NRF Milestones

2006

3 Jan The National Research Foundation (NRF) was established as a department in the Prime Minister's Office, Singapore. The NRF sets the national direction for R&D by developing policies, plans and strategies for research, innovation and enterprise.  
25 Apr The Scientific Advisory Board was set up to advise the NRF on its strategic R&D efforts.
7 Jul The inaugural Research Innovation and Enterprise Council (RIEC) approved three Strategic Research Programmes to be implemented over the next five years (2006 – 2010) to create new industries and enable high growth. These were the Biomedical Sciences (BMS) Phase II; Environmental and Water Technologies (EWT); and Interactive and Digital Media (ICT).  

To build up a concentration of research talent to foster innovation and creativity, the RIEC also approved the concept to establish a Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise (CREATE), and the proposal to set up the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) Centre as the first centre within the Campus. 


2007

16 Mar The second RIEC meeting approved the Competitive Research Programme funding scheme to encourage a broader range of high-impact research ideas. 

Three initiatives were approved to enhance intellectual and human capital for R&D: 

• NRF Research Fellowship scheme to attract and develop young R&D talent; 

• A research programme on infectious diseases in the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) Centre; and the

• Research Centres of Excellence (RCEs) in our local universities, with the first in Quantum Information Science and Technology (later renamed Centre for Quantum Technologies) to be set up at the National University of Singapore (NUS).


2008

31 Jan NRF announced the inaugural group of NRF Research Fellows. Each would receive up to US$1.5 million as an inaugural NRF Research Fellow.
28 Mar The RIEC approved the National Framework for Innovation and Enterprise (NFIE) to grow innovation and enterprise in the institutes of higher learning through academic entrepreneurship. A five-year (2008-2012) budget of S$350 million was approved to support initiatives set out under the NFIE.

The RIEC endorsed the establishment of two new RCEs to strengthen research capabilities – the Cancer Research Centre of Excellence, hosted at NUS, and the Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS), hosted at NTU. A total of S$256 million was committed to the Cancer RCE over seven years, with S$172 million from NRF and the Ministry of Education (MOE). For the EOS, S$287 million was committed over a 10-year period, with S$150 million from NRF and MOE. 

The RIEC endorsed the development plan for the Campus for Research Excellence And Technological Enterprise (CREATE) to house research centres of top universities from around the world. A sum of S$360 million was set aside for the design and construction of CREATE, which would pioneer the use of energy efficient technologies for buildings in the tropics. 
31 Jul NRF announced that it would seed six venture funds under the Early Stage Venture Funding scheme (ESVF). NRF would invest S$10 million in each of the selected VCs, who are required to raise a matching sum of at least S$10 million from third-party investors to invest in locally-based start-ups.
15 Sep NRF made available S$75 million to support proof-of-concept (POC) grants. This POC scheme made available funds for researchers linked to institutes of higher learning, public research institutes and small and medium enterprises to develop ideas for commercialisation. Under the scheme, up to S$250,000 would be given for each project.


2009

20 Feb NRF and MOE committed S$150 million over 10 years to support the Mechanobiology Research Centre of Excellence, which would study cell and tissue functions at the most basic level. This would influence the development of specific drugs and highly accurate treatment of diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and other ailments due to ageing. Based in NUS, the centre’s competitive advantage lay in its unique approach in characterising biomechanics at the molecule-to-cell-to-tissue levels through integrated inter-disciplinary teams. 
11 May NRF announced a new S$25 million Translational Research and Development (TRD) grant. It provided polytechnics with resources to build on the research results from universities and research institutes, to turn these into commercialisable products and applications. The grant aimed to support at least 10 projects, with up to S$500,000 per project.
19 May NRF announced that it would provide S$22 million from the University Innovation Fund to support academic entrepreneurship efforts in three local universities - Nanyang Technological University, National University of Singapore and Singapore Management University. The grants would support activities in the universities relating to innovation and enterprise and included entrepreneurship education programmes, platforms to encourage start-up formation, guidance to aspiring entrepreneurs and activities that promote entrepreneurship.
28 Jul NRF announced the reappointment of Dr Tony Tan as Chairman of the NRF Board, and appointment of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Teo Chee Hean as the Deputy Chairman of the NRF Board.
25 Aug NRF issued a call for proposals under its Technology Incubation Scheme (TIS) to invite local and foreign technology incubator investors to set up in Singapore. The scheme would provide up to 85 per cent co-funding in each start-up company in the incubator, up to a maximum of S$500,000. The incubator would be required to invest the remaining amount of at least 15 per cent.
28 Oct NRF announced the set up of the Singapore-ETH Centre (SEC) for Global Environmental Sustainability with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) at Zurich. SEC was the third centre under NRF’s CREATE programme, and included the Future Cities Laboratory (FCL) programme. The FCL programme aimed to research and develop solutions and guidelines directed towards the sustainable development of buildings, districts and regions.


