Czech-Singapore Technology Days
Singapore, however small and relaltively young country it is, has gained an indelible position on the map of world science and technology centres. As a commercial port on a small island (only some 700 km2) without resources, Singapore always had to rely upon the skills and capacities of its multiethnic people. Singapore leaders were always aware that prosperity can be achieved and maintained only in a free environment, inviting to free competition and exchange of ideas. However paternalistic the country‘s politics may seem, small Singapore always formulated a provident strategy for its future years based on the top-edge ideas for future development. So the development of financial sector, unsurprising in one of the biggest World ports, went hand in hand with the startegies of development of intensive industries guaranteeing high value added. In the sixties, shortly after independence, Singapore quickly became one of the hubs of just developing electronic industry based on newest findings – semiconductors, later integrated circuits etc. It became soon obvious that should the small country become independent of the foreign concerns, it should develop its own technologies based on results of its own research. This soon became a state strategy significantly supported by the state budget.
Singapore is one of few countries which can afford to fully support development of the so called „knowledge-based“ society. Renowned scientists as well as students are aggregating to Singapore, lured by exceptionally generous conditions for their work. While in Europe they have to udergo lengthy procedures applying for grants, in Singapore lot of things are resolved very quickly, due to enormous budget that is thrown to scientific research. There are few places in the World, if any, where up-to-tomorrow institutes are mushrooming with such a incredible speed. This is valid not only for sciences where an industrial output may be soon expected, but also for basic sciences and even social sciences with seemingly loose link to profitable output. And, staunch defender of the free market in commerce, Singapore is also a stalwart of free market in science. Therefore, however our resources may be limited compared to Singapore, we can learn from the city state twice: once in each of the multitude of specializations of Singapore laboratories, and once more in the role science is given in the society and how it is organized.
From the Czech perspective, it is interesting to note that Singapore hosts the biggest Czech nationals cluster in South-East Asia. Unlike in countries lika USA or Australia, they are neither descendants of emigrees who were forced to leave their country for a better living in freedom and democracy, nor adventurers, but mostly higly qualified people, coming to fresh-up their ideas in contact with their colleagues. A notable number works in the research institutes or at the universities, others are in hi-tech enterprises. Some come for a limited period, some stay long time. Those who come back home, come enriched in valuable experience, adding to our sceintific or technological culture.
Therefore, however our resources are limited comared to Singapore, we can learn from the city state twice: once in each of the multitude of specializations of Singapore laboratories, and once more in the role science is given in the society and how it is organized. But contact should not be unidirectional. Science and technoly is not only affair of money, but also ingeniosity. While Singapore raises out in the whole area of Southeast Asia as an isolated scientific island, Czech Republic, viewed from the distance of 10 000 km, melts together wit other countries in Europe. So, as other smaller countries do, we also have to show ourselves to the distant world. There are certainly many fields, in which a better mutual knowledge woluld be only fruitful.