• Wed. Jul 24th, 2024

Scientific advancement and innovation research in Asia

Asian chinese mid adult female astronaut looking at earth through window from spaceship at outer space
image: ©Edwin Tan | iStock

Prof Dr Preethi Kesavan, Head, School of Advanced Technology and Digital Media, at LSBF Singapore, explores scientific advancement and innovation across Asia from a regional perspective

In the global scientific advancement and innovation landscape, Asian countries have risen as formidable players, driving cutting-edge research and technological breakthroughs. While Japan has historically been a frontrunner in scientific innovation, it is imperative to recognise the remarkable strides made by other nations in the region.

This editorial explores the diverse spectrum of scientific endeavours and innovation hubs in Asia, excluding Japan, highlighting their substantial contributions to the global research landscape.

Singapore research and innovation

Singapore has emerged as a leading hub for research and innovation across healthcare, urban sustainability, and advanced manufacturing. Key contributors include the government Agency for Science, Technology, and Research (A*STAR), renowned healthcare provider SingHealth, industrial developer JTC, investment company Temasek Holdings, and conglomerate Keppel Corporation. These entities collaborate with academia and industries, embodying Singapore’s commitment to scientific progress, innovation, and a supportive ecosystem for research and development.

India research and innovation

India’s space agency, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), showcased its research prowess with missions like Chandrayaan and Aditya-L1. Chandrayaan explored the Moon’s surface, revealing vital lunar data, while Aditya-L1 is set to study the Sun’s corona, enhancing our understanding of solar dynamics and space weather. With its vast talent pool and growing research infrastructure, India has become a global hub for innovation in pharmaceuticals, information technology, and space exploration. Initiatives like the ISRO’s Mars Orbiter Mission Mangalyaan and the country’s thriving startup ecosystem exemplify India’s scientific advancement and technological innovation contributions.

Moreover, the rise of innovation hubs and research clusters in cities like Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Shenzhen underscores the importance of urban innovation ecosystems in driving scientific advancement. For example, Bangalore, often called the “Silicon Valley of India,” is home to a vibrant startup ecosystem and world-class research institutions such as the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and ISRO.

On the other hand, Hyderabad has emerged as a hub for biotechnology and pharmaceutical research, with institutions like the Genome Valley and the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) leading the way in genomics and drug discovery.

AI, computing and space exploration in China

China has emerged as a powerhouse in various scientific domains, particularly artificial intelligence (AI), quantum computing, and space exploration. China’s development of the Tianhe supercomputer, ranking among the fastest in the world, underscores its prowess in AI research.

Additionally, the country’s quantum satellite, Micius, has enabled groundbreaking experiments in quantum communication, demonstrating China’s leadership in quantum computing technology. Similarly, Shenzhen’s rapid transformation from a fishing village to a global innovation powerhouse is exemplified by the success of companies like Huawei, Tencent, and DJI, which have revolutionised industries ranging from telecommunications to drones.

South Korea research and innovation strides

Similarly, South Korea has made significant strides in biotechnology, information technology, and green energy. Samsung Biologics, specialising in biopharmaceutical production, has become one of the world’s leading contract manufacturing organisations.

For example, the country’s commitment to offshore wind energy development, exemplified by projects like the Jeju Hanlim Offshore Wind Farm, showcases its efforts to transition towards a more sustainable and environmentally friendly energy system. The country’s emphasis on research and innovation has led to breakthroughs in areas such as stem cell research, semiconductor technology, and renewable energy technologies like solar and wind power.

Innovation in other Asian countries

Meanwhile, countries like Malaysia and Thailand are making remarkable strides in agricultural innovation, leveraging technology to enhance crop yields, mitigate environmental impact, and ensure food security in the face of climate change.

Expanding upon the regional scientific ecosystem, it is crucial to highlight the role of emerging economies such as Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines. These countries are experiencing rapid industrialisation and urbanisation, driving demand for innovative solutions to address pressing societal challenges. For instance, Vietnam has made significant strides in agricultural innovation, implementing precision farming techniques and developing drought-resistant crop varieties to enhance food security and mitigate climate change impacts.

Similarly, Indonesia’s burgeoning tech industry fosters innovation in fintech, e-commerce, and renewable energy, with startups like Gojek and Tokopedia gaining international recognition for their contributions to the digital economy.

Furthermore, the Philippines is leveraging technology and research to address healthcare challenges, with initiatives like the RxBox telemedicine device enabling remote patient monitoring and diagnosis in underserved areas. Similarly, the Philippines’ initiatives, like the New Clark Smart Green City project, integrate sustainable urban planning principles with innovative infrastructure solutions to create eco-friendly and resilient urban environments.

Asia’s rich tapestry of scientific diversity

Asia boasts a rich tapestry of scientific diversity, with each country contributing its unique expertise and resources to the global scientific community. Moreover, collaborative initiatives such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and regional research networks foster cross-border partnerships, amplifying the impact of scientific endeavours.

Despite the remarkable progress, several challenges persist in the path of scientific advancement across Asia. Limited funding and inadequate infrastructure pose hurdles to sustained innovation in many countries. Addressing these challenges requires concerted efforts from governments, academia, and industry stakeholders to invest in research infrastructure, foster talent retention, and promote interdisciplinary collaboration.

Nurture innovation and scientific inquiry across Asia

As we look to the future, we must nurture a culture of innovation and scientific inquiry across Asia. By investing in education, research infrastructure, and collaborative networks, countries in the region can unlock their full potential and drive transformative change globally. Moreover, fostering inclusivity and diversity in the scientific workforce will ensure that the benefits of innovation are equitably distributed across society.

In conclusion, the scientific landscape across Asia is vibrant and dynamic, with countries across the region making significant strides in research and innovation. By harnessing their collective strengths, leveraging emerging technologies, and fostering collaboration, these nations have the potential to shape the future of science and technology on a global scale.

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