Impact for the Future - NUS Impact Report 2020

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IMPACT for the FUTURE NUS Impact Report



President’s Message


Impact Highlights


Shaping Future Talent


Shaping Future Solutions


Shaping Future Society


Appendix — Creating Our Impact Framework

President’s Message laurels. As the Zen master Suzuki Roshi puts it, “Everything is perfect… and there is plenty of room for improvement!” I am as excited to share with you some of the big plans I have for NUS as I am proud of our accomplishments. In a place as dynamic and forward-looking as Singapore, NUS too does not stand still. We do not simply reproduce society, but seek to transform it. We also do not just curate knowledge, but create it afresh. And if there is any disruption happening, we’ll be the ones doing it. COVID-19 has shown how quickly normalcy can unravel. It took only weeks of the pandemic for our operating assumptions to fail. Very quickly, we were forced to de- and re-construct our mental models of how society and the world work and by extension, how NUS ought to respond. It gives me great pleasure to pen the introduction to the inaugural impact report for NUS. As with all reports, the bulk of what you will read here is retrospective, and necessarily so. Nevertheless, it would be highly remiss of me to only focus on our achievements or even the works currently in progress without talking about our plans for the future. The impacts we intend but have yet to make.

Categories created based on these assumptions, and definitions of what belongs where, can as easily be challenged. This goes for categories within the University: for the disciplines that are significant enough, we name them and carve out spaces for them. We should not be overly attached to our disciplines and the boundaries we have etched between them, for they can hinder adaptability.

In 2020, NUS celebrated its 115th anniversary. By some reckoning, it is an old institution. By others, it is young. There is a famous quote by the Roman philosopher and playwright Seneca the Younger that goes, “As is a tale, so too life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.”

As the world becomes more complex, a virulent disease will not be the last of our “wicked problems”, problems that can mutate and make a mockery of our disciplinary boundaries. Our students, problem-solvers of the future, must be able to operate unconstrained by knowledge categories, to integrate knowledge and skills across disciplines. And the University, for its research, innovations, and enterprises, will only benefit from exploring untapped margins between disciplines.

I believe this report will show that, whether seen as young or old, on many fronts NUS has been very good indeed. But we will not rest on our



To remain at the forefront of education, we must dare to reimagine the silos we have grown used to. Such is what we hope to do, starting first with our new College of Humanities and Sciences, and a Common Curriculum for both the Faculty of Engineering and the School of Design and Environment. But even as the arbitrary walls between faculties are torn down, students and faculty members must continue to look beyond the new colleges in their learning and problem-solving. Change is accelerating and could make our graduates obsolete, a spiel you may be sick of hearing. But it bears reiterating that the “iron rice bowl”guaranteeing livelihoods is fading into a mythical artifact. No longer is it enough for students to specialise in a discipline that is tailormade for specialised work, where they can stay until the end of their working lives. Breadth must be on par with depth. When too deep down a disciplinary silo, it becomes harder for one to imagine perspectives beyond all one knows. Breadth and academic rigour may be thought to be at opposing ends, where the exploration of one sacrifices the other. But that is too contrived a trade-off. We should not mistake breadth for the mere acquisition of superficial knowledge across disciplines. What we intend with our education reforms is to enable students to integrate elements from different fields and synthesise unique perspectives and solutions. At the same time, knowledge is not static, although it gave the illusion of being so for the longest time. It grows, evolves, decays, and self-corrects. It is edited and expanded as societies learn, now at accelerating speeds. Insist on old ways and the graduates we produce could face irrelevance in the workplace as the

world outpaces the knowledge they leave the University with. To prime our graduates for their working lives, we must teach them to find meaning in learning, to learn beyond textbooks. Learning can be structured and unstructured; from knowledge shared in classrooms and laboratories, over lunch discussions, or experientially. It continues beyond formal schooling years and into work and retirement, thus our shift towards Continued Education and Training. Much of learning is exploration, which now takes place in a world where we cannot even enumerate the different possibilities, much less assign probabilities to them. While frustrating, such explorations can at times lead to serendipitous insights. As a learning institution, while we teach the syllabus and ensure certain learning outcomes, we must reserve space for our students to do just that. A university is more than a precursor to the workplace. It is the sweet spot between adolescence and adulthood where individuals are free to explore, fail, and realise themselves, without the repercussions of real life. Instead of cogs in a machine, we want our graduates to be critical thinkers and flexible learners, ready to learn and unlearn as the world unearths new information and introduces new disruptors.

Professor Tan Eng Chye NUS President



Impact is central to everything we do at NUS. Since our founding in 1905, NUS has empowered individuals to achieve their potential and helped to build a nation. Today, our impact extends beyond Singapore, to Asia and the rest of the world. Our vision is to be a leading global university shaping the future. In pursuit of this vision, we are drawing on our education, research, innovation and enterprise capabilities to make the world a better place — shaping talent, solutions and society — for a brighter future.



Impact Highlights (2016 – 2020) Shaping Future Talent

NUS graduates commanded an 8% compared to other graduates in 2019

We are rethinking education to develop future-ready talent, promote lifelong learning and enable social mobility.

NUS graduates ranked 9


premium in monthly salary

in global employability in 2020

30,000 undergraduates enrolled in NUS each year — >40%, the largest share, of total university enrolment in Singapore S$673.3M in financial aid provided, benefitting 50% of each cohort >450,000 people took up continuing education at NUS to upskill and reskill

Shaping Future Solutions

46,838 academic papers published, and 3,476 in journals with a high impact factor

We are pursuing impactful research, driving innovation and catalysing enterprises to create solutions to realworld problems.

>S$3.74B in research funding, a 32% increase from the previous five years

1,989 new patent applications 125 spin-off companies based on NUS technology — >3x increase from the previous five years

Shaping Future Society We are advancing society by informing public policy development, serving our local community and contributing to international development.

NUS alumni make up half of the 14th Singapore Parliament

>200 local and >150 overseas community projects run by NUS students 75 collaborative research projects on public policy with national government >640 publications and >5,300 citations related to public policy research




FUTURE TALENT We are rethinking education to develop future-ready talent, promote lifelong learning and enable social mobility.

Education is at the core of our role as a university. We are committed to preparing our students for a complex world, and nurturing our employees to fulfill their potential. Talent is our bedrock, and we seek to nurture it in inclusive and accessible ways. Our key areas of impact Developing future-ready talent Promoting a culture of lifelong learning Providing inclusive and accessible education Empowering our employees

DEVELOPING FUTURE-READY TALENT The workplace of the future demands resilience and adaptability. It requires talented individuals who can think and work across multiple domains, and who are keen to reskill and upskill. Each semester, NUS strives to nurture these traits and capabilities in over 40,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students who participate in almost 4,000 modules across 17 faculties and schools.

Annual undergraduate enrolment of


— the largest share (>40%) of total university enrolment in Singapore*


Based on data from the Singapore Ministry of Education of the total enrolment in six publicly-funded Autonomous Universities from Academic Year (AY) 2016 – AY2019


graduation rate

9 in 10 NUS students find employment within six months of graduation

97.4% first-year retention rate

Based on Joint Autonomous Universities Graduate Employment Survey AY2016 – AY2019 Data represents the average between Jan 2016 – Dec 2019

NUS graduates are among the world’s top 10 for employability — ranked


in the Global Employability Ranking and Survey 2020 The Global Employability Ranking and Survey is the largest and longest running ranking of global employability worldwide. Published every year since 2010, the survey is based exclusively on recruiters’ opinions — in 2020, some 108,000 votes were canvassed from 9,000 recruiters in 22 countries, rating the employability performance of 6,000 international institutions. Through this survey, NUS joins the ranks of universities like the California Institute of Technology, Harvard University, the University of Oxford and the University of Tokyo in global employability.



Shaping Future Talent

In 2019, fresh NUS graduates in full-time permanent employment commanded a mean gross monthly salary that is

1 in 4

8% higher

students participate in career readiness programmes, or meet with a certified Career Advisor for one-on-one coaching every year, at our Centre for Future-Ready Graduates

compared to graduates from other local autonomous universities

Graduate Employment Rate1 89.3%










Graduate Mean Income (gross monthly in SGD)












Percentage of students within the same cohort who found employment within six months of graduation * Includes graduates on the SGUnited Traineeships Programme ** Full-time permanent employment



Shaping Future Talent

Rethinking education We live in a world that is changing faster than ever before. The jobs and careers of the future require problem-solvers who see solutions in the spaces between disciplines, who can think creatively and integrate insights across different fields. At NUS, we have always had a strong commitment to nurturing adaptability and resilience in our students, preparing them for a dynamic and uncertain future. Today, we continue to develop our approach to education by championing interdisciplinary learning. Pioneering interdisciplinary learning The new College of Humanities and Sciences, launched in December 2020, marks a deeper emphasis on interdisciplinary learning, and is another milestone in NUS’ drive to provide both breadth and depth of learning, and enable student-centric pathways with more choice and flexibility. More than 2,000 undergraduate students will be admitted every year into the College, which draws on the expertise of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and the Faculty of Science. Students will have access to more than 1,000 modules offered in both faculties, based on a curated curriculum. This unique pedagogy will be further reinforced with experiential learning opportunities which give students real-world experience and increases their market relevancy.

