FIRST Industry Workshop 2021

The FIRST Industry Workshop aims to foster and expand industry-academia ties by showcasing relevant research capabilities with industry-relevant applications, reinforcing SUTD’s role as a vital anchor within a vibrant ecosystem of partnerships between academia, industry and the Government.
Since its inception in 2016, the FIRST Industry Workshop has gone from strength to strength - the 2021 edition, which took place on 28 July 2021, saw over 1,000 attendees from all over the world (about 700 of whom were from industry). Due to the global pandemic, the event has also gone virtual for its first time. Participants garnered insights and experiences shared by our Keynote Speakers and Forum Panellists. They were also invited to view the SUTD graduate-level research projects and Research Centre Showcase on our official event website. There were also product presentations from our industry partners.



By Professor Yeo Kiat Seng
Associate Provost, Research and International Relations, SUTD

Professor Yeo higlighted during the opening address, that the pandemic has reset the world’s economy and this is the best time to start a new business. When academia and the industry work closely to fuse their complementary skills, knowledge and expertise, it will bring about a multiplier effect at a speed, scale and scope unlike anything that we have experienced before.

Professor Yeo highlighted that for Singapore to gain a competitive edge, we must focus on three key attributes: A for Attitude, C for Change and E for Entrepreneurship. He stressed that Attitude is about behavior and mindset; Changes we must adapt in order to get back to pre-pandemic, and the importance in the presence of innovators and Entreprenership in Singapore.


Manufacturing Strategy in the De-Globalization Age

  • Evolution of Globalization
  • Consequence of US-China Trade War : De-Coupling & De-Centralized
  • Strategy Response to Globalization 3.0

By Mr Chaney Ho
Co-Founder and Executive Director of Board Advantech Co.,Ltd
(Advisor, Singapore Mentorship Committee (SMC))

Reimagining Unicorns of the Future

By Dr David Ong
Senior Partner Naef Group Spiele AG
(Chairman, Singapore Mentorship Committee (SMC))

The Rise of Self-reconfigurable Maintenance Robots

By Dr Mohan Rajesh Elara
Assistant Professor, EPD Pillar, SUTD &
Co-founder of Lionsbot and Oceania Robotics


Theme: “University-Industry Collaboration: Entrepreneurship and Innovation”

Research and development (R&D) centres are everywhere across Asia, as large corporations embrace partnerships with academic institutions for collaborative innovation, as well as the opportunity to recruit fresh talent with the specific skills these companies need. In an increasingly challenging Asian labour market, smaller scaled companies across a broad spectrum of industries must do what they can to cultivate a resilient talent pipeline. 

The Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) is established to advance knowledge and nurture technically grounded leaders and innovators to serve societal needs, with a focus on Design, through an integrated multi-disciplinary curriculum and multi-disciplinary research.

With a structured collaborative framework, partnerships between universities and industry can be mutually beneficial to all involved. These partnerships will build a tight knitted research ecosystem that integrates research, education, and industry to produce graduates and researchers with multi-faceted skills and a holistic understanding of next-generation technology. Nurturing a university culture for industry collaboration has to be an institutional priority.

A holistic approach to entrepreneurship can also be mutually beneficial for universities, and entrepreneurs who start out in academia and industry. With motivated and connected experts dedicated to facilitating different types of relationships, university-industry partnerships can lead to exceptional results.

Each university-industry partnership is a learning experience. Both successes and unmet targets are valuable learning points, because the experience can refine and transform further collaborations into long-term successes and enduring relationships.

1. Factors for success in industry-academia collaboration 
2. Achieving sustainable framework for collaboration 
3. Achieving translational research 
4. Opportunities and challenges of the above

Forum Panel Discussion


A total of 13 research centres and 5 pillars/clusters were showcased at the FIRST Industry Workshop 2021. As a research-intensive university, SUTD ensures its research is relevant to and has an impact on lives and the society. Ideas and concepts are developed and translated into products, enterprises or policies, which will have concrete benefits for Singapore and Singaporeans, such as the creation of new jobs, improving Singapore’s position in the global knowledge economy, or informing national policymaking.

These efforts will in turn build a multi-disciplinary research community with an open and collaborative culture that will also advance knowledge in technology and design.


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