Science and Industry Minister Ed Husic is working with his Singaporean counterpart on an initiative to facilitate greater collaboration between startups across the two countries, as he highlighted the success of the city-state’s government-owned investment company.
Mr Husic’s comments followed a brief dialogue with the Singaporean Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong ahead of the signing of an agreement between the National University of Singapore and Australia’s Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation.
Concurrently, Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs Tim Watts is representing the Australian Government at Singapore International Cyber Week, alongside Australia’s Ambassador for Cyber Affairs and Critical Technology Dr Tobias Feakin.
Mr Husic told InnovationAus.com that the federal government should “think deeply about what we can do on global science diplomacy” with a particular focus on Australia’s regional neighbours.
“I want us to think about working on common problems together [with] smart minds in various countries. We had really good discussions with the Singaporeans today, and with my counterpart, focused on how we can get young Singaporeans and Australians working together, particularly in early-stage innovation,” Mr Husic said.
“We committed to doing some more work on seeing what we can do to encourage some startup collaboration. It was really positive and I’m looking forward to visiting Singapore in the new year. They’ve invited me to go over. I’ve had long and productive working relationships with Singaporeans over time, and I look forward to doing more with them.”
Singapore currently has the highest level of venture capital investment per capita in the world. In addition, the city state’s total investment expenditure on startups totalled $14.7 billion last year. This is $4.6 billion more than the $10.1 billion invested in Australian startups over the same period, despite having a gross domestic product around four times larger.
When asked about what Australia could learn from Singapore to improve its own investment landscape, Mr Husic pointed to the city state’s government-owned investment company.
“[Singapore has] got a very strong investment approach spearheaded by Temasek, who do a lot of investments globally. The Singaporeans recognise that being able to harness capital [and convert it] to good ideas will be important for them and their prosperity longer term,” Mr Husic said.
“I’ve mentioned to the Singaporeans our intent to set up a massive co-investment fund of our own in the National Reconstruction Fund, and where we collaborate together, we will be really good to do so.”
The 7th Singapore-Australia Annual Leaders’ Meeting on Tuesday will mark the first official in-person meeting between Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
The pair are expected to finalise and sign a Green Economy Deal, which Foreign Minister Penny Wong described in July as a “world-first government-to-government agreement that will drive trade [as well as] economic and environmental cooperation as we decarbonise our economies”.
Aside from GreenTech, Mr Husic said that the leaders dialogue would further collaboration on food production and improving supply chain efficiency.
In a statement, Mr Watts said he is seeking to “deepen Australia’s engagement on cyber resilience with Singapore and with private industry, academia and members of the international community”.
“Competition for cyber and technology dominance is playing out most acutely in the Indo-Pacific region, which is increasingly vulnerable to technology-enabled coercion. I look forward to discussing the global importance of cyber and critical technologies and exploring how they can be embedded into Australia’s foreign and trade policy,” Mr Watts said.
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