Students will learn to harness and integrate knowledge, insights, skills and experiences across disciplines, and be more proficient in presenting informed solutions to the multifaceted problems they will face in their future careers. Professor Tan Eng Chye NUS President



Building a community that lives and learns together The University Town College Programme is a residential programme that brings students of different disciplines, cultures and nationalities together to live and learn in a setting that encourages multi-perspectival thinking and interactions. Offered at three residential colleges, the programme aims to equip students to tackle the complex, interconnected challenges facing the world today, by immersing them in vibrant learning communities that are undergirded by intellectual rigour and curiosity.

Pursuing a Double Degree in Mechanical Engineering and Economics has allowed me to gain a solid technical foundation in designing and implementing solutions, while also understanding social and economic considerations. I believe this interdisciplinary training has effectively developed my ability to add value to society in a unique way. It has also given me the confidence to start a regional pre-seed incubator to empower and scale over 25 innovative social enterprises over the past 3 years. Mr Yarlagadda Sai Surya Tembusu College, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and Faculty of Engineering, Class of 2021 Co-Founder & CEO, Interseed

Shaping Future Talent

Shaping the future workforce We ensure that our students gain practical, real-world experience that increases their market relevancy. Classroom education is reinforced with experiential learning through internships, fieldwork and capstone projects. Beyond helping our students acquire skills and knowledge for the future of work, we also seek to empower

Equipping students to take on opportunities in the new economy Ms Madeline Lee graduated with a business degree from NUS in 2020 and was joining a payments technology company for her first full-time role. As someone with a non-technical background, she felt the need to upgrade her knowledge of FinTech fundamentals, as well as basic programming, to prepare for the job. She enrolled in the NUSFinTechSG Programme offered by the NUS School of Computing, which was designed to make FinTech skills in the business and technical domains accessible for beginners and introduce participants to the latest technologies and tools in the FinTech industry.

them to explore their passions and find their unique footing in the world. Over the last five years, NUS graduates have consistently achieved high employability which has increased over the years, according to the Joint Autonomous Universities Graduate Employment Survey.

I definitely faced many challenges while learning how to code and program, but the steep learning curve pushed me beyond my comfort zone and the community of professors and students from the programme were very helpful whenever I encountered any problems. I have benefitted from it and I hope that more people will be encouraged to learn new things, especially in this everchanging world. Ms Madeline Lee NUS Business School, Class of 2020



Shaping Future Talent

Nurturing the next generation of community leaders The Chua Thian Poh Community Leadership Programme (CTPCLC) was established in 2011 with generous gifts from philanthropist Mr Chua Thian Poh, a business and community leader. The programme aims to groom Singapore’s next generation of community leaders by honing intellectual and practical skills to address social and community challenges in Singapore, and beyond.

As part of this programme, students undertake a practicum module where they partner community organisations to conduct community-based research and acquire hands-on experience in community development work. To date, about 500 students have enrolled in the programme, working together with more than 100 organisational partners to reach out to various marginalised communities in Singapore.

CTPCLC gave me the opportunity to read the module on social entrepreneurship, even though I was in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Coupled with the heightened awareness of different marginalised communities through my involvement in the interest hubs, these experiences led me to think about using entrepreneurship to address social issues we face in Singapore. I went on to do an internship with a social enterprise start-up, through CTPCLC’s contact, which further increased my exposure and interest to embark on my social entrepreneurship journey. Mr Lim Wei Jie Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Class of 2017 Co-Founder, Foreword Coffee



Shaping Future Talent

Providing a global learning experience Being global is embedded in our vision. As we aspire towards being a leading global university that shapes the future, we provide students with a plethora of opportunities to live, study and work abroad. This global learning experience will be crucial to nurturing cross-cultural adaptability in our students, equipping them to thrive as citizens of the world. A global dimension is also brought into our classrooms — visiting international fellows bring with them diverse perspectives and experiences, sparking stimulating discussions and enriching our students’ views on global topics and issues. Student experiences and insights from around the globe Our global initiatives include the Student Exchange, International Summer/Winter and International Research Attachment programmes, and Study Trips for Engagement and Enrichment, among others. We have dedicated financial aid for overseas student programmes in the form of over 30 different awards and scholarships, which increase access to such learning experiences.

>17,000 students enrolled in international programmes from AY2016 – AY2019, a

30% increase from the previous four-year period (AY2012 – AY2015)

Student Exchange Programme

>300 international partner universities in

>40 countries

The Student Exchange Programme was definitely a great experience, and everyone should get involved if they have a chance. I have gained so much more than I expected, learnt a great deal about American/Mexican culture, lived with people whom I initially didn’t know, and ultimately, I feel that this experience has shaped me into a much more independent person. Ms Marilyn Yong School of Design and Environment, Class of 2020



Shaping Future Talent

PROMOTING A CULTURE OF LIFELONG LEARNING Continual learning and growth is key to thriving in today’s fast-changing world of disruptive innovation. We seek to be partners to our students — and the greater public — in their journey of lifelong learning. The School of Continuing and Lifelong Education, established in 2016, provided further momentum to our efforts in championing and innovating Continuing Education and Training (CET). In 2019, we further extended our reach, partnering global online education portal edX to offer a range of courses to learners all around the world.

Number of CET days conducted at NUS

421,309 431,000








people with continuing education opportunities since 2016, bolstering the national SkillsFuture movement to encourage lifelong learning




CY – Calendar Year




students took up continuing education programmes at NUS

participants in corporate education courses

people took up free publicly available NUS Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

AY2016 – AY2020 (Dec 2020)

Reskilling for a digital world — a journey of continuous education In 2019, Ms Florence Ong experienced what has happened to so many as the face of work evolves. After losing her job in sales due to organisational restructuring, she found a position in a consultancy firm that required new digital marketing skills. In order to better prepare for this role, she enrolled in the Professional Certificate Programme (PCP) in Digital Sales. The PCP gave Florence the skills and knowhow needed to strategically utilise marketing software and applications, despite having no prior experience. With her new skills



and knowledge, Florence has been able to effectively and strategically drive sales digitally, further adding value to her new role.

I have close to 25 years’ experience in Sales and Business Development across various industries, and pride myself on my commitment to lifelong learning. Enrolling in the Professional Certificate Programme in Digital Sales prepared me with knowledge and skills in marketing and analytics for a digital world. Ms Florence Ong

Shaping Future Talent

PROVIDING INCLUSIVE AND ACCESSIBLE EDUCATION NUS is committed to supporting all students in their academic aspirations, and works to provide equal opportunities to students of all backgrounds. No student will be denied admission to the university because of his or her financial circumstances; there is an array of financial aid schemes offered both directly and in partnership with the Singapore Ministry of Education and other organisations.



in financial aid provided, benefitting 50% of each cohort

undergraduates received financial aid per academic year, on average AY2016 – AY2020 (Dec 2020)

Benefitting from bursary support Growing up in a big family with limited means, Mr Lim Chong Tee usually played with pre-loved toys occasionally brought home by his mother for him and his three brothers, even if they were not in working order. “I’d usually spend some time after school trying to make them work again, using whatever materials that were available. Most of the time, I made things worse,” he admitted. Whenever he succeeded, however, he would experience immense joy. This experience stood him in good stead and paved the way for the launch of Wateroam, the social enterprise he co-founded while studying at NUS. Chong Tee had to juggle his studies with work while studying at NUS. He was determined not to add further financial strain on his father, so he taught multiple tuition classes every week to earn his own allowance. Chong Tee also took on various leadership roles while mentoring international students and provided free tuition to underprivileged

children. With the NUS Donated Bursary, he was able to bring some balance to his university life.

