The NTU 2025 blueprint describes a whole-of-university framework where researchers from all disciplines and with aspirations spanning curiosity-driven questions to solving pressing technological and societal needs can find a space to contribute. 

NTU 2025 embraces the ‘Knowledge Triangle’ – education, research, and innovation – to enhance organisational resonances within the Colleges, Schools, Institutes, Centres and Programs.  It accommodates advances in science and technology, a rapidly changing socio-economic environment and engages with evolving national needs while maintaining continuity with renewal.

The five teaching NTU colleges and NIE collaboratively identified six interdisciplinary Research Clusters that matches the expertise of their own researchers, provides touchpoints for cross-field engagement, and scaffolding for tactical dialogue across the university. 

Research Clusters

Artificial & Augmented Intelligence will build upon NTU’s established reputation in AI research and its strong engineering eco-system surrounded by many corporate laboratories to strengthen its contributions in the field.  A large and self-contained campus provides an ideal testbed for the development of AI systems such as those deployed on autonomous vehicles (AVs) where an extensive network of cameras and sensors allows the controlled and safe deployment. The Smart Campus Initiative is a place for teaching, learning, working, and living and presents opportunities for testing related AI technology.

Through the Singapore Smart Nation Initiative NTU’s close relationships with government agencies allows scope for AI systems transfer to factories, airports, roadways, tunnels, energy, waste disposal, and so on.  The Singapore pragmatic approach to regulate data protection allows testing of AI systems alongside the creating of effective regulations.  Public-private sector partnerships in AI gives NTU a natural advantage, as many advances in AI are developed in industrial and commercial contexts and deliver impactful and real-world applications of AI across a variety of fields such as aerospace, manufacturing, material science and chemical engineering.  “AI for X” research such as AI for an ageing society, AI for transport, AI for well-being, or AI for smart cities is a rapidly developing field encompassing humanitarian and environmental challenges.

Resilient Urbanisation & Natural Ecosystems consolidates NTU’s unprecedented bandwidth of expertise and capacity for stakeholders, and place Singapore at the forefront of sustainability research and development.  This research cluster further strengthens cross-disciplinary interactions, connect STEM with non-STEM, and deliver broad-based innovation.  

Major scientific opportunities involve climate change science, tropical natural and urban ecosystem ecology, human health and disease, and urban environments and behavioural economics.  Major initiatives will be the creation of a campus energy-water nexus prototype; building resilient, sustainable and smart cities to address and mitigate the effects of climate change; integrating science/engineering for environmental management (atmosphere, hydrosphere and terrestrial); and establishing expertise for environmental and geological hazard and risk management to increase the safety of people and infrastructure.  Further, it will strengthen existing links with government agencies and create new opportunities with industry, including business strategy and leadership.  

In addition, this cluster will deliver a strong platform for education and training to meet an emerging need for regional-level multidisciplinary scientists and other professionals across Asia, to tackle and manage sustainability challenges.  An NTU-NIE collaboration will develop a core-curriculum to lay a solid foundation for including sustainability in advanced education and degree programs, for broad-based life-long learning, as well as preparing future sustainability leaders.

Brain and Learning foresee exceptional research and educational opportunities at the intersection of the neuroscience, cognitive science, and science-of-learning fields.  This research cluster will promote campus-wide neuroscientific research and integrate such research into education. A science-based understanding of the effectiveness of educational methods will aid the development of new strategies that lead to interventions that maximize the potential of every learner.  

The goal is to leverage and merge the unique mix of strengths in neuroscience, cognitive science, psychology, biological sciences, computer science, design science and engineering with education to optimize optimal health states (physical, intellectual, socioemotional, moral) across the lifespan, from early childhood to older adulthood, moving from stages of growth to mitigation, prevention and repair.  

This endeavour will include rigorous and broad scientific investigation and understanding of learning that is translatable to effective pedagogy and andragogy; authentic contexts for designing and implementing translational applications of science-of-learning; and cutting-edge research methods at the intersections of multi-disciplinary collaborations and rapid technological advancements (such as neuroscience and artificial intelligence). Deliverables will include interventions for education, learning, health and well-being; creation of better tools to capture data related to learning and healthy well-being; and more efficient methods to assess large-scale data for optimising human learning for use in research and policy.

Health & Society will address the demographic changes in Singapore from the perspectives of Medtech and drug development, population health and community wellness.  In 2014, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) ranked Singapore second in the world for healthcare outcomes, while the World Health Organisation ranked Singapore’s healthcare system as the fourth-best globally in 2017.  However, with rising life expectancy and falling birth rates come to the challenge of an ageing population. 

Increased longevity in Singapore will translate into higher demand for healthcare services, medicines and elderly care. Furthermore, as a global hub, Singapore is vulnerable to the importation of infectious diseases, and social norms and cultural practices are the first line of defence, rather than border restrictions.  

Singaporeans are living on average 10 years of their lives in ill health. In response, this Cluster will coordinate resources towards holistic approaches to human health, drawing on expertise in humanities, social sciences, economics, engineering, and medical science. This interdisciplinary approach drives innovations in healthcare, breakthroughs in disease detection and treatments, and effective social and cultural interventions that guide Singaporeans towards healthy ageing and prevent the spread of infectious diseases. 

Future of Industry will contribute to maintaining Singapore’s high global ranking in terms of its ability to exploit the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).  Although Singapore enjoys the first-mover advantage, there are significant challenges ahead in effectively and continually pushing the frontiers and transforming.

Creating impact from cutting-edge technologies requires closing the gulf between advancing cutting-edge technologies and ensuring their adoption, to harness improved efficiencies and spur innovation and growth.  NTU’s technological base, coupled with the excellent reputation of the business, humanities and social sciences colleges, together with various industrial sectors relationships, can radically transform research and education.  In this manner, the NTU 2025 plan will address cross-disciplinary questions such as ensuring technology optimally augments humans in their work and lives, integrating business model development with technology commercialization, and deploying technologies that are socially responsible.

This Cluster will support domains in emerging 4IR technologies expected to have a great impact. First, Singapore aims to leverage advanced technologies to improve trade and manufacturing, for continuous economic growth and to prepare our economy for the future. Second, there are significant opportunities to develop and leverage Singapore’s digital innovation capabilities to improve productivity, transform the services sector, and create a vibrant digital economy and transition into Services 4.0 economy.  Third, with Singapore’s ambition to build a smart nation, NTU has can contribute significantly to building the latest digital economies that improve liveability in a sustainable manner by using integrated solutions.

Culture, Organisations & Society recognises the enormous importance of cultural forms, of the arts, of the richness of our linguistic inheritances, and of the fundamental importance of philosophical thinking to all other value systems. This is reflected in the myriad ways that modern, developed societies invest in culture and linguistic-based research through their education systems. 

While NTU’s well-established centres of research excellence already make a major contribution in these areas to Singapore and beyond, it will certainly do even more in the coming years. Singapore’s commitment to maintaining a sophisticated and informed sense of its complex religious and racial landscape is deeply connected to the principle of respect for all traditions in the country, even while establishing a Singapore identity. These efforts are closely intertwined with the preservation of the country’s unique cultural identity – itself deeply connected to linguistic and artistic heritage.  

Singapore’s current aspirations extend far beyond financial and technological achievement. Our aspirations must match those of the nation, and we need to be similarly creative in our attitude to the generation of knowledge across all disciplines.