Dr Beh Swan Gin, Chairman of the Economic Development Board

Mr Gabriel Lim, Permanent Secretary, MCI

Ms Tan Li San, Deputy Secretary, MCI

Mr Mark Wee, Executive Director, Dsg

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

Good evening,

            It is my pleasure to join you today, and to extend my warmest congratulations to the five DesignSingapore scholarship recipients this year. I also wish to congratulate your family, friends, teachers and mentors who have guided and supported you throughout your journeys.

2          The DesignSingapore Scholarship was established in 2005. It aims to groom design talents who have the creativity, drive and passion to be leaders in their fields, so that we can develop Singapore into Asia’s leading hub for design excellence. Since then, we have awarded scholarships to 54 talented individuals, including the 5 new scholarship recipients tonight.

Design is key to Singapore’s success

3          Just four months ago, our Prime Minister shared when he spoke at the Singapore University of Technology and Design – good design thinking was a key reason for Singapore’s successful journey from third world to first, and will be critical in the country’s future transformation, for us to remain an outstanding city in the world.

4          Good design is key to Singapore’s success, and it will be a key tool for our enterprises and economy to maintain their competitive edge in the fast-changing global landscape.

5          Companies in Singapore also recognise this. A study by the DesignSingapore Council found that companies are investing more in design and design training, and are also increasingly giving designers a seat in the boardroom, to drive strategic use of design in their businesses.

Design is a critical skillset in the digital future

6          As the global economy is becoming more digital and connected, disruptive technologies have transformed industries and changed the nature of many jobs.

7          Design helps us tackle these complex challenges, and create compelling and delightful experiences from the users’ perspective. Take for example the recently launched ‘Moments of Life (Families)’ app, which our scholar Cheong Yian Ling worked on with a few other designers. It provides an integrated digital platform for parents of young children to access useful Government services and information.

8          While it is simple and hassle-free to use, achieving this simplicity required a complex balancing of user, business and technical needs. This is the essence of good design, which will help us build solutions that fully harness the potential of new technologies, while keeping them relevant and intuitive for the people they are meant for.

Design is a rewarding career for young Singaporeans

9          Designers also have the skills and opportunities to pursue careers beyond the design sector, in areas such as finance, healthcare and the public service.

10          An example is Chua Jia Xiang, who completed a Master of Arts in Service Design at the Royal College of Art in 2017 on a DesignSingapore Scholarship. He is now working in Tan Tock Seng Hospital, helping to make the experience of receiving care in hospitals better through design.

11          MNCs such as Johnson & Johnson and P&G have also set up design and innovation centres in Singapore, a testament to Singapore’s strong education system and our standing as a leading innovation hub in the world.

12          The opportunities for young Singaporeans will continue to grow, as businesses and public organisations increasingly recognise the importance of design in the digital future.

Enhancements to the DesignSingapore scholarship framework to better groom and provide ground up support for our design talents

13          To help equip our young design talents with the networks and skills to flourish in this new environment, we have enhanced the DesignSingapore scholarship framework to provide our designers a stronger and more holistic programme to support their careers.

14          The new scholarship framework will better support our scholars financially, and in career planning, mentorship, internships, and networking opportunities.

15          Scholars will also be part of the DesignSingapore Associates Network, where you can contribute more actively to Singapore’s design scene, by guiding young designers and sharing your learnings and insights.

Diversity of talent from Singapore

16          Our scholars reflect the broad diversity of talent in Singapore, with works spanning from architecture to illustration to interactive media.

17          Many of them have also done Singapore proud by bringing Singaporean design to an international level. Hans Tan, who is from our first batch of scholars in 2005, is one example. His work has been shown in Cologne, Paris, Rome and beyond, and is also held in the collections of museums like the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum in New York.

18          He was also recognised just last month with Singapore’s highest honour for designers, the President’s Design Award – Designer of the Year, for his rich and diverse portfolio that is “proudly and poetically Singaporean”, and his contributions to design education in Singapore.

19          Although all our scholars show immense creative talent and potential, that is not all we look for. We also look for the drive to push boundaries and pursue excellence; the passion for design and to make a difference; and most importantly, we look for a heart to serve Singapore – the commitment, compassion and desire to use your talent to make life better for your fellow Singaporeans.

20          This scholarship recognises all these qualities, and offers our young talents a chance to learn from the best around the world. I want to encourage our new scholars to stay humble and learn from your friends and new environments, as you start this chapter of your journeys in Japan, the U.K and the U.S.

21          Collaborate with people from other domains and industries, and apply what you learn to your work, for it is at the intersection of these diverse disciplines that creativity abounds.


22          Each of you has a role to play in bringing Singaporean design to the world stage, and in making Singapore a great place to live, learn, work, and play. I look forward to seeing your accomplishments, and your future contributions to building a better Singapore by design.

23          Once again, my warmest congratulations to our new DesignSingapore scholars. 

24          Thank you.

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