ADVANCING KNOWLEDGE AND PIONEERING DISCOVERIES
Many of the world’s greatest challenges are complex, requiring an integrated approach that brings together researchers from diverse fields. We have identified eight integrative research clusters in which we work collaboratively with industry and the wider research community to address emergent needs of society.
- 8 Research Clusters
- Biomedical Science & Translational Medicine
- Finance and Risk
- Materials Science
- Smart Nation
- Asian Studies
in research funding over the last five years (FY2015 – FY2019)
increase from the previous five years
research/academic papers published
articles published in journals with a high impact factor*
CY2016 – CY2020
* Refers to journals with Journal Impact Factor >=10
** Journal articles with 20 times more citations than the average in a particular discipline
* Based on all types of publications
Spearheading medical research for a healthier world
NUS researchers are dedicated to accelerating research and finding solutions for better healthcare, disease prevention and treatment.
Ushering a new era for leukaemia treatment
The Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine has developed groundbreaking methods to convert immune cells into effective anti-cancer therapies. The highly innovative CAR-T cell therapy, led by Professor Dario Campana, uses the body’s immune cells that have been altered in the lab to kill cancer cells. This therapy is used particularly in the treatment of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL), the most common cancer in children.
The results have been extremely encouraging. The CAR-T cell therapy will radically change the way patients with ALL are treated, with the ultimate aim of improving survival rates and quality of life. The successful clinical outcomes have also spurred efforts to apply this technology to other cancers.
Taking on the fight against COVID-19
Our response to the COVID-19 pandemic was swift and unstinting. Scientists from Duke-NUS Medical School (Duke-NUS) were among the first in the world to successfully culture the coronavirus within days. From advancing COVID-19 testing and developing vaccines to identifying gaps in social service provision for affected families, our response drew upon the breadth and depth of expertise among our researchers.
Using AI to optimise treatment for COVID-19
An NUS research team developed IDentif.AI, an artificial intelligence (AI) platform, to find an optimal combination of drugs against COVID-19. It was used to investigate 12 potential drug candidates, representing over 530,000 possible drug combinations. Within two weeks, IDentif.AI found a combination 6.5 times more effective than the best-performing single drug, Remdesivir.
With IDentif.AI, we will always be ready to rapidly find optimal therapeutic solutions for the next outbreak.
Professor Dean Ho
Director, N.1 Institute for Health and Institute
for Digital Medicine at NUS
Protecting frontline workers with DART
A multidisciplinary NUS team took less than two months to invent the Droplet and Aerosol Reducing Tent (DART), a portable structure that provides extra protection between healthcare workers and patients during procedures like intubation. An adapted Dental DART was subsequently developed with NUS Dentistry to protect dentists and patients from infectious agents in the aerosols generated during dental procedures.
There is a need to provide a safe environment for our healthcare workers who are treating COVID-19 patients. Our close collaboration with the NUH team enabled the quick invention and deployment of DART. The NUS team found different ways to address design- and performance-related challenges when many resources were not available.
Professor Freddy Boey
NUS Deputy President, Innovation and Enterprise
World’s first rapid smart test kit for COVID-19
The cPassTM test, which can detect in just an hour whether someone has antibodies that neutralise the coronavirus, was invented by a team led by Professor Wang Linfa from Duke-NUS’ Emerging Infectious Diseases Programme. As it does not require specialised equipment or training to be used, it is able to play a key role in COVID-19 management, such as facilitating contact tracing, assessing herd immunity and vaccine efficacy, and tracking the animal origins of the virus.
To receive FDA approval as the first and only commercial kit to determine neutralising antibodies for Sars-CoV-2 in the world is a very high bar to reach. This is incredible recognition for our team and the Singapore research and biotech landscape.
Professor Wang Linfa
DDirector, Emerging Infectious Diseases Programme,
Duke-NUS Medical School
Contributing to the race for a COVID-19 vaccine
NUS researchers have been involved in Singapore’s drive to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. The Lunar-Cov19 vaccine, co-developed by Professor Ooi Eng Eong and his Duke-NUS team with Arcturus Therapeutics, leverages a new technology called messenger RNA (mRNA). mRNA could coax a stronger immune response from the body, offering hope that the vaccine could be effective as a single dose. Early-phase trials have yielded positive results.
The vaccine has the potential to provide important public health benefits by greatly facilitating broad administration across multiple populations worldwide.
