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Vol 19, No. 09, September 2015   |   Issue PDF view/purchase
COLUMNS
Small, but Powerful. Who are the Rivals?

Singapore, renowned for its Monopoly ‘Playground’ among foreign investors and traders, most often find itself in a competitive position next to China and Japan. Though small in land size, investors and researchers consider Singapore as a good platform to advancing their careers and businesses. Language is of no barrier for most foreigners and, i.e. English language is the working language in Singapore, the consistent and stable political wardrobe are the main attractions for foreign investors and talent.

Most young academic researchers consider their current laboratory or residing country as a temporary career hub. Multiple house-moving is considered as a basic requirement to becoming a good research scientist, and there is little doubt for countries such as: Singapore, China, and Japan to recognize the need to stay connected with their local-bred talents, as well as previous visiting scientists. In several aspects, this approach helps to boost good relationships among countries, and to encourage more novel discoveries in biotechnology. Singapore is the gateway for collaborative work, a place where talented minds meet and exchange good ideas, and to developing products to the healthcare industries whereby infrastructures are available to start the businesses.

China still has many objectives to be met in their 12th 5-year plan and, more social concerns and research objectives will be included in the 13th 5-year plan (2016- 2020). Agriculture, pollution, and the huge income inequality are the few major concerns for policy-makers and researchers. Along with India and Japan, China is a huge incubator to generating talented research scientists. It is not because they were born more intelligent, rather it is the one-child policy system that has engaged parents to not only give the best, and to expect the best in return from that one-child in the family. The social pressure which exerts from all dimensions may have created a Darwinian selection survival strategy to live in China and to move out of China. It is a lot of effort to be the Bing cherry on the cake. With such selection strategy and >50 million people learning Mandarin as a second language, setting up a biotech or a clinical trial study should not be a hurdle.

Famous for their innovations in biotechnology, materials science and robotics, Japan an island nation situated in the Pacific Ocean, have many reasons for their successes. If Japan is not situated along the world’s most active plate boundary, the Pacific Ring of Fire, resources will not have been allocated to inventing new materials for earthquake-resistant structures and materials. Their long-standing history and passion for manga may have been the most probable reason for advanced robotics. It may also have been their attention to details to perfect everything down to that bite-sized sushi, and this quality is regarded as the most attractive element for investors to start-up biotech companies in Japan and to acquire Japanese as a mandatory language.

There are, of course, other upcoming silent rivals, including India. However, it is going to take some time for India to show the world their full potential and progress in biotechnology. For India is still very much held back by the socioeconomic factors in the country. Talented Indian researchers are often located elsewhere in the world, but remain a strong affinity for their home, and their frequencies to establishing collaborative ties seemed to have grown.

By editor: Yuhui N. Lin

What does this box add?

Based on the official site of the Nobel Prize, there are a total of 35 APAC Nobel laureates awarded in one of the followings; Physiology or Medicine, Chemistry, Physics. Among the Asia-Pacific countries, Japan contributes to the most number of Nobel laureates; a total of 18, and mostly in Physics. Physics plays a fundamental role in Science, and not to mention its contribution in the field of Biotechnology and Biostatistics. One of the earliest interdisciplinary work which is still commonly applied today is the Poisson distribution.

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