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Invited by King Willem-Alexander, Halimah Yacob, the president of Singapore, paid a state visit to the Netherlands over the last few days. In addition to the usual visits to Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague, she visited the Brainport region yesterday in the presence of a Singapore business delegation. This was done to further strengthen trade relations between companies from the Brainport region and the Asian country. She was received by the commissioner of the king and Mona Keijzer, State Secretary for Economic Affairs and Climate.

The visit, which took place yesterday at the High Tech Campus, confirms the good and close bilateral ties between the Netherlands and Singapore. It is in line with the ‘pre-presidential visit’ that took place last week at the Brainport Industries Campus. At that time, a delegation, led by a Singapore minister, already exchanged knowledge and experiences with various Eindhoven chairmen such as John Blankendaal, Bert-Jan Woertman and Nienke Meijer. They spoke about various subjects such as ‘smart societies’, ‘eco-system development’ and the increasingly popular phenomenon of ‘life long learning’.

Yesterday, however, the delegation discussed something completely different; during the visit to the heart of the Brainport, the so-called ‘triple helix’ approach was given particular attention. “This approach means that a fertile collaboration takes place between the business community, local authorities and knowledge institutions in the field of innovation”, says Annemiek Bles of Brainport Development. The president also attended a meeting and visited a mini-expo about companies that focus on mobility, health and sustainability.

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The visit of the President, who took office in September, also offers an opportunity to broaden and deepen cooperation in the field of economics and innovation. Singapore is an important partner for the Netherlands in the Asian region; more than 1600 Dutch companies are based there.

“Our two countries are more than ten thousand kilometres apart, but despite this enormous physical distance, we have many things in common. We also have a common interest in building a well-functioning innovation ecosystem,” says Singaporean parliamentarian Tan Wu Meng. “Singapore welcomes Dutch start-ups and companies to work with us,” he continued.

Not only the Singaporean delegation but also State Secretary Mona Keijzer has a positive view of the revamped partnerships: “Our two countries are at the top of the list of the most innovative economies in the world. I look forward to taking the lead with you”, she told the Singapore delegation. Keijzer continues: “But we will not automatically keep that position. Being ahead means that we have to keep going. That is why I am proud that our two countries signed a memorandum of understanding on innovation and the economy yesterday. It will form a solid basis for even closer cooperation between Singapore and the Netherlands in the future.”