibrant community, one-north attracts a diverse pool of local and international talent that embodies the spirit of research, innovation, creativity and enterprise.

"This knowledge hub is the engine that will help transform Singapore's future economy."

By all accounts, one-north has become a thriving 200ha city-within- a-city for R&D. Since it was conceptualised in 2000, it has attracted 400 leading companies and global institutions, in addition to five institutes of higher learning and corporate universities, 16 world-class public research institutes, and 48 incubators with over 700 start-ups. The total talent pool in one-north adds up to about 43,000 individuals.

The R&D hub has made a name for itself in key growth sectors - namely the biomedical sciences, infocommunications technology, and media, said Mr Aaron Tham, JTC's director of new estates division.

And its success can be attributed to the 400 companies and global institutions that it hosts.

British manufacturer of speciality chemical ingredients Croda International moved part of its R&D works to one-north from Jurong Island in January 2014, to better engage consumers.

Mr Hia Yeow Hwee, Croda's regional director for quality and product safety regulatory affairs in the Asia-Pacific, said the scientific community in one-north makes for easy interaction among researchers.

"It is a convenient place to get together," he said. "Our research scientists and colleagues get to talk to A*Star researchers; it's easy to engage everyone."

Fusionopolis Two, one-north's newest R&D complex, opened in October last year and houses four A*Star research institutes and a number of private companies and laboratories.

For the first time, an event is being held next month to celebrate one-north's successes.

Neeuro's headband and other innovations will be showcased to the public for free at the one-north Festival on Aug 5 and 6.

Organised by A*Star and JTC, the inaugural festival will involve 35 participating groups. It will focus on the culture of research, innovation, creativity and enterprise within the one-north precinct. Behind-the-scenes tours, workshops and exhibitions will be conducted by leading scientists, researchers and entrepreneurs.

Visitors will get to strike up a conversation with a robot, play a video game using only their minds, and hear experts discuss topics ranging from allergies and cancer to artificial intelligence.

"Not many people actually know about this place - this enclave of technology and talented people," said Mr Choo.

"It will be good for the public to visit one-north and to discover what this hub is all about."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 22, 2016, with the headline 'A special chemistry of talent and ideas at one-north'. Print Edition | Subscribe