Launch of the Australian Innovation Landing Pad

  • Speech, check against delivery
13 March 2017

Minister Iswaran, High Commissioner Bruce Gosper,Steve Leonard from SG Innovate, friends of Australia, friends of Singapore,ladies and gentlemen.

I'm absolutely delighted to be here at BASH (whichI assumed meant Building Awesome Startups Here, but I'm told it's BuildingAmazing Startups) and to see so many dynamic, bright, committed, focused peoplewho are helping to build an even stronger relationship between Australia andSingapore.

As the Minister indicated, we are natural partners.We have a similar world view from a shared history, common values, interestsand outlooks. And this culminated in theestablishment of a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between Australia andSingapore. Under that CSP we are focusing on greater security and defencecollaboration, deeper economic and trade and investment ties, a focus onscientific and research and innovation collaboration, and of course our verystrong people-to-people links, whether it be in education or tourism or cultureor beyond.

At about the same time the Australian Governmentalso established a National Innovation and Science Agenda. As part of thatagenda we decided to set up these landing pads around the world to give a focusto the enterprising entrepreneurial spirit of so many creative and innovativeyoung Australians. These landing pads have been established in San Francisco,Shanghai, Tel Aviv, in Berlin and now here in Singapore. I've had the opportunity to visit the landingpads elsewhere and I've been excited by the deep interest that has been shownby the host country, by investors, by young Australians in particular and bythose who want to see that innovative dynamism explode between Australia andother countries. And it is turning into reality. The ideas that people arenurturing in these landing pads have brought us some great successes.

The Geelong Events Workforce Group has come up withan online ticketing system that has been purchased by US Superbowl for the next4 years. These are significant outcomes that have arisen from an idea nurturedin one of our landing pads.

Singapore was an obvious choice for us. As well asbeing such close friends and neighbours and having a very similar view oncommercial and economic issues, it is also a gateway into Asia. As one of ourclosest partners we were keen to ensure that we could establish a landing padhere. Launch a landing pad or land a launching pad, whatever way you look atit. I'm so pleased to have met representatives of the four Aussie startups thatare already here – hipflask, ebilities, Quitch and Zed, and we hope that in thenext round we'll be able to increase that number hopefully to about 10. The space here is magnificent; I understandironically that this was a video recording manufacturing space. Well that justgoes to show how quickly automation and technology moves on because we now haveso many different enterprises operating from here.

For Australians this is a place where they can meetinvestors, meet people with similar or contrasting ideas, be part of anecosystem that generates creative innovative thought.

Australians are very creative people, don't justtake my word for it. The Martin Prosperity Institute based in Toronto Canadaevery year put out a Creativity Index and Australia was judged against a rangeof criteria the most creative nation on earth. So our people are risk takers,they are innovative, they are creative, and they need an outlet beyondAustralia for their ideas.

Here in Singapore we will see many Australians meetup with other like-minded people and who knows what can come from this collaboration.It's all about competition, all about cooperation, collaboration, creativity.

Minister Iswaran mentioned the New Colombo Plan andindeed we will be having a New Colombo event here in Singapore during my visit.This is an idea I came up with when we were in Opposition and it seemed to methat while the original Colombo Plan in the 1950s and 1960s had done an amazingjob in bringing young students from Southeast Asian countries to Australia togain qualifications, attend our universities and get to know Australia, it wastime that we did that in reverse. Hence the New Colombo Plan. The AustralianGovernment supports young Australians to live and study and undertake a workexperience or internship in one of 40 countries across the Indian Ocean and Asia-Pacific,and Singapore came onboard immediately. We had a pilot program, tested theconcept in 2014, and Singapore was one of four locations that said yes, theywould be pleased to be part of the pilot. It was such a success that in 2015 werolled the New Colombo Plan out across more nations and now 40 are partnerswith us.

By the end of this year, 1000 Australian studentswill have lived and studied and undertaken a work experience here in Singaporeunder the New Colombo Plan. So with our student exchange, with our creativecollaboration and this Landing Pad, I believe will make a significantdifference in the way we see the world, the way we capture technology and theway we make a significant difference.

So I'm delighted to be here to launch the AustraliaSingapore Landing Pad and congratulate all those involved and thank you forhaving the vision and the understanding to make this a reality.

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