The Singapore Prize – Celebrating Excellence in Science and Technology

A new Singapore prize celebrates individuals and groups who are pushing the boundaries of research. Launched in 2021, the President’s Science and Technology Award (PSTA) is a flagship award from the National Research Foundation, Singapore.

“We believe that it is important to recognise and celebrate people who have made significant contributions to Singapore in the field of science and technology,” said Dr Ng Chee Yong, chairman of the PSTA Selection Committee.

The prestigious PSTA will be presented at an awards ceremony this month, with the winners being honoured by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. The winning teams and individuals will be rewarded with cash prizes, including the Grand Champion. There will also be special awards for young scientists and innovators, and the best research project.

In a sign of the increasing focus on boosting research and innovation in Singapore, the country is introducing a new prize to recognise those who are helping to build a vibrant research and development ecosystem. The newly launched Singapore Water Prize will recognise the achievements of researchers and industry leaders who have made valuable contributions to protecting our water environment.

Unlike the Nobel and Pulitzer prize, which are awarded for individual achievement, the new prize will recognise and reward a team or organisation for their work. It will be announced in October this year.

The prize will be awarded by a panel of judges, which includes academics and researchers from universities and the private sector. It will be a combination of public and private funding, with the Government of Singapore providing an initial endowment of S$500,000. The rest of the money will be raised through donations from organisations and the general public.

A total of six books have been shortlisted for this year’s prize. The titles include historical tomes such as Seven Hundred Years: A History Of Singapore by Kwa Chong Guan, Tan Tai Yong and Peter Borschberg, and novels with a personal slant. Kamaladevi Aravindan’s novel Sembawang (2020, available here) details life in an estate across five decades. The book’s inclusion in the shortlist for the NUS History Prize, which was established in 2014 to mark SG50, challenges the idea that history is only about big movers and shakers.

Prof Miksic, who was a member of the four-member jury that picked the winner for the prize, echoed this sentiment. The NUS Asia Research Institute distinguished fellow said that nations were ”imagined communities”, and the common thread in their identities is their shared past.

NUS may also consider extending the scope of the prize in the future to cover other forms of fiction such as movies, novels and comics, said Prof Mahbubani. “We may need to do this, because at times history can be told better in those formats,” he said.

This article is part of a series on winners of the Singapore Prize, published as part of the annual research and innovation issue of The Straits Times. To view other stories in this series, click here.