Tiny but mighty: New Zealand eyes climate and health tech partnerships in Singapore

By Si Ying Thian

As small but advanced economies, Singapore and New Zealand are ‘natural partners’ to address common challenges in achieving climate ambitions and preventive health interventions, says Maggie Christie from the New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.

New Zealand's Prime Minister Christopher Luxon and Singapore's Minister for National Development Desmond Lee at the New Zealand Gala Dinner in Singapore. Image: New Zealand Trade and Enterprise's LinkedIn.

New Zealand companies see Singapore as a springboard into Southeast Asia, and are increasingly looking to tap into opportunities around clean technology, health technology, and financial technology in Singapore. 


Today, Singapore is the country’s fourth largest trade partner – the largest in Southeast Asia – with NZ$10.3 billion (US$6.1 billion) worth of bilateral trade recorded in December 2023, according to the International Trade Data.


Maggie Christie, Trade Commissioner to Singapore at New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE), tells GovInsider that the agency is looking to better align New Zealand innovations with Singapore’s economy. 


NZTE Singapore represents the NZ government in helping local companies export to Singapore and enhancing the trade synergy between the two countries through public-private partnerships. 

A focus on cleantech, fintech and healthtech 


Opportunities are brewing in the abovementioned sectors in Singapore due to an increasing emphasis on meeting climate targets and preventive healthcare, says Christie. 


Singapore has set a national climate target to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. A heightened focus on meeting these targets has led to specific efforts to decarbonise the manufacturing sector and other industries, she explains. 

NZ Trade Commissioner to Singapore Maggie Christie shares that there are opportunities for NZ companies in Singapore's cleantech, fintech and healthtech sectors. Image: Maggie Christie. 

Some partnerships are already underway. For example, NZ-based CarbonClick partnered with Changi Airport Group last year to help travellers calculate their carbon emissions based on the flight details on Changi Airport’s website or mobile app. 

Christie adds that there is a growing demand for sustainable finance in Singapore. The consensus around Singapore’s good fit for sustainable finance was shared by a global conservation organisation, GovInsider previously reported. 


The rollout of Healthier SG, a national strategy focusing on preventive health and early interventions, also presents opportunities for NZ healthtech companies, says Christie, as data-driven healthcare is at the core of this strategy.   


SingHealth, one of Singapore’s three public health clusters, has partnered with NZ healthtech company The Clinician to better facilitate digitally enabled care pathways between doctors and patients through data management and access. 


This helps improve communication between doctors and patients, subsequently improving patient outcomes and experiences, says Christie. 


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NZ and Singapore’s longstanding relationship 


NZ and Singapore share a longstanding relationship – of almost 60 years – and it is still being reinforced, Christie adds. 


The countries upgraded their bilateral relations in 2019 with an Enhanced Partnership (EP).  


Since then, the governments have added a “Climate Change and Green Economy” pillar in 2019, and a “Supply Chains and Connectivity” pillar in April this year.  There are now six pillars to this partnership. 


By virtue of both countries being small, advanced economies, they are “natural partners” when it comes to addressing common challenges, such as climate change, technology and innovation, food, energy, and wider security interests, says Christie. 

Singapore was NZ Prime Minister Christopher Luxon's first stop in Southeast Asia, followed by Thailand and the Philippines. Source: 
New Zealand Trade and Enterprise's LinkedIn.

“Both countries view this partnership as a chance to serve as testing grounds for each other’s products and services, leveraging our size and geographical proximity. 


“Strategically positioned as a regional hub for science and innovation, and the third leading financial centre in the world, Singapore provides access to a diverse range of products and services for the region and internationally.” 


Therefore, Singapore’s positioning presents NZ companies to introduce or co-develop innovations with Singaporean entities, she adds. 


There are plans to “elevate the EP and explore more forward-looking initiatives” by the 60th anniversary in 2025, which were announced during NZ Prime Minister Christopher Luxon’s recent visit to Singapore this month. 

Building more and closer public-private partnerships is key 


What has been key to aligning NZ innovations with the needs of the Singapore’s economy has been the close relationships NZTE shares with trade and investment agencies and industry associations in Singapore. 


Some of NZTE's partners include Enterprise Singapore, Singapore’s Economic Development Board, Singapore FinTech Association, Asia Pacific Medical Technology Association, and more. 


“NZ and Singapore are mutually focused on a partnership-oriented approach, where the countries collaborate in areas of innovation and new solutions, knowledge sharing, and adopting best practices across different industries to address global challenges together,” Christie explains. 

Foodbowl New Zealand facility in Auckland. Image: New Zealand Food Innovation Network. 

She shares that a supply chain working group has been established between NZ and Singapore to identify opportunities for collaboration to ensure sustainable and digitally enhanced supply chains for improved food security. 


For example, FoodBowl New Zealand is a food innovation facility formed through a partnership between the Singapore Institute of Technology and Singapore-based FoodPlant – a testbed facility for new food products.  


"FoodBowl is expanding in Asia, and this allows the companies to test, learn, and commercialise, ultimately ensuring food quality, supply, and safety standards are met,” Christie reveals.


When it comes to capacity building, NZ companies keen to expand to Singapore can tap on NZTE’s pool of connections and technical expertise. Aside from the abovementioned sectors, other key sectors include food technology and educational technology. 


“We take a two-pronged approach: First, understand the offers and challenges faced by NZ companies in their export journey. 


“Second, through our Singapore market know-how and know-who, we tap into our connections and market insights to coach and guide these companies to make better decisions and connect with the right partners, supporting them with high-value growth opportunities in Singapore.” 


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