2010

10 Feb NRF and MOE announced funding support of S$120 million over ten years for an RCE called the Singapore Centre on Environmental Life Sciences Engineering (SCELSE). The centre would be set up at the Nanyang Technological University. The centre aimed to conduct research on microbial biofilm communities with the purpose of harnessing their powers for water and environmental sustainability.
11 Jun NRF announced that the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HUJ) would establish research centres in Singapore under the CREATE programme. TUM-CREATE would carry out research relating to electro-mobility in megacities, while the HUJ programme would seek novel therapeutics for common inflammatory diseases in Asia and the region.
17 Sep Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Chairman of the RIEC, announced that the Singapore government planned to spend S$16.1 billion over 2011-2015 on research, innovation and enterprise. The RIEC also endorsed S$1 billion for the National Innovation Challenge (NIC) to develop innovative solutions to national challenges in areas such as energy resilience, environmental sustainability and urban systems.
20 Oct NRF announced that UC Berkeley, Ben-Gurion University and HUJ would set up two more research centres under the CREATE programme. The Berkeley Education Alliance for Research in Singapore (BEARS) would have an interdisciplinary research programme on building efficiency and sustainability in the tropics. The BGU-HUJ-NTU programme would develop new nano nanomaterials to increase the efficiencies of existing energy and water management technologies.


2011

13 Jun  NRF announced that Peking University would set up a research centre under the CREATE programme. The Singapore-Peking University Research Centre for a Sustainable Low-Carbon Future (SPURc) focused on carbon dioxide capture and conversion using sunlight as well as photochemical and photosynthetic processes. SPURc was the first interdisciplinary research group set up by a Chinese university in CREATE. 
12 Jul  The inter-agency Energy Innovation Programme Office (EIPO) announced the allocation of an additional S$195 million from NRF to promote R&D in the energy sector in the five-year period to 2015. The funding would enable EIPO to build on the existing strengths in solar energy, and diversity into new growth areas such as smart grids, green buildings, and carbon capture and utilisation.
4 Aug NRF and National Climate Change Secretariat (NCCS) held a symposium on “Energy Resilience for Sustainable Growth. Six primers to assess the potential of various climate change related technologies and their relevance to Singapore were released. These were in the areas of air-conditioning system efficiency, bio-renewables, carbon capture and storage/utilisation, energy storage, smart grid, and solar energy.
31 Aug NRF announced that Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean would succeed Dr Tony Tan as the Chairman of NRF. 
16 Sep NRF announced that Ms Yong Ying-I had replaced Mr Teo Ming Kian as the Permanent Secretary of National Research and Development. 
6 Dec NRF approved the proposal for Shanghai Jiao Tong University to set up a research centre as part of the CREATE programme, named Energy and Environmental Sustainability Solutions for Megacities (E2S2). E2S2 would aim to improve energy recovery from waste, as well as develop system modelling and data management tools to track and mitigate emerging environmental contaminants. 


2012

21 Mar  NRF approved the proposal for the University of Cambridge to set up a collaborative research centre as part of the CREATE programme. The programme, titled Cambridge Centre for Carbon Reduction in Chemical Technology (C4T), would focus on minimising the carbon footprint of industrial-scale chemical processes.  
13 Jul Professor Low Teck Seng was appointed as the Chief Executive Officer of NRF.


2013

20-25 Jan  The inaugural Global Young Scientists Summit@one-north (GYSS@one-north) was conducted over 5 days, with the theme “Advancing Science, Creating Technologies for a Better World”. The event saw international science and technology leaders discussing latest advances in science, future game changers, and solutions to global challenges. Three hundred bright young researchers came from all over the world to be inspired and mentored by these eminent scientists. 

