NTU unveils five-year strategic blueprint

November 16, 2010

Nanyang Technological University (NTU) today unveiled NTU 2015, a five-year strategic plan that maps out how the university will become a great global university by 2015. Under this blueprint, NTU will build on its current strengths and heritage to make its mark globally in sustainability, healthcare, new media, the best of the East and West, and innovation.

"As one of the two largest public universities in Singapore, NTU is like a brain trust for our country. Our responsibility is to train the next generation so they have both the breadth and depth of knowledge to contribute to Singapore's economy and take on leadership positions in future," said NTU President, Dr Su Guaning.

Under this five-year plan, NTU will develop Five Peaks of Excellence - Sustainable Earth, New Media, Future Healthcare, New Silk Road and Innovation Asia. These peaks leverage NTU's diverse strengths, particularly its longstanding expertise in engineering and business, and the interfaces these have with various disciplines such as with healthcare, science and the humanities. Besides supporting the new areas that will drive Singapore's economy, these five strategic thrusts will nurture leaders who will help to address some of the challenges that Singapore and the world faces, such as in sustainability and healthcare.

"New knowledge is found in the interfaces between different disciplines. As education and research have a symbiotic relationship, NTU not only transfers knowledge to our students but we are also at the forefront of knowledge creation through our cutting-edge research," said NTU Provost, Professor Bertil Andersson, a world-acclaimed scientist himself, who will be receiving the prestigious Wilhelm Exner Medal in Vienna next week for his work in biochemistry research, joining the league of previous Nobel Laureates.

Professor Andersson has been instrumental in NTU's recruitment of a number of global academic heavyweights in the last few years, besides attracting some of the world's most promising young researchers.

Amongst them are the Dream Team at the Earth Observatory of Singapore which is directed by Professor Kerry Sieh, former Professor of Geology in California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and Chaired Professor in Caltech's Tectonics Observatory; Professor Chris Newhall, a volcano expert who saved thousands of lives in 1991 with his forecast of Mount Pinatubo's eruption; Professor Paul Tapponnier, the foremost scientist of his generation in the field of neotectonics, a study of the motions of the Earth's crust.

Other luminaries include Professor Nadia Thalmann, Director of the Institute of Media Innovation, who is known for her leading research in virtual humans; Professor Vibeke Sorensen, the Chair of the School of Arts, Design & Media and a trail-blazer in animation and the arts in the United States; Professor Staffan Kjelleberg, a world renowned microbiologist who heads the Singapore Centre on Environmental Life Sciences Engineering.

Five Peaks of Excellence

NTU's Five Peaks of Excellence are interdisciplinary, broad and inclusive, with Sustainable Earth identified as the "peak of peaks". With more than S$830 million in research funding in sustainability, NTU is a global leader in this area. Just in the cleantech sector alone, Singapore expects that it will contribute S$3.4 billion to gross domestic product by 2015 and provide 18,000 jobs.

"With the world seeking urgent solutions in sustainability, the career options in this area are tremendous. Anyone interested in sustainability research and studies will find the best facilities and the foremost scientists here at NTU. We have formed at NTU a nexus of centres of competence, recognised for their excellence in the various scientific and engineering niches," said Dr Su.

Centres engaged in sustainability research at NTU include the Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS), Singapore Centre on Environmental Life Sciences Engineering (SCELSE), Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NEWRI), Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N), Institute of Catastrophe Risk Management (ICRM), S Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) and the Institute of Sustainable & Applied Infodynamics (ISAID).

Among the cutting-edge research NTU is doing in this area include the Artificial Leaf and Artificial Kidney projects, which study how to mimic nature to produce clean energy and to treat water more efficiently, respectively.

The interface between engineering and medicine offers one of the most promising areas in Future Healthcare. NTU is setting up a medical school jointly with Imperial College London which will enrol its first 50 students in 2013. The new medical school aims to not only train highly-skilled doctors and healthcare experts but to also make a deep impact on the innovation of medical devices and the healthcare system as a whole.

NTU has developed and extensively tested four types of fully-biodegradable stents for unblocking clogged vessels in the body. One of these, used for unblocking clogged arteries in the leg, has already resulted in a start-up that has investments of more than US$12 million, located in Palo Alto and Singapore. More recently, another stent was developed for unblocking the wind pipe and is expected to be tested in human trials next year, following excellent results in animal trials.

As a university with strong art, media and education schools, NTU is well placed to develop New Media into a Peak of Excellence. This will also boost Singapore's transformation into a global media city. The Institute of Media Innovation, directed by Professor Nadia Thalmann, is leading research in autonomous virtual humans. These can be useful in many real-life situations, for example, as a personal tutor, to enable surgeons to have a 3D view of patients and for fashion designers to try out different designs and fabrics on various body types.

NTU scored a major victory in digital media in May 2010 when it signed a partnership with Europe's largest application-oriented research organisation, Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft to set up Fraunhofer IDM @ NTU. This is the German's first research centre outside of the US and Europe.

As for the New Silk Road, it is a natural route of progression for NTU. Its Chinese heritage and international standing as a global university make it a unique knowledge hub that combines the best of the East and the West. Although NTU is starting with China as the principal focus, the intention is have increased engagement in India, Vietnam and the ASEAN region in the near future.

Yesterday (15 Nov), NTU signed a memorandum of understanding with Tianjin Municipal Education Commission and Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City to set up the NTU Tianjin College. To open in 2013, it will offer postgraduate courses in environmental and water technologies, digital animation, business and finance. There are plans to have an international summer school and an international immersion programme.

Under Innovation Asia, besides research on innovation and entrepreneurship in the Asian context, NTU is also developing a vibrant innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem across the university. This is in support of the government's innovation thrust aimed at underpinning Singapore's sustained and inclusive economic growth.
Internationally, NTU, together with the Action Community for Entrepreneurship (ACE) is a founding member of the World Entrepreneurship Forum - the first global think tank dedicated to entrepreneurs, creators of wealth and social justice, with over 110 members representing 55 different countries.

NTU and ACE will host the 2011 World Entrepreneurship Forum in Singapore next November.

Nanyang Technological University

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