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Singapore has positioned itself as a center of research and innovation at the heart of the world’s most dynamic economic region. As the global technology landscape becomes increasingly competitive, Singapore must constantly adopt innovative technologies to support and boost its economic competitiveness. It requires a practical approach to create a culture of innovation, as well as a somewhat informal approach to allow intellectual germination, especially through entrepreneurship and research.

To date, government agencies and public universities have been proactive in helping the country develop scientific and technological innovations. The National University of Singapore (NUS) recently established the Institute of Functional Intelligent Materials (I-FIM), the world‘s first institute dedicated to the design, synthesis and application of Functional Intelligent Materials (FIM) . I-FIM will be Singapore’s sixth Research Center of Excellence (RCE) and the fourth hosted by the National University of Singapore (NUS).

We look forward to the I-FIM playing an important role in our research landscape and becoming a world-renowned institute that will attract, retain and support world-class academic researchers, enhance graduate studies in NUS, and create new knowledge. important in materials science.

– Singapore Minister of Education

The Research Innovation and Enterprise Council formed the Research Center of Excellence program in 2007 to attract talented researchers, improve higher education at universities in Singapore, and train quality research staff.

The top five research centers of excellence have boosted Singapore’s research ecosystem, and their exceptional research has helped Singapore tackle complex challenges such as Covid-19. When fully operational, I-FIM will have more than 100 researchers and doctoral students working in its facilities on the NUS Kent Ridge campus. Over the next ten years, the center will offer 50 doctoral fellowships and over 100 post-doctoral fellowships.

Researchers at I-FIM are already working on solutions at the material level, such as a targeted drug delivery agent. A novel drug delivery agent based on 2D electrolytes, for example, will allow targeted drug delivery. This is especially important for diseases like cancer, because the smart material only releases the drug’s payload when it detects the presence of a cancer cell, leaving healthy cells unharmed. 2D electrolytes also show promise in other applications, such as artificial muscles and energy storage, where materials must be responsive to environmental changes. Another example is that of emerging composites of living materials which extract electrical energy from bacteria through a close synergy of biotic and abiotic elements.

In addition, the I-FIM Principal Investigator said that the new materials developed at I-FIM can be used in various fields including life sciences and medicine. With the new approach to materials research that I-FIM will adopt, applications such as artificial photosynthesis, artificial neurons and even artificial tissues will now be possible.

The NUS president reportedly said: “Materials research is poised to play a central role in solving some of the world’s most pressing challenges. For this reason, we have designated it as a key area of ​​focus at NUS, and over the years we have amassed some of the world’s most prolific and prominent talent in this important area.

Given the wide range of FIM applications, the researchers intend to first investigate those that have the most impact and utility for Singapore, while striking a healthy balance between ambition and realism. The I-FIM team is also anticipating the formation of spin-offs in the fields of big data, machine learning, artificial intelligence and robotics, both for the design of materials and for specific applications. I-FIM will establish the core expertise and infrastructure for the advancement of machine learning and AI solutions for intelligent technologies and materials science in Singapore and globally.

Singapore’s innovation ecosystem, which includes high-quality infrastructure, a growing pool of dynamic start-ups, well-trained talent and strong government support, is a major draw for global companies. Due to these characteristics, Singapore has become one of the most innovative places to do business. According to the Global Innovation Index 2017, it was ranked first among Asian countries for innovation, and it also held the first global position for innovation input, where the quality of human capital and research was a key pillar.


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