I was extremely thankful to receive the award. With the bursary, I was able to give fewer tuition classes every week, put more energy into developing my academic, technical and entrepreneurial skills, and have more time with my family on weekends. Mr Lim Chong Tee Faculty of Engineering, Class of 2016 Co-founder, Wateroam



Shaping Future Talent

Supporting students through COVID-19 The scourge of the COVID-19 pandemic has reached far and wide. To help NUS students whose families were affected by the crisis and experiencing financial difficulties, the NUS Students Solidarity Fund was set up in April 2020, with the initial sum donated by alumni benefactors and the NUS community. The Fund will provide a one-time grant of S$400 to students in need of immediate support and relief. To further support undergraduates who need financial help, the NUS Students’ Union (NUSSU) also launched the NUSSU Unity Relief Fund of S$200,000, providing a onetime disbursement of S$250 for affected undergraduates from families who have suffered financially or experienced substantial income loss due to COVID-19.

NUS Students Solidarity Fund

S$1.7 million raised from the NUS community, benefitting

>3,000 students As at 31 Dec 2020



Fostering diversity, equity and inclusion We value diversity in all its forms and continually strive to provide an inclusive education in an environment where the self is nurtured in relation to the community. As part of this commitment, our Office of Student Affairs and the student community organise various activities to raise awareness of our diversity and inclusion agenda, fostering empathy and respect. These include: ¡¡ A Diversity and Inclusion grant to support projects and initiatives that seek to foster an inclusive campus culture; ¡¡ NUS Enablers, a peer support group for students with disabilities, which also raises awareness for disability inclusion on campus through activities like the Inclusive Festival and the Para-sports Carnival; ¡¡ The Respect and Consent Workshop, which aims to educate the NUS community about creating an inclusive and respectful campus/workplace culture, seeding and sustaining dialogues about consent and respect; and ¡¡ The SG Kaki Programme, where international students are paired with local NUS students to promote intercultural friendship and understanding.

Shaping Future Talent

The University has a dedicated Disability Support Office which supports students with disabilities and special education needs. Our NUS Centre for Future-Ready Graduates (CFG) also assists in internship requests and job opportunities for this

Endorsing equal career opportunities for all Mr Edric Wong, a Political Science student with special needs, embarked on a threemonth internship with British Petroleum (BP) in 2020, in a newly created Diversity and Inclusion internship role. The NUS CFG helped to facilitate this match, linking Edric with BP and organising the interview.

group of students. Students with special needs, including physical, hearing or visual impairments which necessitate the use of Assistive Technology devices and/or support services, can tap on a Special Education Needs Fund.

I thank you for helping me have a chance to work in BP. It was a fully virtual internship. But what I won’t forget are the opportunities to work with colleagues globally, and the perspectives I got on oil and gas, as well as the Diversity and Inclusion theme, which was central to my tasks. This was my first time working in the private sector, and I see it as a useful gauge of how well I could perform in future. Mr Edric Wong Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Class of 2023



Shaping Future Talent

EMPOWERING OUR EMPLOYEES Our ability to deliver impactful education, research and innovation, and administration rests on our dedicated community of diverse and capable staff. To ensure that this talented community of over 13,000 individuals grows as professionals, NUS provides a stimulating learning and working environment for career advancement and self-improvement. Staff rotation among different NUS units is also encouraged as a means to develop one’s competencies and take on new challenges.



staff have completed leadership, management, and career and professional development training

staff participated in the Data Literacy Programme in 2020



staff have taken up tuition assistance for degree courses

staff who feel their career goals can be achieved at NUS

Financial Year (FY) 2016 – FY2020 (Dec 2020)

Organisational Agility Survey, Mar 2020

In 2020,



Organisational Excellence projects were completed

staff were professionalised from 75 units

4 new and upgraded major systems to improve administrative functions were introduced



Shaping Future Talent

Grooming emerging talent We develop young talented academics by providing them with the resources they need in their early academic careers to thrive. This also ensures that NUS remains competitive in the current landscape of talent recruitment. These resources include the Overseas Graduate Scholarship and Overseas Postdoctoral Fellowship; Development Grant; Inauguration Grant; and Presidential Young Professorship (PYP) Scheme.

Overseas Graduate Scholarship and Overseas Postdoctoral Fellowship

A dedicated full-time educator track attracts and nurtures faculty who approach teaching as scholarly practice. Through this, we aim to empower our educators to innovate the practice of teaching, support student learning, and contribute to pedagogical knowledge and leadership in teaching and learning. The Educator Development Fund, set up in 2020 across three years, further incentivises our educators to develop their expertise and educational leadership.

Development Grant

Nurture high calibre Singaporean talents for a career in academia by supporting their doctoral studies abroad. Upon completion, they are expected to compete for a position as an assistant professor on the tenure track.

Provides additional resources to young Singaporean academics early in their research career, sharpening their competitive edge amid an international cohort.

49 awardees

35 awardees

Inauguration Grant Offers a S$200,000 cash grant to attract Singaporean academics to join the University as pre-tenure track assistant professors, as part of efforts to build a strong bench of Singaporean faculty.

Presidential Young Professorship Scheme Provides grant funding of up to S$1 million for research, as well as funding for supporting activities in both STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and non-STEM (business, economics, law, art, humanities and social sciences) research fields.

14 awardees

22 awardees CY2016 – CY2020



Shaping Future Talent

Award-winning electronic skin Self-healing skin sounds like something straight out of a sci-fi movie, but it might be coming to a hospital near you. Assistant Professor Benjamin Tee is a PYP awardee from NUS Engineering, who is leading a team of scientists to develop electronic skin for use in robotics and prosthetic devices. His research has already won several national and international awards. Taking its inspiration from nature, electronic skin is transparent, stretchable, touchsensitive and self-healing, like a jellyfish, and has a variety of applications, from water-resistant touchscreens to aquatic soft robots. It also has the potential to reduce electronic waste. Pairing this electronic skin with another innovation developed by Assistant Professor Tee’s team — the Asynchronous Coded



Electronic Skin (ACES), an artificial nervous system capable of detecting touch more than 1,000 times faster than the human sensory nervous system — creates a new artificial smart skin that can give prosthetic users a much better sense of touch. Other potential applications include developing intelligent robots that can perform disaster recovery tasks or take over more mundane operations, such as packing in warehouses.

Millions of tonnes of electronic waste from devices like broken mobile phones or tablets are generated globally every year. We are hoping to create a future where electronic devices made from intelligent materials can perform selfrepair functions to reduce the amount of electronic waste in the world. Assistant Professor Benjamin Tee Faculty of Engineering

Shaping Future Talent

Advancing careers and professional growth We champion an ethos of learning among our staff, believing that it is as critical for career development as it is for nurturing the self. In addition to existing professional development programmes, a guided learning pathway was rolled out for our Executive and Administrative employees in 2020. Designed with future-readiness in mind, this pathway includes a Data Literacy Programme and Artificial Intelligence Literacy Programme. Following the successful delivery of both programmes are plans for intermediate and advanced level courses, leading to a microcredential for data analytics or AI which can be stacked towards a Master’s degree. Besides growing a culture of data literacy in NUS, these programmes are aimed at developing a pool of staff who will be able to support data analytics at the University.

Creating a best-in-class administration The University embarked on a reformative journey in 2018 in a concerted move to institute a best-in-class, competitive and future-ready administration. The Organisational Excellence initiative is a major exercise which introduced various reengineering processes to support our strategic goals in four key domains:

Talent development at all levels is integral to Organisational Excellence. Since 2018, the Organisational Excellence Transformation Unit has been staffed by 37 high-potential individuals, seconded for a year from units across the University. They then move on to new appointments, bringing with them valuable experience in cross-functional university-wide projects. The 18-month rotational NUS Associate Management Programme has provided opportunities for 22 young graduates. These Management Associates bring with them energy and fresh perspectives during their rotations to various departments, working on key projects that support the administrative transformation of the University. The benefits of our Organisational Excellence initiative have been far-reaching. Besides creating an agile and more progressive work culture, the exercise saw an increase in productivity and substantial cost savings through professionalising our employees, and automating and digitalising work processes.

¡¡ Corporate (Human Resources, Information Technology, Finance and Procurement) ¡¡ Academic ¡¡ Research ¡¡ University Campus Infrastructure





FUTURE SOLUTIONS We are pursuing impactful research, driving innovation and catalysing enterprises to create solutions to real-world problems.

NUS is focused on building a vibrant research, innovation and enterprise ecosystem that is able to take theory into practice. From pioneering new scientific discoveries to collaborating with industry partners, we create impactful solutions that are transforming the way we live, learn and work. Our key areas of impact Advancing knowledge and pioneering discoveries Deploying research for industry transformation Catalysing impactful enterprises

Shaping Future Solutions

ADVANCING KNOWLEDGE AND PIONEERING DISCOVERIES Many of the world’s greatest challenges are complex and multifaceted, requiring an integrated approach that brings together researchers from diverse fields. At NUS, we have identified eight integrative research clusters in which we work collaboratively with industry and the wider research community to address emergent needs of society.

