The Hon Jaala Pulford MP – travel report – Germany and Singapore, 2 – 9 July 2022
|Minister||The Hon Jaala Pulford MP|
Minister for Employment
|Countries visited||Germany and Singapore|
|Date of travel||2 to 9 July 2022 (inclusive)|
| No. of official travel days|
(including day of departure and day of return)
|Number of accompanying ministerial staff||1|
|Accompanied by spouse in an official capacity||No|
|Funding for the overseas trip was paid by (list department/s or agency)||Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions|
|Air fares (including taxes and fees)||$49,129*|
|Accommodation (including taxes and fees)||$9,623*|
|Other expenses (includes surface travel and travel allowances)||$6,286*|
|Travel cost for minister and staff||$65,038*|
*The above costs are not final and complete
Purpose of travel
The main purpose of the visit to Germany was to attend meetings to discuss research capabilities for new drug and medical research breakthroughs. In Singapore, I engaged with key international investors in the telecommunications, digital economy, aviation, life sciences and food innovation sectors to discuss business growth opportunities in the Victorian economy.
Benefits of travel to the State of Victoria
While in Frankfurt, I attended meetings to discuss research capabilities for new drug and medical research breakthroughs. The benefits of my travel also included:
- A visit to CSL Behring’s Marburg Research and Development (R&D) Hub within its well-established Marburg manufacturing site. Once complete in mid-2022, the research site will boast seven floors and almost 40,000 square meters of space and be home to around 500 CSL Behring R&D employees – all working in state-of-the-art laboratories amongst potential sources for external collaboration and innovation. The site will be linked to CSL’s facilities in Parkville and Broadmeadows. I learnt about how CSL had designed the site to support collaboration and innovation. I also learnt about Germany’s life science ecosystem and government support to industry.
- Strengthening the relationship with Fraunhofer Institute for Experimental Software Engineering (IESE). The Fraunhofer Institute operates 76 institutes and research units throughout Germany and is the world’s leading applied research organisation. Prioritising key future-relevant technologies and commercialising its findings in business and industry, it plays a major role in Germany’s innovation ecosystem. Over 30,000 employees, predominantly scientists and engineers, work with an annual research budget of €2.9 billion. Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft generates €2.5 billion of this from contract research. The Fraunhofer Institute for Experimental Software Engineering IESE in Kaiserslautern has been one of the leading research institutes in the area of software and systems engineering as well as innovation engineering. Fraunhofer IESE has a long-term partnership with La Trobe University. Since 2016, La Trobe University has been partnering with Germany's Fraunhofer Institute IESE to establish the Central Victorian Advanced Manufacturing (CVAM) joint venture of the Bendigo Manufacturing Group, the City of Greater Bendigo and La Trobe University Bendigo. In 2020-21 the Victorian Government approved funding of $1 million from the Future Industries Fund in DJPR to support the CVAM initiative and its partnership with the Fraunhofer IESE. I discussed the partnership and learnt about Fraunhofer’s research areas.
- I met with the CEO of Synovo, a drug discovery company with a primary focus on inflammation and innate immune processes. We shared insights on life science ecosystems, government support and regulation as well as discussing clinical trial regulation and approvals.
- I also attended the Silver Jubilee anniversary dinner of German- Australia Business Council to strengthen relationships in the region. At the event, I met with the Australian Ambassador to Germany and the EU Ambassador to Australia. I also met with key business leaders in Germany to promote investment opportunities in Victoria.
My travel to Singapore involved engaging with key international investors in the telecommunications, digital economy, aviation, life sciences and food innovation sectors to discuss business growth opportunities in the Victorian economy. The benefits of my travel to Singapore included:
- Meeting with Singtel/Optus, where potential strategic opportunities for the promotion and utilisation of emerging digital technologies in Victoria were discussed, including through:
- involvement in the Cremorne Digital Hub initiative and the creation of an Innovation Centre, similar to their FutureNow Innovation Centre in Singapore
- a sectoral approach to the digital transformation of Victoria’s priority industries
- establishing an innovation/startup hub in Victoria
- natural disaster resilience
- Commonwealth Games legacy initiatives
- The Singtel/Optus meeting also strengthened opportunities for mobile connectivity in the State’s growth areas, including in 5G telecommunications infrastructure. I was also taken on a tour of Singtel’s FutureNow Innovation Centre and was briefed on Singtel’s transformation from a telco infrastructure business to expanding its offerings as a digital service provider that leverages its strengths in capabilities including 5G, Cloud Edge, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) through its new Paragon platform.