Professor Ooi Eng Eong
Deputy Director, Emerging Infectious Diseases Programme,
Duke-NUS Medical School
Building a sustainability roadmap
NUS is committed to mitigate climate change through education, research, campus operations and sustainable development. The NUS Sustainability Strategic Plan 2017–2020 identified six key environmental impact areas for action:
- Carbon emissions
- Waste management and recycling
- Built environment
- Green spaces
From 2017 to 2020, we stepped up our energy management and optimisation programmes by:
- achieving PUB Water Efficient Building certification for all campus building
- introducing new recycling streams such as food waste
- ramping up rooftop and vertical greening
- installing solar panels on roofs
- kicking off efforts to introduce at least 50 net-zero energy and lower energy buildings by 2030
Sustainability education is woven into specialised degree programmes and modules as well as the ways students live and learn. The Ridge View Residential College, for example, offers a two-year living-learning experience with a focus on industry readiness and sustainability; and students take a year-long mandatory module, “Understanding and Critiquing Sustainability”. Capacity-building workshops are also organised for environmental student groups to foster a culture of sustainability.
Integrative Sustainability Solutions
The Integrative Sustainability Solutions cluster advances solutions in myriad areas such as waste-to-energy conversion, seawater desalination and sustainable urban transport systems. NUS researchers and students, in partnership with companies and government agencies, also use our campus as a testbed for interdisciplinary sustainability innovation.
Climate Action Plan 2030
NUS is accelerating sustainability efforts with the Climate Action Plan 2030 comprising signature programmes – Cool NUS (by 4°C), Carbon Neutral Campus and Towards a Zero-Waste NUS. These programmes will work towards:
- reducing solar gain and heat load generated through operations
- cooling the environment and sequestering carbon through planting 10,000 trees per year
- shaping positive behavioural change throughincreased recycling
From food waste to useful resources
In Singapore, more than 740,000 tons of food go to waste every year. Associate Professor Tong Yen Wah’s research group has been developing an anaerobic digester system where microorganisms break down organic matter such as food waste. The process produces biogas, which can be used as cooking fuel or for the generation of electricity; and nutrient-rich digestate, which can be used as a fertiliser.
We are keen to see whether this model could work in Singapore’s public residences. The anaerobic waste digester has the potential to help towns reduce waste and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as be more energy and resource efficient.
Associate Professor Tong Yen Wah
Faculty of Engineering
DEPLOYING RESEARCH FOR INDUSTRY TRANSFORMATION
We work closely with corporations, government, institutes of higher learning and research institutions to understand their needs and source expertise. This collaborative approach ensures that our research outcomes and technologies can be successfully translated into tangible benefits for society and economy.
new patent applications
license agreements signed
FY2016 – FY2020 (Dec 2020)
Translational Research and Funding
collaborative research & development projects in the last five years
in translational funding from national research funds awarded to NUS teams,
a three-fold increase
from FY2011 – FY2015 of
Financial Year (FY) 2016 – FY2020 (Dec 2020)
We believe in mutual growth through knowledge sharing and technology transfer. Through our strategic innovation partnerships, our research and talent gain greater industry exposure, while companies benefit from our scientific and technological capabilities. From just one corporate lab and two national consortia before the review period, our partnerships have increased to:
5 corporate labs
- Keppel-NUS Corporate Laboratory
- Sembcorp-NUS Corporate
- NUS-Singtel Cyber Security
Research and Development
- WIL@NUS Corporate Laboratory
- Applied Materials-NUS Advanced
Materials Corporate Laboratory
9 national consortia founded/co-founded by NUS
- Singapore Health Technologies Consortium
- Singapore Spintronics Consortium
- LUX Photonics Consortium
- Singapore Cybersecurity Consortium
- Singapore Consortium for Synthetic Biology
- Singapore Data Science Consortium
- Singapore National Membrane Consortium
- Cooling Energy Science and Technology Singapore Consortium
- Singapore National Biofilm Consortium
Innovating food solutions for better health
WIL@NUS Corporate Laboratory leverages NUS’ deep knowledge and Wilmar International’s industry expertise. It aims to drive innovation in food tech and sustainable biochemicals, creating products that have high value for health, nutrition and industrial use. The S$110 million lab will train more than 60 researchers and PhD students for the growing food and nutrition, and synthetic biology-related industries, in Singapore and Asia.
Harnessing the power of data science
NUS supports Singapore’s drive to become a Smart Nation through research initiatives in artificial intelligence (AI) and data science, including:
- The S$300M AI Singapore (AISG) programme, which sets out to build a robust AI ecosystem. It brings research institutions and AI companies together to explore innovative ideas, groom AI talents and develop solutions to major challenges today.
- The Singapore Data Science Consortium (SDSC), which is a key platform for industry to access the latest data science technologies, applications and expertise. Anchored at NUS School of Computing, the SDSC helps companies understand the possibilities of data science in business. Around 40 corporates and public agencies are working with the SDSC to develop capabilities and explore commercialisation.
CATALYSING IMPACTFUL ENTERPRISES
Through NUS Enterprise, we seek to inspire and support the next generation of entrepreneurs. We seed and nurture innovative ideas with experiential entrepreneurial education, active industry partnerships, and holistic entrepreneurship support and outreach.