A*STAR scientist Lynette Cheah clinched the inaugural Singapore Challenge prize with her research proposal to build a dynamic transportation network to shift commuters’ travel modes in response to real-time feedback and system disruptions.  
12 Mar  CREATE was awarded the top honour of the 2013 Laboratory of the Year by the US-based R&D magazine. CREATE was recognised for its excellence in research laboratory design, planning, and construction.  
23 Jul NRF announced the Corp Lab @ University programme to support the establishment of key laboratories by industries in our universities. The Rolls-Royce@NTU Corporate Lab was the first laboratory to be supported under this scheme. The new laboratory focused on three areas of experimental research: electrical power and control systems, manufacturing and repair technologies, and computation engineering. 
25-26 Sep  Techventure 2013 was jointly organised by NRF, Exploit Technologies Pte Ltd and SPRING Singapore. 
25 Oct  The RIEC announced the establishment of three new programmes: the Innovation Cluster Programme to grow new industry clusters and create higher value jobs for Singapore, the National Cybersecurity R&D Programme to improve the trustworthiness of cyber infrastructures to address a growing national challenge, and the Returning Singaporean Scientists Scheme to grow the local pool of scientists and researchers. 
14 Nov NRF and the Ministry of National Development announced the inaugural call for proposals for the Land and Liveability National Innovation Challenge (L2 NIC). The L2 NIC is a long-term initiative which seeks innovation solutions for creating new space in a cost-effective manner, and optimise the use of land to sustain Singapore’s long-term growth and resilience. This call for proposals offered up to S$10 million of funding per project. 
25 Nov  Keppel Corporation and the National University of Singapore announced the setting up of the Keppel-NUS Corporate Laboratory, under NRF’s Corp Lab @ University programme. The laboratory was established with an investment amount of S$75 million, and would pursue three main research thrusts centred on Future Systems, Future Yards and Future Resources to meet the future challenges of the offshore industry.  


2014

10 Feb  The third corporate laboratory under the NRF’s Corp Lab@University scheme was announced as a partnership between the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School and ImaginAb Inc. Called the Imaging Biomarker Development Lab, it aims to develop new in vivo molecular imaging agents to study cancer biology and immune function.  
22 Apr  The second batch of venture capital funds under the Early Stage Venture Fund scheme was selected. NRF invested in six venture funds – Jungle Ventures, Golden Gate Ventures, SBI Ven Capital, Walden International, New Asia Investments and Monk’s Hill Ventures.  
23 Apr  The Nuclear Safety Research and Education Programme was announced. It comprises the Singapore Nuclear Research and Safety Initiative focusing on research and developing capabilities in nuclear safety, science and engineering and the Nuclear Education and Training Fund to support education and training in these areas.  
30 May  NRF signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR) to fund France-Singapore collaborative research projects in materials, nano technologies and nano systems.  
15 Jul Officials from NRF and the International Human Frontier Science Program Organization signed an MOU for Singapore to become a member country of the Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP). This allows Singapore’s researchers to compete for funding support under HFSP funding programmes. Support includes applying for research grants, postdoctoral fellowships and career development awards.  
30 Jul The National Climate Change Secretariat and the NRF unveiled five national energy technology roadmaps to guide government agencies in formulating technology master plans and funding initiatives to secure Singapore’s energy future and address climate change challenges. The roadmaps are in the areas of solar photovoltaic, carbon capture and storage/utilisation, green data centre, building energy efficiency and industry energy efficiency.  
15 Oct  NRF awarded seven research projects under the inaugural National Cybersecurity R&D Grant call. These are in the areas of mobile security, cyber physical systems security, hardware and software security, digital forensics, and securing data in the cloud.  
16 Oct The fourth corporate laboratory under the NRF’s Corp Lab@Univerity scheme, the Urban Computing and Engineering Centre of Excellence, was announced. Fujitsu Limited, the Agency for Science, Technology and Research and the Singapore Management University signed a five-year partnership to focus on dynamic mobility management as well as maritime and port optimisation. 
25 Oct
NRF and the UK Department of Business, Innovation and Skills jointly announced the UK-Singapore Innovation & Research Partnership to foster collaboration between the science and innovation communities of both countries. 
28 Oct
NRF announced six programmes were awarded under the inaugural Biological Design Tools and Applications Funding scheme. These are in the areas of high value-added chemicals, biologics and biomimetic systems. The scheme aims to developing Singapore into a biological-design hub for the design and engineering of biological systems. 
3 Nov  Seven established researchers received the inaugural NRF Investigatorship to pursue ground-breaking and high-risk research. Two research centres were set up under the Medium-Sized Centre funding scheme to consolidate research activities across universities. The two centres are the Centre for Advanced 2D Materials hosted by NUS and the Singapore Centre for 3D Printing hosted by NTU. 