Research Funding

Research Publications



in research funding over the last five years (FY2015 – FY2019)

research/academic papers published

3,476 articles published in journals with a high impact factor*

>S$3.74B FY2015 – FY2019



homeruns** FY2010 – FY2014 * Refers to journals with Journal Impact Factor >=10


** Journal articles with 20 times more citations than the average in a particular discipline

increase from the previous five years (FY2010 – FY2014)

CY2016 – CY2020

Collaborations* with

>3,000 universities/institutes in

>160 countries * Based on all types of publications



Shaping Future Solutions

Biomedical Science & Translational Medicine Asian Studies


Finance and Risk Management

Integrative Sustainability Solutions

8 Research Clusters

Smart Nation


Materials Science

Spearheading medical research for a healthier world NUS researchers are dedicated to accelerating research and finding solutions for better healthcare, disease prevention and treatment. Ushering a new era for leukaemia treatment Groundbreaking work has been carried out at the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine to develop methods to convert immune cells into safe and effective anti-cancer therapies. This has transformed the treatment of leukaemia, particularly Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL), the most common cancer in children. Led by Professor Dario Campana, who was conferred the President’s Technology Award — Singapore’s highest honour for science and

technology — the highly innovative CAR-T cell therapy involves the use of the body’s immune cells that have been altered in the lab to target and kill cancer cells. The clinical experience at the National University Health System with children and adults treated with CAR-T cells has been extremely encouraging and supports the potential of this technology. It will radically change the way patients with ALL are treated, with the ultimate aim of improving survival rates and quality of life. The successful clinical outcomes have also spurred efforts to widen the application of this technology to other forms of cancer, such as lymphoma, acute myeloid leukaemia and multiple myeloma.



Shaping Future Solutions

Taking on the fight against COVID-19 The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted health systems and economies the world over. Our response: swift and unstinting. Scientists from Duke-NUS Medical School contributed to the successful culturing of the coronavirus in the space of days, becoming one of the first in the world to do so. This achievement is joined by numerous others. From advancing COVID-19 testing and developing vaccines to identifying gaps in social service provision for affected families, our response was far-reaching, drawing upon the breadth and depth of expertise among our researchers. Using AI to optimise treatment for COVID-19 An NUS research team has developed a groundbreaking artificial intelligence (AI) platform that was used to find an optimal combination of drugs against COVID-19. IDentif.AI was used to investigate 12 potential drug candidates, representing over 530,000 possible drug combinations, and in the space of two weeks found an optimal combination that is 6.5 times more effective than using the best performing single drug, Remdesivir, alone. With IDentif.AI, unexpected drug combinations can be derived to optimise treatment, especially during an outbreak when there is not enough time to develop a new drug.

With IDentif.AI, we will always be ready to rapidly find optimal therapeutic solutions for the next outbreak. Professor Dean Ho Director, N.1 Institute for Health and Institute for Digital Medicine at NUS



Protecting frontline workers with DART A multidisciplinary team of NUS researchers has invented the Droplet and Aerosol Reducing Tent (DART), a portable, tent-like structure that provides an extra layer of protection between healthcare workers and patients during procedures like intubation. It also helps to limit contamination to the surrounding environment. The team took less than two months to develop and validate its performance. An adapted Dental DART was subsequently developed with NUS Dentistry to protect dentists and their patients from potential infectious agents present in the aerosols that are generated during dental procedures.

There is a need to provide a safe environment for our healthcare workers who are treating COVID-19 patients. Our close collaboration with the NUH team enabled the quick invention and deployment of DART. The NUS team found different ways to address design- and performance- related challenges when many resources were not available. Professor Freddy Boey NUS Deputy President, Innovation and Enterprise

Shaping Future Solutions

World’s first rapid smart test kit for COVID-19 The cPassTM test, which can detect in just an hour whether someone has antibodies that neutralise the coronavirus, was invented by a team led by Professor Wang Linfa from DukeNUS’ Emerging Infectious Diseases Programme. cPassTM does not require highly specialised equipment or training to use, positioning it to play a key role in COVID-19 management: facilitating contact tracing, assessment of herd immunity and efficacy of vaccines, and also in tracking the animal origins of the virus. The team has obtained two grants from the World Health Organization to work on this.

To receive FDA approval as the first and only commercial kit to determine neutralising antibodies for Sars-CoV-2 in the world is a very high bar to reach. This is incredible recognition for our team and the Singapore research and biotech landscape. Professor Wang Linfa Director, Emerging Infectious Diseases Programme, Duke-NUS Medical School

Contributing to the race for a COVID-19 vaccine NUS researchers have been involved in Singapore’s drive to develop a COVID-19 vaccine: Lunar-Cov19, which is among a selected number in the world currently being tested on humans. Early-phase trials for the Lunar-Cov19 vaccine, co-developed by Professor Ooi Eng Eong and his Duke-NUS team with Arcturus Therapeutics, have yielded positive results. The vaccine leverages a new technology called messenger RNA (mRNA) which could coax a stronger immune response from the body because of its replication difference. It offers hope that the vaccine could be effective as a single dose instead of two.

The vaccine has the potential to provide important public health benefits by greatly facilitating broad administration across multiple populations worldwide. Professor Ooi Eng Eong Deputy Director, Emerging Infectious Diseases Programme, Duke-NUS Medical School



Shaping Future Solutions

Building a sustainability roadmap NUS’ sustainability strategy is future-focused. We are committed to making a positive impact on the environment and mitigating climate change through education, research, campus operations and sustainable development.

and vertical greening, and installed solar panels on building roofs to reduce overall energy consumption and associated carbon emissions. SDE4, the new-build net-zero energy building, set the momentum for our efforts to introduce at least 50 net zero-energy and lower energy buildings on campus by 2030.

University Town is an example of sustainable development that began in 2008 when a green design policy of 40 – 50% of naturally ventilated spaces was specified and green innovations and technologies like the first District Cooling Plant were test-bedded. The various energy management initiatives have evolved into a comprehensive NUS Sustainability Strategic Plan 2017 – 2020 that identified six key environmental impact areas for action:

NUS launched a Green Finance Framework in 2020 to venture into green finance transactions, such as green bonds and loans, in support of green projects with clear environmental benefits. As one of the first universities in Asia to launch a framework on sustainability-linked finance, we successfully raised S$300 million through our inaugural green bond.

Carbon emissions



Waste management and recycling

Built environment

Green spaces

During this time, the University stepped up its active energy management and optimisation programmes to improve energy efficiency. We achieved 100% PUB (Public Utilities Board) Water Efficient Building certification for all campus buildings, introduced new recycling streams such as food waste, ramped up rooftop



Sustainability education is another key prong in NUS’ strategy; it is woven both into specialised degree programmes and modules, and in the ways students live and learn. The Ridge View Residential College, for example, offers a twoyear living-learning experience with a focus on industry readiness and sustainability, and students take a year-long mandatory module on “Understanding and Critiquing Sustainability” where they explore multifaceted sustainability issues. Capacity-building workshops are also organised for the more than 20 environmental student groups on campus to raise awareness and foster a culture of sustainability among the NUS community. Leveraging our research capabilities, the Integrative Sustainability Solutions cluster looks at advancing solutions in myriad areas that include waste-to-energy conversion, seawater desalination, and sustainable urban transport systems. Our campus grounds are also used by NUS researchers and students in partnership with companies and government agencies, as a testbed for interdisciplinary sustainability innovation.

Shaping Future Solutions

NUS is accelerating sustainability efforts with the Climate Action Plan 2030 comprising signature programmes — Cool NUS (by 4°C), Carbon Neutral Campus and Towards a ZeroWaste NUS — to be a greener and more energy efficient campus by 2030. These programmes will work towards reducing solar gain and heat load generated through operations; cooling the environment and sequestering carbon through tree planting — at a target of 10,000 trees per year; as well as shaping positive behavioural change through increased recycling. From food waste to useful resources Food waste is one of the biggest waste streams in Singapore, with more than 740,000 tons of food going to waste every year. Associate Professor Tong Yen Wah’s research group has been developing an on-site selfsustaining anaerobic digester (AD) system that recycles food waste to produce electricity and fertilisers. AD is a process of breaking down organic matters, such as food waste, by microorganisms. Through this process, biogas and digestate are generated. Biogas can be used directly as cooking fuel or for the generation of electricity, while the nutrient-rich digestate can be used as a fertiliser to grow commonly consumed leafy vegetables.