- Meeting with and strengthening our relationship with Singapore Airlines. The meeting confirmed the airline’s long-term commitment to the Australian market and its customer base and thanked the Victorian Government for the support that has been provided during this most difficult operating period. The airline also reaffirmed commitment to the increased flights to Melbourne as recently announced together with the Victorian Government, with a desire to further grow flights in future years as the market allows. I also discussed opportunities to strengthen Melbourne’s relative position in the national air freight market, potentially as part of Singapore Airlines’ recently enhanced partnership with DHL commencing in July/August 2022.
- Meeting with SGInnovate, where I was briefed on the SGInnovate model of contributing to the development of Singapore’s innovation ecosystem by investing in startup businesses that are developing emerging technologies (for example deeptech, quantum capabilities). I also discussed opportunities to better connect the Victorian and Singaporean innovation ecosystem through a partnership between SGInnovate and LaunchVic, Victoria’s startup agency.
- Meeting with the National University of Singapore (NUS) where I was briefed on the role that AI Singapore plays in promoting and building Singapore’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities at different levels within the innovation ecosystem, including strategic national research projects, technology projects that have economic and social impacts, innovation activities focused on talent development and governance projects that address privacy and ethical issues associated with AI. A key component of AI Singapore’s activities is a series of competitive challenge programs in areas such as cybersecurity, healthcare and education to develop technology solutions, promote behavioural change or businesses adopting AI capabilities, and promoting AI across the community through introductory ‘AI for everyone’ workshops. I also was able to discuss NUS Enterprise’s innovative approach to ensuring that its students experienced global opportunities for entrepreneurship and innovation as well as its NUS Overseas Colleges program and opportunities for collaboration with Victoria’s startup ecosystem and Cremorne precinct.
- At the National University of Singapore (NUS) meeting, I also met with Professor Freddy Boey, who has been recently appointed to Hong Kong University and has previously lived and studied in Victoria. I hope to maintain a strong connection with Professor Freddy Boey given your long association with Victoria.
- An Innovation lunch where I met with leading Singaporean businesses where I was better able to understand Singapore’s approach to innovation and learn about some of the innovative technologies that are being developed by Singapore startups.
- Meeting with the National Centre for Infectious Disease (NCID). The meeting allowed me to further understand how the NCID works, how they prepared for and structured their COVID response and how we can further strengthen collaboration between NCID and Victorian medical research institutes.
Next Steps / Follow Up
- Support a visit by Founding Director of Fraunhofer IESE’s visit to Australia in October 2022 to connect with relevant stakeholders to support the Central Victorian Advanced Manufacturing joint venture.
- mRNA Victoria will manage further engagement with medical research companies I met with.
- Continue a partnership between Victorian Government and Singtel/Optus on securing telco infrastructure co-investments and delivering those projects in line with agreed timelines.
- Strengthen Optus’ involvement in the Cremorne Digital Hub initiative, including through its university partners and continue to promote Cremorne as a strategic location for an Optus Innovation Centre to showcase the opportunities for 5G to SMEs.
- Consider the feasibility of an innovation/startup hub model for Victoria.
- Continue to brief Optus on opportunities under the Commonwealth Games legacy program.
- Re-connect with Singapore Airlines executives in Melbourne upon an upcoming visit to Melbourne in September 2022 to assess progress against the opportunities discussed at the meeting.
- Monitor opportunities to further grow passenger flights to Melbourne in subsequent seasons.
- Assess the market response to Singapore; Airlines’ freight partnership with DHL to identify in 3 months if there are opportunities for Melbourne, potentially as part of a strategic initiative with key customers.
- Identify collaboration opportunities with SGInnovate to facilitate their portfolio companies’ expansion into Victoria, potentially through working with LaunchVic on a “startup exchange” initiative, whereby promising startups from Victoria and Singapore participate in a “trade mission” style program in each other’s market.
- Consider introducing an AI component to the Victorian Government’s Digital Jobs Program, including training and internship elements.
- Identify further AI talent opportunities as part of Cremorne Digital Hub initiative.
- Continue discussions with NCID to learn from their COVID-19 response through DJPR’s Innovation and Medical Research team.
Page last updated: 5 October 2022