2015

23 Jan  NRF announced the National Science Experiment, “Step Out for Science” as  part of efforts to engage Singaporeans in science and technology. 
21 Apr  NRF announced a new fund of $5 million to support t industry collaborations with Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) in developing new applications through spintronics research. 
12 Jun

NRF and Dassault Systems announced a cooperation to develop the Virtual Singapore platform, a realistic and integrated three-dimensional (3D) model with semantics and attributes in the virtual space. It will allow users to create rich visual models and realistic large-scale simulations of Singapore to digitally explore the impact of urbanisation on the city-state and develop solutions that optimise logistics, governance and operations related to environmental and disaster management, infrastructure, homeland security or community services.

8 Jul  The inaugural CREATE Symposium 2015: Future Mobility brought together the expertise of local and international universities to develop thought leadership on issues of societal importance, and solutions applicable to megacities around Singapore. 
16 Dec NRF and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council announced the results of a joint £2.4 million ($5.1 million) research call, which will fund the projects over the next three years. The six new joint research projects will see UK and Singapore-based researchers collaborating to develop new solutions that will enhance the resilience of systems and infrastructure to cyber attacks.


2016

8 Jan The Singapore Government committed S$19 billion to research, innovation and enterprise over five years from 2016 – 2020 to support and translate research, and to leverage science and technology to address national challenges, and build up the innovation and technology-adaptation capacity of companies to drive economic growth through value creation.
17 Mar Professor Low Teck Seng, Chief Executive Officer of NRF, was conferred the Order of the Legion of Honour with the grade of Knight (Chevalier) by the French Government for his outstanding vision and extraordinary efforts to drive and advance science and technology cooperation between France and Singapore.
3 May A FinTech Office was set up to serve as a one-stop virtual entity for all FinTech matters and to promote Singapore as a FinTech hub, led by Mr Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief FinTech Officer, Monetary Authority of SIngapore, and Mr Steve Leonard, Chief Executive Officer, SG-Innovate, with representatives from The Economic Development Board, Infocomm Investments Pte Ltd, Info-communications Media Development Authority, NRF and SPRING Singapore
16 May The Ministry of National Development (MND) and NRF awarded 5 research projects a total of S$14 million in funding under the Land and Liveability National Innovation Challenge (L2 NIC) Second Call for Proposals.
10-13 Jul NRF hosted the 16th Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) Awardees Meeting. It was the first time that Singapore hosted the international annual meeting that brings HFSP awardees together to build a global network of like-minded scientists working on life sciences subjects and to stimulate new collaborations.
19-21 Sep The inaugural Singapore Week of Innovation & TeCHnology (SWITCH) was officially launched by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean. It was the first platform in Singapore to  aggregate an array of public and private sector players in the innovation and enterprise ecosystem, to come together to build a concept week that showcases Singapore’s vibrant entrepreneurial and technology innovation ecosystem.
28 Nov

NRF awarded seven projects under the national Marine Science Research and Development Programme in areas including the resilience of coral reefs, ecological engineering of sea walls, and developing tropical model marine organisms for experimental marine science. The programme, which is managed by NUS, aims to strengthen Singapore’s long-term marine science research capabilities. 



2017

5 Jan NRF and Israel’s Tel Aviv University awarded four cybersecurity research projects under the NRF-TAU collaboration programme in areas including improving cybersecurity through human behaviour modelling, and deterring cybersecurity threats through Internet topology. 
3 May AI.SG, a new national programme to catalyse, synergise and boost Singapore’s artificial intelligence capabilities was launched.
3 May NRF launched a new data science consortium to boost partnership between industry and researchers in big data analytics.
13-16 Jun The Commonwealth scientific community gathered in Singapore for the Commonwealth Science Conference, which was jointly organised by NRF and UK’s Royal Society.
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