We are keen to see whether this model could work in Singapore’s public residences. The anaerobic waste digester has the potential to help towns reduce waste and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as be more energy and resource efficient. Associate Professor Tong Yen Wah Faculty of Engineering

The team is currently working together with the National Environmental Agency to scale up the AD system at East Coast Lagoon Food Village, to treat the food waste generated at the food centre. The electricity generated by the system will be used to support the food centre’s electricity needs, while the digestate will be used by the National Parks Board as biofertiliser.



Shaping Future Solutions

DEPLOYING RESEARCH FOR INDUSTRY TRANSFORMATION To bridge the gap between research and application, we work closely with different stakeholders — corporations, government, institutes of higher learning, and research institutions — through our various platforms to understand their needs and source expertise. This collaborative approach ensures that our research outcomes and technologies can be successfully translated into tangible benefits for society and economy.




new patent applications

patents granted

license agreements signed

>1,500 collaborative research & development projects in the last five years

S$28.5M in translational funding from national research funds awarded to NUS teams

a three-fold increase from the previous five years (FY2011 – FY2015) of S$8.3M FY2016 – FY2020 (Dec 2020)



Shaping Future Solutions

Our strategic innovation partnerships are founded upon a belief in mutual growth through knowledge sharing and technology transfer with academic and industry partners, corporate laboratories and national consortia. In the process, our research and talent are given greater exposure to industry, while companies benefit from our scientific and technological capabilities. Our partnerships have increased substantially over the years, from just one corporate lab and two national consortia before the review period, to:

5 corporate labs ¡¡ Keppel-NUS Corporate Laboratory ¡¡ Sembcorp-NUS Corporate Laboratory ¡¡ NUS-Singtel Cyber Security Research and Development Laboratory ¡¡ WIL@NUS Corporate Laboratory ¡¡ Applied Materials-NUS Advanced Materials Corporate Laboratory

9 national consortia founded/co-founded by NUS ¡¡ ¡¡ ¡¡ ¡¡ ¡¡ ¡¡ ¡¡ ¡¡

Singapore Health Technologies Consortium Singapore Spintronics Consortium LUX Photonics Consortium Singapore Cybersecurity Consortium Singapore Consortium for Synthetic Biology Singapore Data Science Consortium Singapore National Membrane Consortium Cooling Energy Science and Technology Singapore Consortium ¡¡ Singapore National Biofilm Consortium

Innovating food solutions for better health WIL@NUS Corporate Laboratory leverages the deep knowledge and strong capabilities of NUS and the industry expertise and experience of leading agribusiness group, Wilmar International. It aims to drive innovation in food tech and sustainable biochemicals, creating products that have high value for health, nutrition and industrial use. The S$110 million joint lab looks to train more than 60 researchers and PhD students who will play a critical role in supporting the growth of the food and nutrition, as well as synthetic biology-related industries in Singapore and Asia. Harnessing the power of data science Supporting Singapore’s drive to become a Smart Nation is NUS’ research in artificial intelligence (AI) and data science, through AI Singapore (AISG) and the Singapore Data Science Consortium (SDSC) respectively. Hosted at NUS, the S$300M AISG programme sets out to build a robust AI ecosystem and grow local talent in AI capabilities. It brings research institutions and AI start-ups and companies together to explore innovative ideas, groom AI talents to fuel industry growth, and harness technologies to develop solutions to some of the most major challenges affecting our economy and society today. The SDSC, anchored at NUS School of Computing, serves as a key platform for industry to access the latest data science technologies, applications, and expertise from public research. Through facilitating industry-academia partnerships, engagement and education, SDSC seeks to help companies understand the possibilities that data science and data analytics can bring to their business and operations. Around 40 corporates and public agencies are working with the Consortium to develop data science capabilities and explore commercialisation of technologies.



Shaping Future Solutions

CATALYSING IMPACTFUL ENTERPRISES Through our entrepreneurial arm, NUS Enterprise, we seek to nurture, inspire and support the next generation of entrepreneurs. We seed and nurture innovative ideas with our experiential entrepreneurial education, active industry partnerships, and holistic entrepreneurship support and outreach platforms.



spin-off companies based on NUS technology

companies/projects physically incubated by NUS Enterprise >800

125 FY2016 – FY2020

FY2016 – FY2020


37 FY2011 – FY2015

FY2011 – FY2015



increase from the previous five years (FY2011 – FY2015)

increase from the previous five years

FY2016 – FY2020 (Dec 2020)

Graduate Research Innovation Programme (GRIP)





deep tech teams have participated in the programme

deep tech entrepreneurs were nurtured

secured by GRIP teams in external funding and grants


Shaping Future Solutions

Cultivating entrepreneurial spirit

Notable NOC alumni start-ups include:

The NUS Overseas Colleges (NOC) programme prepares students on their entrepreneurship journey through a combination of global startup internships and entrepreneurial coursework at partner universities. Launched in 2001, the programme has since expanded to more than 15 entrepreneurial hubs across the globe. NOC is widely recognised as the seed and catalyst of the start-up movement in Singapore, and for its transformative potential on the individual. Over the years, it has developed a pipeline of entrepreneurial talent who have created numerous successful start-ups.

¡¡ Carousell: Classifieds marketplace, now valued at over US$900M, for buying and selling new and secondhand items ¡¡ Circles.Life: Digital telco that has captured >5% of market share in Singapore ¡¡ ShopBack: Cashback rewards platform with over 20M users across nine markets in the Asia Pacific ¡¡ Patsnap: IP intelligence platform valued at over US$1B



participants since inception of NOC

start-ups founded by NOC alumni


Nearly of NOC alumni have been involved in innovation and enterprise ecosystem roles at some point in their careers


Estimated from survey data, as at June 2019

raised by NOC alumni start-ups,

3% of total funding raised by start-ups in Singapore

* As at Dec 2020



Shaping Future Solutions

Driving the future of farming Urban farming has always been a part of Ms Danielle Chan’s life. Being exposed to a traditional agriculture business environment while growing up, she saw the wastage and inefficiencies in traditional farming. That seeded her desire to “change the way farming is done”. The business idea behind Citiponics — to boost food security by tapping under-utilised spaces — germinated during Danielle’s days at NUS. She gained a better outlook on the agritech industry during an NUS Overseas Colleges stint in New York, a hotbed for agritech companies, in addition to amassing experience in software development, user experience design and marketing. Today, Citiponics runs a 1,800-sqm urban farm on the top floor of an under-utilised multi-storey carpark, producing 3 to 4 tons of pesticide-free vegetables monthly. Danielle hopes to change prevalent perceptions of farming while raising awareness of food safety, security and sustainability.

BLOCK71 — A thriving community of support The spirit of entrepreneurship and partnership lies at the heart of BLOCK71. An initiative by NUS Enterprise, BLOCK71 is a technologyfocused ecosystem builder and global connector which helps to aggregate and develop the competencies of the start-up community. Named after the building it began in, BLOCK71 has since been established in the United States, Indonesia, China and Vietnam. In every instance and location, BLOCK71 builds on the unique experience of each entity, the research capabilities and technologies of the University, and the investment and business acumen of its partners, to support budding entrepreneurs.



NOC was largely impactful in helping me to gain international exposure in different forms of work and different ways of building businesses. The extensive knowledge gained from the curriculum is beneficial in helping me to grow the business I am working on. Ms Danielle Chan Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Class of 2017 Co-founder, Citiponics

BLOCK71 Singapore is where it all started — from being incubated at the hot desks to making our first sale. Blood has received a wide range of invaluable support — space, advisory sessions and most importantly a close community of fellow start-ups hustling for survival and growth. As we grow regionally in Indonesia, we’re thankful to have BLOCK71 Jakarta as our springboard to set up our base and hit the ground running. Indonesia is now our fastest growing market. Ms Tan Peck Ying Faculty of Science, Class of 2011 Co-founder, Blood

Shaping Future Solutions

Enabling entrepreneurship With our venture building programmes, we encourage entrepreneurship as a viable career pathway and support new entrepreneurs in taking their first steps. We connect budding entrepreneurs with the resources, expertise and guidance they need on their journey from idea to market. Helping researchers get a GRIP on business The Graduate Research Innovation Programme (GRIP), launched in 2018, is part of NUS’ strategy to boost entrepreneurship and the commercialisation of NUS technology by offering step-by-step guidance to postgraduate students and researchers to cultivate deep tech start-ups. The programme provides venture hot-housing, investment, mentorship, industry linkages and incubation support over 12 months to equip selected teams with entrepreneurial skills and experience. GRIP has contributed to a substantial increase in the number of deep tech spin-offs emerging from the University, with the number increasing by nearly 50% in the programme’s first fiscal year.



