Week in Review: Let’s benefit from Singapore’s strengths

  • City-state is the top destination in Asia for science, tech events
  • Instead of thinking about competing, participate to learn and network

Week in Review: Let’s benefit from Singapore’s strengthsI AM not one for selfies, but I took one earlier this week. It was with Bonnie Dunbar, director of the STEM Centre at the University of Houston.
She is also a NASA astronaut who has been on five missions to space. The selfie was for my kids actually, as they have a fascination with space.
During lunch I sat at the same table with Dr Ren Wu, distinguished scientist at the Institute of Deep Learning at Baidu Inc. Such a humble man he is, for someone so scarily smart.
I also met Rudy Mazzocchi, a successful biotech entrepreneur and currently chief executive officer of Pulse Biologic which develops holographic simulations of the human body to better help doctors during their medical training.
Oh, and he also helps Hollywood with its holographic effects. Check out what his company helped create at the 2014 Billboard Awards.
I met them, and a few other cool people doing amazing stuff, not in Malaysia but down south at the EmTech Singapore 2015 conference. My colleague Gabey Goh attended the same conference too, and wrote two excellent highlights articles you can enjoy here and here.
There were only a handful of Malaysians there to take advantage of the networking opportunities and to listen to over 20 fascinating speakers who would have expanded their horizons with their discussions on the possible disruptions some industries could face, and what this potentially means for their own business.
Predictably, a senior executive from a Malaysian company at EmTech did say Malaysia should organise similar events. And in Kuala Lumpur (KL) on Jan 29, even the chief executive officer (CEO) of a Malaysian broadcaster I was sharing my experiences with, said the same thing. Let’s have one in KL.
I say that you cannot possibly hope to, not in the short term at least, create such a top-class conference in Kuala Lumpur and attract such a stellar group of speakers.
Because, when it comes to the science, technology and communications space, Singapore has long ago successfully positioned itself as a leading destination in Asia – to not only host such events, but in attracting such visionaries and thought leaders.
The fact that it is the regional hub for so many tech companies just enhances its attraction as the top location in Asia for such events.
And I think this is great. Singapore is only a 60-min plane hop, which makes it an ideal day trip for conferences. If you want to drive, it is a five-hour trip. Imagine if this conference and other similar events were regularly held in South Korea or Tokyo. Would I go? Would you?
The former CEO of a US tech company’s KL operations, and who now is with a listed company in KL, agrees.
“Look at the concept of tai chi. Why go against the wind? Let’s just capitalise on Singapore’s strength as a world-class technology conference destination and participate in the events that interest us and we can learn from.
“Drop this fixation with wanting to organise these events or bringing the speakers to Malaysia,” says the senior executive, who has been going down to Singapore over the past 15 years for various conferences.
So I really hope more Malaysians take advantage of the close proximity of Singapore and enjoy and learn from some of the world-class science, innovation and technology events that happen regularly there.
Editor’s Picks:
EmTech Singapore: Conquering challenges on Earth … and beyond
Big data: Malaysia takes ‘small but significant’ first step
Axiata believes it's not too late to tackle digital media play
CIOs need to focus on vision, not control: Gartner
Disrupting industries, and Vertex Venture’s double purpose
99.co gets US$1.5mil, led by Eduardo Saverin, Sequoia Capital
Brandt International to invest US$56mil to grow BPO business
Previous Instalments:
Week in Review: Everything is interlinked
Week in Review: Smart nation, digital nation 
Week in Review: Plugging gaps on road to Vision 2020
Week in Review: Ecosystem cogs moving into gear
Week in Review: Malaysian ecosystem still reliant on govt

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