ASEAN – UK Regional Training and Workshop on Engineering Biology

SINGAPORE, 20 March 2024 – The ASEAN-UK Regional Training and Workshop on Engineering Biology was successfully held at the British High Commission in Singapore from 26 February to 1 March 2024. Funded by the UK Department of Science, Innovation, and Technology, the event marks a key initiative under the UK-ASEAN Action Plan for mutual advancement in science and technology.

Dr Zurina Moktar, Head, Division of Science and Technology, The ASEAN Secretariat, said, ” Deepening the ASEAN-UK Dialogue Partnership and aligning priorities across political, security, economic, and global spheres signify a remarkable collaboration. UK is an excellent partner for cooperation on Engineering Biology, in view of the country’s science, technology, and innovation leadership built on decades of bold discoveries, technological, and innovative breakthroughs.”

British High Commissioner to Singapore, Kara Owen, said, Engineering biology has the potential to transform our economies and our societies.  The UK research community is already exploring how engineering biology can be used to conquer emerging health threats, food insecurity and climate change. International collaboration will accelerate our success in driving economic growth, navigating emerging risks, and realising the maximum potential of the technology.

This workshop demonstrates how the UK continues to deepen our science and technology cooperation with ASEAN, and with Singapore under the UK-Singapore Strategic Partnership, on the technologies of tomorrow..”

UK Ambassador to ASEAN Sarah Tiffin said, “As a committed ASEAN Dialogue Partner, we are very pleased to have worked with ASEAN on this successful workshop, one of many activities through which we are delivering the ASEAN-UK Plan of Action.  More widely, we are delighted that our first formal ASEAN-UK dialogue is on Science Technology and Innovation. STI is essential to addressing the challenges of our time and building a more sustainable and prosperous future for all. Our dialogue and partnership with ASEAN will drive progress and enrich our cooperation in this vital field.”

Previously highlighted at the ASEAN-UK Dialogue on Science, Technology, and Innovation in Bohol, Philippines, on 20 October 2023, Engineering Biology is recognised by the UK as a transformative technology. It encompasses the creation and commercialisation of biological products and services, with the potential to revolutionise various industries and enhance sustainability.

HE Kara Owen CMG, British High Commissioner to Singapore, welcomed ASEAN government officials and representatives from The ASEAN Secretariat to her residence, Eden Hall, for an evening reception after the first day of the ASEAN-UK Regional Training and Workshop on Engineering Biology. The night featured an Opening Address by Dr Kanchana Wanichkorn, Director of Sectoral Development, The ASEAN Secretariat.

The workshop brought together 12 British and seven Singaporean specialists from diverse sectors to exchange expertise in Engineering Biology. Over 25 attendees, including ASEAN Secretariat members and representatives from all ten ASEAN nations, participated in the event.

The agenda featured state-of-the-art Engineering Biology research, economic development strategies, and its practical applications across health, agriculture, food security, and climate change. The programme included sessions on:

The Fundamentals on Engineering Biology
Policy and regulatory considerations
Bioeconomy standards and success factors
The influence of Engineering Biology on nutrition and food security
Engineering Biology’s role in climate change mitigation

The workshop emphasised the significance of proper regulations and standards, providing ASEAN officials with a comprehensive understanding of Engineering Biology’s capacity to tackle global challenges.

UK experts shared valuable insights on ecosystem facilitators and commercialisation, highlighting Engineering Biology’s economic potential and its solutions for global issues. This led to a collective commitment from participants to promote Engineering Biology in their home countries.

Country delegates presented updates on Engineering Biology and biotechnology within their regions, with a focus on agricultural research, product enhancement, crop resilience, and production. Notably, some countries are pioneering genetic engineering to improve medical supply independence.

The event encouraged dialogue and set the stage for future UK-ASEAN collaborations in science and technology.

This workshop reaffirms the UK’s dedication to deepening its scientific and technological ties with ASEAN, building on the strong foundation established since becoming an ASEAN dialogue partner.