Dr Pauline Tay, Deputy Director (Innovation and Enterprise / Strategy)
1. Tell us about your role in NRF.
I manage the Innovation and Enterprise (I&E) division at NRF, designing policies and schemes to catalyse innovation and facilitate the translation of research into impactful outcomes – to improve the world around us. Initiatives range from support of early innovation coming out of universities, formation and growth of hi-tech startups and the facilitation of research collaboration and technology development by industry.
2. What is your most exciting experience in NRF?
Every day at NRF is exciting, but one experience tops it all – creating and implementing the Singapore Week of Innovation and TeCHnology (SWITCH). I was tasked to energise the innovation and tech event space in Singapore, and NRF gave me the opportunity to transform how things were done in the past – singular events ran by different organisations throughout the year that were often duplicative. Tech conferences in Singapore were predictable, dull and hardly integrated with lifestyle. I was determined to change that image and created a completely new concept for the tech scene in Singapore. Just like Arts or Drama Festival, SWITCH is a concept where multiple complementary tech events could come together to plug and play in an open platform integrated with lifestyle elements, reflecting the diversity and vibrancy of our ecosystem. It is driven by a community of people, not just individual organisations, many of whom are volunteers in the innovation and entrepreneurial space, coming together to make it all work for the ecosystem they believe in. This was truly an exciting experience for me, made possible because I am part of NRF.
3. Share with us one thing you enjoy while working in NRF.
The one thing that makes NRF such a great place to work in is the opportunity to experiment! Oftentimes, you don’t know if an idea works until you try – just like in science and entrepreneurship, one must not be afraid to try, fail and learn. NRF encourages us to take bold leaps and experiment with ideas, to challenge norms and develop new initiatives to improve the ecosystem.
4. How does your time in NRF aid in your career goals?
I’ve always wanted to work within science and technology, as a consultant and advisor at the interface of research and commercialisation. The job scope at NRF is definitely congruent with my career goals and provides me with the opportunities and experience I need to realise my goals.
5. If you were to share one piece of advice that you learned in NRF, what would it be?
Flexible dynamism! That describes most of us at NRF. Just like how technologies develop over time with our understanding of science, we must constantly embrace change in our work and lives. Today’s way of working may not be tomorrow’s (for example, hardly anyone needs a typist nowadays) and if we’re not willing to adapt and learn, we will become obsolete. So be flexible, dynamic and change with the times.