Shaping Future Solutions

Success in the marketplace Spin-offs arising from the NUS ecosystem have been recognised as frontrunners in their field. The impact they have envisioned to bring to the world has been further validated by a series of funding and initial public offerings (IPO). ¡¡ Biolidics: Medical technology company focusing on the development of cell enrichment systems. IPO-ed on the Singapore Exchange in 2018. ¡¡ Nkarta Therapeutics: Clinical-stage biotechnology company advancing the development of allogeneic natural killer (NK) cell therapies for cancer. IPO-ed on the NASDAQ in 2020 in one of the largest preclinical listings to date. ¡¡ Osteopore: Medical device company specialising in the production of 3D-printed bioresorbable implants. Listed on the Australian Securities Exchange in 2019. ¡¡ Proteona: Biomedical company pioneering the use of single cell proteogenomics to improve clinical outcomes in cancer. Named one of the top science-based spin-offs in the world by Nature Research in 2020. ¡¡ Visenze: AI start-up that develops advanced AI solutions for e-commerce and advertising. Recently named AWS Technology Partner of the Year 2020 and listed on CB Insights Retail Tech 100 — List of Most Innovative B2B Retail Start-ups in 2020.



As an AI company, technology defensibility is important to us. The NUS Industry Liaison Office helped launch our spin-off from NUS in our early days with IP licensing and guided us on patenting. This raised the confidence of the VCs who invested in us, knowing that our IP was supported by NUS. Mr Oliver Tan Co-founder and CEO, Visenze

Making a sustainable impact The emerging need for sustainable solutions is shaping the aspirations of entrepreneurs and their vision of social enterprise. In recent years, we have assisted start-ups to develop sustainable business strategies and secure funding, bringing their solutions one step closer to benefitting the wider community. A vision of clean water for all Wateroam was conceived after its founders — Mr David Pong, Mr Lim Chong Tee and Mr Vincent Loka — joined the Hydropreneur Programme, an accelerator programme started by PUB and NUS Enterprise. Brought together through a common vision that “no man shall face prolonged thirst”, the trio began designing a water filtration system catered for disaster zones and rural regions. They later joined the NUS Lean LaunchPad programme for support in market validation. The Lotus-NUS Fund, which aids social impactdriven start-ups founded by NUS-affiliated Singaporeans, further seeded their venture.

Shaping Future Solutions

Creating a buzz to boost global food security The agritech sector in Asia is currently buzzing. Local start-up Polybee, an alumnus of NUS GRIP, has zoomed in with autonomous drones that make for precision pollination in indoor farming. They aim to enable efficient and large-scale pollination, as well as pollination indoors where natural pollinators cannot be used, thereby increasing productivity in agriculture.

The resulting product, ROAMfilterTM Plus, is a lightweight and portable water filter, which is simple to operate with no electricity required. It removes 99.9999% of bacteria and 99.99% of viruses, making it an optimal water filtration solution for emergency response and remote deployment. It has been rolled out in more than 38 developing countries and has provided more than 100,000 people with access to clean water.

Polybee’s 9cm-long flying drone is larger than a real bee but nimble enough to cover a huge amount of space consistently, without tiring or making human error. It also has a software platform that allows users to analyse data collected by the drones, such as the number of flowers pollinated. Polybee is offering pilots for pollination of strawberries, tomatoes, peppers and eggplants in greenhouses and vertical farms. The start-up was named a Deep Tech Pioneer by global organisation Hello Tomorrow.

Wateroam has also been involved in many humanitarian efforts such as the Vanuatu Cyclone Harold Relief in 2020 and Lombok Earthquake Relief in 2018.

Photo: Polybee





FUTURE SOCIETY We are advancing society by informing public policy development, serving our local community and contributing to international development.

A culture of service to the community is ingrained in our DNA. We were founded as a modest medical school in 1905 by a group of local businessmen to serve the needs of the local community. Today, we continue to draw on our resources, expertise and selfless passion to help the underserved and contribute towards a better society in Singapore and beyond. Our key areas of impact Supporting public policy Serving our local community Contributing to international development

SUPPORTING PUBLIC POLICY We seek to bring new insight and expertise to complex policy challenges both at home and abroad. Over the years, our research has informed and influenced policymaking, be it in tackling public health challenges, advancing social welfare, or enhancing urban sustainability.



publications related to public policy research released

citations related to public policy research received CY2016 – CY2020

75 collaborative research projects/studies on public policy with national government Projects are funded by Singapore ministries and government agencies, and cover areas including water research, socio-economic issues, social dynamics, employability and financial literacy.

FY2016 – FY2020 (Dec 2020)

Uncovering the science behind a healthy life Can scientific evidence be translated into clinical practice and actionable policy to bring about healthy living? GUSTO — or Growing Up in Singapore Towards Healthy Outcomes — is a nationwide study that has taken a huge step forward in doing this. Inaugurated in 2009 and still ongoing, GUSTO is Singapore’s largest and most comprehensive birth cohort study. It has gathered data from mothers and their children to develop indepth insights on the link between genetics and environment and non-communicable diseases, such as obesity, diabetes and neurodevelopmental disorders. This study has led to far-reaching changes in healthcare policy, such as the introduction of universal screening of all pregnant women for gestational diabetes since February 2017.



In addition, it has achieved 94% accuracy in predicting which children will need learning support at ages seven and eight, thereby allowing us to screen for high-risk children and provide interventions early. GUSTO has drawn major industry funding of S$27.9 million to date from companies including Nestlé, Abbott, Danone and Janssen. Spotlighting homelessness in Singapore The emerging issue of homelessness in Singapore has gained further urgency with an unprecedented study conducted by the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy from 2018 to 2019. The findings, which included a total count of the homeless population in Singapore and detailed data on their profile and geographical distribution, prompted a national conversation on homelessness and an expansion of outreach

Shaping Future Society

services. There was also engagement with the government and numerous NGOs throughout and after the study, including the Singapore Ministry of Social and Family Development, social work agencies, voluntary outreach groups, and religious and ethnic organisations. The study enabled a re-examination of the current understanding of Singapore’s public housing model in academic literature, contributing to long-term progress towards a more inclusive and sustainable society. Pioneering a model for sustainable urban living SDE4, Singapore’s first new-build net-zero energy building located at the NUS School of Design and Environment, is not just a smart campus initiative. It is a living laboratory to explore human-centric and integrated sustainable developments.


The climate responsive, energy efficient and environmentally friendly building serves to model a design prototype that can tackle climate change and sustainability issues. Initiatives and projects launched within SDE4 with industry partners and public agencies aim to redefine the way community design is approached, by placing emphasis not just on sustainable design, but also health and well-being. Insights from these projects can be extrapolated to the greater Singapore community, serving as a catalyst for greener and healthier living in urban spaces. NUS is working closely with the Singapore Ministry of National Development’s Centre for Liveable Cities to explore scaling solutions like SDE4 to achieve urban sustainability goals.

Photo: Rory Gardiner



Shaping Future Society

Leading the way in legal reform Widely regarded as Asia’s leading law school, the NUS Faculty of Law has provided valuable input and advice on legal policies and reforms, both nationally and internationally. One such contribution is the development of mediation in Singapore, through education and in practice. Professor Joel Lee has played a critical role in shaping the present ecosystem of international mediation in Singapore. His research and thought leadership pieces have influenced the development of mediation training standards and the wording of the Mediation Act and the UN Model Law on Mediation and Conciliation. Data protection is another area of contribution. Professor Simon Chesterman, who serves on the Data Protection Advisory Committee of the Infocomm Media Development Authority of Singapore, offers insights on the review and administration of Singapore’s personal data protection framework; in 2020, he was involved in discussion on amendments to the Personal Data Protection Act that provide greater clarity for consumers. Transforming the world through policy research The Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy is one of the world’s most respected schools of public policy. It not only influences important public discussions and policy development at the national level, but also contributes to advancing knowledge and understanding about Asia’s development. The School’s collaborations with other leading global institutions have enabled its researchers to contribute to meaningful policymaking beyond Singapore.



Advancing palliative care in Asia Asia’s first research centre on palliative care, the Lien Centre for Palliative Care (LCPC), is helping to improve the end-of-life experience for patients and families in Singapore and across the region. The Centre’s work has not only informed the national strategy for palliative care, but also expanded its footprint to countries in Southeast Asia where the state of palliative care is less advanced. The APPROACH (Asian Patient Perspectives Regarding Oncology Awareness, Care and Health) project, which involves 11 investigators from eight countries, aims to produce policy-relevant research and build capacity. This collaboration has influenced local policymakers and seen more funds being directed towards increasing access to palliative care services.