NUS Technology Spin-offs
spin-off companies based on NUS technology
increase from the
previous five years
FY2016 – FY2020 (Dec 2020)
companies/projects physically incubated by NUS Enterprise
increase from the previous five years
FY2016 – FY2020 (Dec 2020)
Cultivating entrepreneurial spirit
The NUS Overseas Colleges (NOC) programme prepares students for entrepreneurship through global start-up internships and entrepreneurial coursework at partner universities. Launched in 2001, it has expanded to more than 15 entrepreneurial hubs across the globe.
The NOC programme is widely recognised as the catalyst of the start-up movement in Singapore. Over the years, many talents were developed, creating successful start-ups such as:
- Carousell: Classifieds marketplace, now valued at over US$900M
- Circles.Life: Digital telco with >5% of market share in Singapore
- ShopBack: Cashback rewards platform with over 20M users across the Asia Pacific
- Patsnap: IP intelligence platform valued at over US$1B
inception of NOC
by NOC alumni
alumni have been involved
in innovation and
roles at some point in
as at June 2019
raised by NOC alumni
of total funding
raised by start-ups
* As at Dec 2020
Driving the future of farming
Growing up being exposed to traditional agriculture, Ms Danielle Chan saw the inefficiencies of traditional farming. That seeded her desire to “change the way farming is done.”
Her start-up, Citiponics, germinated while she was at NUS. While on an NUS Overseas Colleges stint in New York, she gained a better outlook on agritech in addition to amassing experience in software development, user experience design and marketing. Today, Citiponics produces 3 to 4 tons of pesticide-free vegetables monthly from its 1,800-sqm urban farm atop a multi-storey carpark. Danielle hopes to change prevalent perceptions of farming while raising awareness of food safety, security and sustainability.
NOC was largely impactful in helping me to gain international exposure in different forms of work and different ways of building businesses. The extensive knowledge gained from the curriculum is beneficial in helping me to grow the business I am working on.
Ms Danielle Chan
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Class of 2017
With our venture building programmes, we encourage entrepreneurship as a viable career pathway and support budding entrepreneurs, connecting them with resources, expertise and guidance.
Helping researchers get a GRIP on business
The Graduate Research Innovation Programme (GRIP), launched in 2018, boosts entrepreneurship and the commercialisation of NUS technology. The programme provides selected teams with venture hot-housing, investment, mentorship, industry linkages and incubation support over 12 months. Within GRIP’s first fiscal year, the number of deep tech spin-offs from the University increased by nearly 50%.
Graduate Research Innovation Programme
deep tech teams have graduated from the programme
deep tech entrepreneurs were trained
secured by GRIP teams in external funding and grants
Success in the marketplace
Spin-offs from NUS have been recognised as frontrunners in their field. The impact they have envisioned to bring to the world has been further validated by a series of funding and initial public offerings (IPO).
- Biolidics: Medical technology company developing cell enrichment systems. IPO-ed on the Singapore Exchange in 2018.
- Nkarta Therapeutics: Biotechnology company advancing allogeneic natural killer (NK) cell therapies for cancer. IPO-ed on the NASDAQ in 2020.
- Osteopore: Medical device company specialising in 3D-printed bioresorbable implants. Listed on the Australian Securities Exchange in 2019.
- Proteona: Biomedical company pioneering the use of single cell proteogenomics to improve clinical outcomes in cancer. Named one of the top science-based spin-offs in the world by Nature Research in 2020.
- Visenze: Start-up developing advanced AI solutions for e-commerce and advertising. Recently named AWS Technology Partner of the Year 2020 and listed on CB Insights Retail Tech 100 – List of Most Innovative B2B Retail Start-ups in 2020.
“As an AI company, technology defensibility is important to us. The NUS Industry Liaison Office helped launch our spin-off from NUS in our early days with IP licensing and guided us on patenting. This raised the confidence of the VCs who invested in us, knowing that our IP was supported by NUS.”
Mr Oliver Tan
Co-founder and CEO, Visenze
Making a sustainable impact
We have assisted start-ups to develop sustainable business strategies and secure funding, bringing their solutions one step closer to benefitting the wider community.
A vision of clean water for all
Wateroam was conceived after its founders – Mr David Pong, Mr Lim Chong Tee and Mr Vincent Loka – joined the Hydropreneur accelerator programme started by PUB and NUS Enterprise. The trio designed a water filtration system and later joined the NUS Lean LaunchPad programme for support in market validation. The Lotus-NUS Fund further seeded their venture.
Their resulting product, ROAMfilterTM Plus, is a portable water filter that operates without electricity and removes almost all bacteria and viruses. Wateroam has provided more than 100,000 people in over 38 countries with access to clean water. It has also been involved in many humanitarian efforts such as the Vanuatu Cyclone Harold Relief in 2020.