Singapore and France have much to learn from each other: Iswaran

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Singapore and France have much to learn from each other as they deepen their collaboration in areas like fintech and smart cities, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S. Iswaran said yesterday.

Mr Iswaran told a briefing: "In terms of French capabilities - research and engineering capabilities - there are many areas with deep strengths."

He also noted that Singapore can learn from France's "considerable experience" in the Industrial Internet of Things.

Singapore's development of payment systems, new areas of fintech and cybersecurity presents another opportunity for collaboration.

"France is looking at this as part of the European ecosystem and this is something we can work together on," added Mr Iswaran, who was speaking after lunch with French Minister for Higher Education, Research and Innovation Frederique Vidal, who is in town to launch the France-Singapore Year of Innovation.

The initiative aims to deepen collaboration in fields like advanced manufacturing and start-ups.

A range of partner events in the two countries will be used as platforms for networking and collaboration.

These include VivaTechnology, a global innovation festival to be held in France in May and the Smart Nation Innovations Week here in June.

The DataCity programme, which launched here last November, will also allow start-ups to come up with innovative solutions to problems defined by participating companies.

Ms Vidal and Dr Janil Puthucheary, Singapore's Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information and Education, will kick off the initiative with a roundtable at the National University of Singapore today.

Representatives from industry, academia and governments from both countries will attend. Ms Vidal will also sign four agreements during her visit, which ends today.

These will renew two joint laboratories and allow research collaboration in autonomous vehicle safety and on smart cities.

Mr S Iswaran said: "Singapore and France are like-minded in our emphasis on innovation as a key platform for economic development and growth, and we can see a lot of value in the development of innovation in our countries and in partnership."

France is Singapore's second-largest trading partner in the European Union.