Collaborating with LCPC has been an important milestone in my career. I have been working with the Centre since 2016 on the multi-country collaborative project APPROACH, which is the first palliative care study in my country, Myanmar. Findings from the APPROACH study have not only highlighted unmet palliative care needs of advanced cancer patients, but also had a fruitful impact on palliative care policies and services. Dr Ssu Wynn Mon Department of Medical Research, Ministry of Health, Myanmar

Shaping Future Society

SERVING OUR LOCAL COMMUNITY From empowering students to lead community projects to building capacity for local charities, we seek to serve Singapore on many levels. Our approach is based on our capabilities and expertise, our longstanding relationships with communities, and a desire to give back to society. Our students have also emerged as leaders in government as well as captains of industry and the third sector.

NUS alumni make up


President’s Volunteerism & Philanthropy Award in 2018

ComChest Charity Award (Bronze) in 2020

¡¡ Madam Halimah Yacob Eighth President of Singapore (2017 – present) | Class of 1978

>30 non-profit partners on average

¡¡ Mr Goh Chok Tong Second Prime Minister of Singapore (1990 – 2004) | Class of 1964

Number of student-run local community projects

¡¡ Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam Seventh President of Singapore (2011 – 2017) | Class of 1962



AY2017 *



Members of Parliament, Non-Constituency Members of Parliament, and Nominated Members of Parliament

Prime Ministers

student-run projects benefitting the local community



6 Singapore Presidents and



half of the 14th Singapore Parliament



AY2020 (Dec 2020)

Scaled-down activities due to COVID-19

AY2016 – AY2020 (Dec 2020)

¡¡ Mr S R Nathan Sixth President of Singapore (1999 – 2011) | Class of 1954 ¡¡ Mr Lee Kuan Yew Founding Prime Minister of Singapore (1959 – 1990) | 1940 – 1941 ¡¡ Dr Benjamin Sheares Second President of Singapore (1971 – 1981) | Class of 1929



Shaping Future Society

Fostering a culture of giving back We inspire our students on towards civicmindedness by embedding community impact into our curriculum and wider school activities. We provide them with opportunities to develop their own initiatives or address community needs in partnership with local non-profit organisations. NUSSU Rag & Flag NUS Students’ Union (NUSSU) Rag & Flag is a unique tradition dating back to the 1950s. Every year, thousands of NUS students rally together for Flag Day, fanning across Singapore to seek donations from the public, which are then distributed by the Community Chest to various social service agencies. This is followed by Rag Day, a carnival featuring colourful, vibrant performances by our students in appreciation of the community’s support.

Conversations about suicide are never easy, but that does not mean that we should stop talking about it. We are grateful to have the support from NUSSU Rag & Flag by raising awareness and funds for our cause. The team’s effort and hard work that went into the event planning is really heartening and much appreciated by the organisation. Samaritans of Singapore

The NUSSU Rag & Flag has been supporting the Autism Resource Centre over the past few years. Although it is a different team each year, we experience the same highly passionate spirit and enthusiasm for our cause. We are grateful and privileged for their efforts in promoting inclusion for the special needs community! Autism Resource Centre (Singapore)

NUSSU Rag & Flag

S$330K raised for charities per year on average

S$8.5M raised since 2000

22 charity programmes receive funding on average CY2016 – CY2020



Shaping Future Society

NUS Day of Service Every first Saturday in September, the entire NUS community rallies together to serve the community in a number of ways. Students, staff and alumni alike are encouraged to contribute their skills to good causes — previous initiatives range from 3D printing of tools for healthcare workers, to a neighbourhood buddy system to support communities in need. The NUS Day of Service has benefitted more than 20,000 beneficiaries locally and regionally since it was launched in 2016. In 2020, we continued to reach out in various possible ways despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

NUS Day of Service




participants every year

beneficiaries every year on average

activities held over the last five years CY2016 – CY2020

6,130 5,500 5,000 4,500 2,411 2,000



3,727 1,368





Beneficiaries *






32 2020*


Scaled-down activities and participation due to COVID-19



Shaping Future Society

A calling for community service Ms Francesca Wah knows all too well the struggle for families who have to choose between using their money to put food on the table and bettering their child’s education. Growing up, she had to rely on government handouts, and struggled in school. The Arts and Social Sciences alumna, who studied at NUS on a scholarship, would eventually go on to start a non-profit organisation to help children from lowincome families. BLESS (Bringing Love to Every Single Soul) germinated from Francesca’s observation that children from lower-income families often had trouble attending reading programmes as they were not held at convenient locations. Besides bringing reading programmes closer to the children, Francesca and her team have also created a curriculum dedicated to the needs of these children, who are often still learning to read, instead of reading to gain knowledge. BLESS has helped more than 6,000 children in the last six years. For her work empowering the less fortunate in the community, Francesca received the Singapore Youth Award, which honours Singaporean youths aged 18 to 35 for their courage, leadership, resilience and spirit of service.



My time in NUS exposed me to different perspectives and constantly challenged me to think critically. I remember my social work professor saying that there are plenty of resources, but a lack of coordination of these resources in the community. When I took the leap of faith to set up BLESS, my social work professors were very supportive. They even guided and mentored me. They invested their time in me, and I will continue to invest my time to lift others up. Ms Francesca Wah Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Class of 2014 Co-founder, BLESS

Shaping Future Society

Leveraging our resources for good Knowledge, paired with empathy, translates into action for the greater good of the community. From providing health screening to the elderly to building sustainable systems for charities, our students support the vulnerable and marginalised in many meaningful ways. Providing health screening for the community As part of the Neighbourhood Health Service (NHS), NUS medical students have been carrying out free health screenings for the local community since 2008. Targeting residents in rental housing, where a large proportion of the elderly resides, the programme helps to identify possible concerns and diseases early, allowing for timelier diagnostic testing and treatment of health problems. The Public Health Service is another annual programme, initiated by NUS medical students in 2004, which champions health promotion and awareness education for the public. It offers free health screening for common chronic diseases and cancers, geriatric screening, oral health screening and doctor consultations. Participants are linked up with local health and social support systems, and their progress is checked thereafter.

Neighbourhood Health Service

6,793 residents screened

9 districts

16 different services CY2008 – CY2020

Speaking to the residents who tell me that they mark the date in their calendar and come every year has made me realise what a difference NHS is making to their lives. However, the residents who really leave an impact are those who have lost faith in the healthcare system. In these cases, I have learnt that they need someone to genuinely listen and empathise with them, and it is a bonus when we are able to convince them to come down and give the screening a chance. It really brings to life the quote, “To cure sometimes, to care often and to comfort always”. Ms Kwong Shuen Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, Class of 2023 Committee Member, NHS (2019)



Shaping Future Society

Supporting the migrant worker community

Another initiative, Students 4 Migrants, was set up to provide legal education workshops for domestic helpers and construction workers in Singapore. It aims to educate the community on their legal rights, provide avenues of recourse, and improve their access to justice while they work in Singapore. The students have drafted a handbook of legal information to make relevant law accessible to migrant workers; free legal clinics have also been organised. Since 2019, 20 legal education workshops have been carried out, benefitting more than 350 participants.

I have learnt that it does not take a lot to start to understand and appreciate the migrant worker community better. I want to put more effort in creating a more inclusive society for them. Mr Jaymond Tan Faculty of Science, Class of 2020 Project Director, WAO (2019, 2020)

NUS students have been building connections with the migrant worker community in Singapore over the years. Project We Are One (WAO), a befriending initiative spearheaded by the NUS Students’ Community Service Club, is one example. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Project WAO reached out to affected migrant workers in dormitories. They appealed for donations of toiletries and clean clothing, and transported them to the displaced workers. The students also recorded simple videos to virtually greet, encourage and boost the spirits of those under quarantine.



Shaping Future Society

Building capacity for Voluntary Welfare Organisations Many Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWOs) in Singapore can benefit from the digitalisation of processes, which will allow social workers more time for interaction with their beneficiaries. However, the cost of IT development can be prohibitive, and few VWOs have the financial capacity to justify such an expense. Computing for Voluntary Welfare Organisations is a community service initiative where undergraduates from the School of Computing build IT systems to help VWOs serve the community more effectively.

10 major projects completed for local VWOs including MINDS (Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore), Beyond Social Services and Methodist Welfare Services

15 IT systems, used daily by VWOs, are actively maintained by computing students

Championing the green cause

NUS SAVE (Students Against Violation of the Earth), the University’s main environmental student-led group, seeks to bring about a greener campus by advocating purposeful structural and behavioural change. NUS SAVE’s efforts include pushing for green canteens, reducing textile waste and consumption, and raising awareness and appreciation of our biodiversity. A flagship initiative launched in 2010 is Project Box Project Tumbler, which incentivises canteen patrons to bring reusable containers for takeaways. This initiative has proven to be highly successful, with more than 105,000 disposable containers and 40,000 disposable cups averted to date. Another green scheme, the Plastic Bag Tax — which imposes a 10-cent tax for each plastic bag used — is applied in all campus canteens. The money collected is then channelled to the SAVE Sustainability Fund, which provides monetary and mentorship support for student projects focusing on the environment. In 2020, these initiatives gained an important and timely dimension by going digital.



