wild places | wild happenings | wild news
make a difference for our wild places

home | links | search the site
  all articles latest | past | articles by topics | search wildnews
wild news on wildsingapore
  Straits TImes 11 Sep 07
First environmental research centre to open here
Key areas of study will include future cities, human health and environmental modelling
By Jessica Cheam

SINGAPORE is setting up its first research centre on environmental issues. The centre will be a partnership between the National Research Foundation (NRF) here and a top European group of research and teaching institutes, ETH Domain.

The facility is expected to grow to more than 200 faculty members and students within its first three years.

Among its key areas of research are future cities, human health and environmental modelling.

The study of future cities is aimed at developing environmentally sustainable urban settlements worldwide in the long term; human health will home in on medical applications for nanotechnology; while environmental modelling is a specialist area which tracks environmental changes and recommends sustainable climate policies for countries.

The research powerhouse, likely to be called the Singapore-ETH Centre (SEC) for Global Environmental Sustainability, should be up and running by early next year.

Professor Gerhard Schmitt, vice-president of planning and logistics at ETH Zurich, told The Straits Times that the ETH group was impressed by Singapore's level of research, and that talks to set up the institute had 'come a long way' since last October.

The idea for it was sparked during a week-long visit to Switzerland by NRF chairman Tony Tan in April last year. He said then that the Republic stood to gain a valuable window to European science and technology ideas if ETH sets up a base here.

The SEC will be a cornerstone of Singapore's foray into environmental science. ETH's local partner, the NRF - formed in January last year to lead the island's research and development - has pledged $170 million to make clean energy a key growth area here.

NRF has also set aside $1 billion to create tie-ups between the world's top foreign research institutes and local centres.

SEC is the second tie-up under the NRF initiative called Create, or Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise. Create is a government effort to foster joint research between the world's top universities and Singapore institutes and to grow young graduate and post-doctoral talent here.

Last year, Create roped in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to form the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology Centre (Smart Centre), which will be MIT's largest international research endeavour. About 400 researchers will eventually staff the Smart Centre.

The ETH group, which comprises six research institutions across Switzerland, is regarded as 'the MIT of Europe'. It is famed for its expertise in environmental science and engineering, nanotechnology, communications technology and the life sciences.

Prof Schmitt said ETH was positive about the cooperation between Singapore and Switzerland, which were similar in many ways.

'A lot of good research has been done in both countries. It will be exciting to combine and build on both countries' strengths,' he said.

Singapore Environment Council executive director Howard Shaw, welcoming the news, said that Swiss advancements in waste management, for example, could help Singapore raise its recycling rates.

Related articles on Singapore: general environmental issues
about the site | email ria
  News articles are reproduced for non-profit educational purposes.

website©ria tan 2003 www.wildsingapore.com