From a fledging nation with no natural resources like water to call its own, Singapore today is home to over 70 local and international water companies across the water value chain and 23 R&D centres working on some 300 R&D projects valued at $185 million.
This speaks volumes for the efforts that PUB, the national water agency has put in over the last 40 years to create a robust and diversified water supply for its people. Today, it has not only ensured water sustainability for years to come, it has also turned its vulnerability into an economic asset for the nation with the development of a vibrant and thriving water sector that is attracting interest from around the world.
Water has been identified as a key engine of growth for the Singapore economy, with an investment of $330 million committed since 2006 to grow and develop the local water sector into a hotbed of water technologies. The Environment and Water Industry Programme Office (EWI) was set up to facilitate the translation of breakthrough research ideas into sustainable water solutions. In July 2011, it was announced that this fund would be topped up by a further $140 million to a total of $470 million. This will grow the sector to $1.7 billion by 2015 and double the number of jobs to 11,000 by then.
Collaborative research is a key part of PUB’s aspirations to grow the sector into a global hydrohub. With sound expertise in the local water industry, PUB welcomes research partnerships to find new and more efficient ways of producing and treating water.
In February 2011, PUB and the Government of Ontario, Canada agreed to enter into a strategic alliance to conduct clean water R&D. With the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), both parties will collaborate in the area of clean water technologies and exchange knowledge and expertise that leverage each other’s resources.
Ontario, the first North American jurisdiction to enter into such an agreement with Singapore, is fast becoming a centre of clean water technology development and protection for that region. The first Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize winner, Dr Andrew Benedek, is a Canadian citizen who founded Zenon, a water purification firm based in Ontario.
Mr Khoo Teng Chye, Executive Director of EWI and Chief Executive of PUB, said that this MOU bodes well for Singapore as the republic aims to attract world-class research and development professionals and companies in the water sector, in line with the aspiration of boosting Singapore up as a hub for water knowledge and solutions.
“Together, Ontario and Singapore are driving the next generation of clean water technologies. By tapping on our ‘made-in-Ontario’ expertise, we are protecting and improving access to clean water, creating skilled jobs, attracting investments, and growing our economy – today and for future generations,” said Mr Glen Murray, Ontario’s Minister of Research and Innovation.
In the area of used water treatment, PUB signed a Letter of Intent with New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation (NEDO), Japan’s largest public management organisation, promoting research and development as well as the deployment of industrial, energy and environmental technologies.
Through this agreement, both agencies will collaborate on projects to enhance the quality of used water effluent and produce industrial-grade water.
Mr Takefumi Fukumizu, NEDO’s President believes that its joint projects with PUB, to be implemented in Singapore, will boost water treatment technology.
Mr Khoo added, “The collaboration with NEDO will further boost Singapore’s aspirations to become a hub for water technologies and create a more vibrant R&D landscape here.”