Shaping Future Society

CONTRIBUTING TO INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT In line with our vision to be a leading global university shaping the future, we aim to nurture dynamic global leaders and transform lives for the better. Our students have the potential and ambition to be drivers of change. We seek to empower them to create greater social impact in areas such as healthcare, environmental sustainability and community development.



student-run overseas community projects 48

collaborations with NGOs



NGO partners include:


¡¡ World Health Organization ¡¡ YMCA ¡¡ Gawad Kalinga

0* AY2016




AY2020 (Dec 2020)

* Programmes suspended due to COVID-19

AY2016 – AY2020 (Dec 2020)

Empowering women Sambridha Nari or “Capable Women” was a project carried out under the Yale-NUS Social Impact Fellowship, which provides funding and mentorship for student-initiated projects that address social issues. It was conducted in rural Nepal to equip more women with financial know-how and help them start and grow businesses locally. In partnership with banks and local microfinances, the project brought financial literacy and enterprise training to over 40 entrepreneurs.

Financially, the grant given by the Social Impact Fellowship helped our work reach areas that we could not have reached before because of financial constraints. The farther-away Eastern regions became accessible because of the help of the Fellowship. Mr Sakshyat Khadka Yale-NUS College, Class of 2022 Operations Lead, Sambridha Nari



Shaping Future Society

Seeding happiness Sa’bai, which means “happiness” in Khmer, is a fitting name for a student-led medical mission that has touched the lives of over 3,000 people. Launched in 2006, Project Sa’bai provides underprivileged villagers in Phnom Penh access to basic healthcare services. Every December, students from the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine carry out health screenings and acute clinics for the villagers, providing further support for those requiring investigative procedures or further treatment. Another project, also carried out in Cambodia, is Project Lokun. Organised by the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine in collaboration with the University of Puthisastra’s Faculty of Health Sciences, Project Lokun seeks to reconnect Cambodian villagers to their nation’s healthcare system and improve their health-seeking behaviours. In both projects, providing clinics and medical care is just as important as raising awareness through health education — a recognition that the best change is one that empowers others.

Project Sa’Bai has built a strong network over the years. This solid foundation enables us to shift our focus towards other initiatives that go above and beyond running clinics. For example, the CARE Programme, where Cambodian students conduct routine visits to local villagers with chronic conditions. This ensures that follow-up care is provided to these patients without relying on our presence in Cambodia. This programme is unique to Project Sa’Bai and is something that I firmly believe in as it truly comports with the idea of continuity and sustainability. Mr Ding Heng Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, Class of 2022 Project Leader, Project Sa’Bai (2018, 2019)



Shaping Future Society

Lending expertise to boost regional development The view towards contributing to international development is a long one — we seek to use our expertise to sow seeds and develop capabilities that can be self-sustaining. Our faculty members are involved in advancing education and research by fostering meaningful collaborations, and exchanging knowledge and best practices with our regional counterparts. Supporting the development of scientific education in ASEAN The University plays a leading role in building capacity and advancing scientific education in the region. The TFI-NUS Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Programme for University Educators in ASEAN, which benefits more than 400 educators and scientists from the region, is one such initiative led by the Faculty of Science. The three-year programme, from 2018 to 2021, is funded by Temasek Foundation. Through a combination of workshops and mentorship, the programme enhances knowledge and develops capabilities in curriculum design, pedagogy innovation and research management. Ten academic staff from the ASEAN universities will also be groomed as master trainers, mentored by NUS professors to gain deeper knowledge of interdisciplinary programme design and research management. These master trainers will, in turn, pass on what they have learnt to their junior faculty or graduate students, hence multiplying the impact and reach of the programme. The TFI-NUS STEM programme also provides an opportunity for ASEAN university educators to connect with key government, industry and thought leaders, thus strengthening regional academic networks and supporting the transformation of scientific education in ASEAN.



The Symposium gave me a global view on how STEM-based education can help students, educators, universities, and policymakers cope with new challenges in the job markets and how to harness the power of disruptive technologies to benefit us. However, what I like more are the practical tricks on how to understand the thinking process of students in the classroom and the best approaches to inspire them to want to learn. Associate Professor Chittanon Buranachai Prince of Songkla University

Shaping Future Society

Advancing knowledge of biodiversity and wildlife conservation Researchers from the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum at NUS embarked on a 5-year collaborative initiative with the Sarawak Forestry Corporation in 2015 to document Sarawak’s rich biodiversity for wildlife conservation management. The RIMBA-Sarawak (Research for Intensified Management of Bio-Rich Areas of Sarawak) initiative aims to share and use the information gathered from field expeditions to improve wildlife conservation management and build capacity in this area. Some 10,000 insect specimens have been collected from the Lanjak Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary, from which arose a welcomed rediscovery: an Old World Jerusalem cricket, one of only two species endemic to Southeast Asia, which was first discovered in Borneo in the early 1990s and not reported since. Besides offering a glimpse into the rich biodiversity of the forests of Sarawak, the RIMBA-Sarawak project also raises awareness of the pressing need to protect our existing ecosystem and ensure the survival of wildlife and its habitats.



Appendix — Creating Our Impact Framework At NUS, we strive to stay true to the ethos of our founding by creating value for the communities we serve. In this first impact report, we provide a narrative of NUS’ value creation over five years, from 2016 to 2020, elucidating the impact we bring to individuals, communities and our nation.

Within each pillar, we have defined specific impact areas with key indicators to measure our performance and progress. Each pillar is overlapping and interconnected. Our vision can only be achieved when all the elements of the framework work in concert, with the efforts and support of our stakeholders.

Our impact framework stems from our vision, which provides the foundation upon which three key pillars are built:

Underpinning our approach is a focus on sustainability, a commitment to community service, strong governance and leadership, and a culture of collaboration and partnership.

¡¡ Shaping Future Talent This impact framework serves as a guide for future value creation. We plan to drive continuous improvement in the way we create impact by using this framework as a scorecard to assess and report our progress.

¡¡ Shaping Future Solutions ¡¡ Shaping Future Society




















¡¡ Developing future-ready ¡¡ Advancing knowledge and talent pioneering discoveries ¡¡ Promoting a culture of ¡¡ Deploying research for lifelong learning industry transformation ¡¡ Providing inclusive and ¡¡ Catalysing impactful accessible education enterprises ¡¡ Empowering our A leading global employees


university shaping the future















¡¡ Supporting public policy ¡¡ Serving our local community ¡¡ Contributing to international development












SHAPING FUTURE TALENT Impact areas that define our role in shaping a talented and resilient workforce Developing future-ready talent

Promoting a culture of lifelong learning

Nurturing in students the skills and qualities to navigate a fastchanging world

Championing continuing education to ensure future readiness

Providing inclusive and accessible education

Empowering our employees

Ensuring an allencompassing learning environment that fosters equity, diversity and inclusion

Building a diverse workforce and providing development opportunities for our employees

SHAPING FUTURE SOLUTIONS Impact areas that encapsulate our efforts in research, innovation and enterprise Advancing knowledge and pioneering discoveries

Deploying research for industry transformation

Catalysing impactful enterprises

Pushing research boundaries through influential, interdisciplinary research that addresses real-world challenges

Driving translational research and innovation through strategic partnerships and knowledge exchange with industry

Supporting talents on their entrepreneurial journey as they seek to meet the evolving needs of society

SHAPING FUTURE SOCIETY Impact areas that exemplify our service to communities locally and globally Supporting public policy Shaping discourse on complex policy challenges through academic expertise and new research insights

Serving our local community

Contributing to international development

Supporting the vulnerable and marginalised through community service programmes and partnerships

Contributing our expertise and leveraging our resources to drive change and transform lives beyond Singapore

Data Collation and Analysis i. Depending on the type of data, three different reporting timeframes were used: ¡¡ AY: Academic Year – A one-year study period, comprising two semesters and a special term (every August to July of the following year) ¡¡ FY: Financial Year – A one-year fiscal year, typically used for financial accounting and budgeting (every April to March of the following year) ¡¡ CY: Calendar Year – A one-year period from January to December ii. Data collected is both quantitative and qualitative. iii. All data sources are from NUS, unless otherwise stated. IMPACT FOR THE FUTURE


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