The current NUSDeltares alliance emanated from the Singapore Delft Water Alliance (SDWA); a six-year research program (2007-2012) on water and environment, that trained numerous water experts in and for Singapore.
How it started
Stemming from Singapore’s wish to become a Global Water hub, a memorandum of understanding was signed in 2006 between Singapore’s National Water Agency (PUB), the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Deltares (then WL | Delft Hydraulics) to create a centre of excellence for water knowledge at NUS. This MoU led in 2007 to the creation of the Singapore Delft Water Alliance (SDWA). In addition to the contributions of NUS, Deltares and PUB, SDWA was co-funded by the National Research Foundation of Singapore (through the Environment and Water Industry Program EWI) and by the Economic Development Board (through the Innovation Development Scheme IDS).
Research and Education
SDWA sparked high level knowledge cooperation through high-impact, userinspired
research in eight major strategically selected research programmes in the fields of fresh water management, management of natural resources in coastal and marine environments, peatland management, and operational hydrodynamic – and water quality forecasting. In addition to this research, SDWA developed several educational activities, such as a portfolio of professional development courses for engineers, and a graduate programme in the form of a Double M.Sc. Degree Program in Hydraulic Engineering and Water Resources Management established in collaboration between National University Singapore and Technical University Delft.
The SDWA network
SDWA staff consisted of post-doctoral researchers, PhD students, research engineers, and a small administrative team. In addition to these, SDWA tapped into a large complex of externalities, primarily in form of networks of specialists from PUB, NUS academics, Deltares advisors, as well as researchers, students and specialists from several collaborating organisations.
SDWA was successful: it trained about 130 postgraduate students (including Masters and PhDs); produced about 300 scientific papers; delivered executive training for professional engineers in 19 short courses with 493 participants; secured substantial external funding and nearly 40 joint R&D projects with public and private sector partners; and established the Aquatic Sciences Centre at Ulu Pandan (now called the Van Kleef Centre).
Continuation of collaboration
From the very outset it was anticipated and expected that after the initial EWI funding, SDWA would evolve into a (partially) self-sustained organization for water-related research and specialized consultancy.
In 2012, NUS and Deltares agreed to build upon the success of SDWA to take their partnership to a new level. They jointly established a new Alliance called NUSDeltares to pursue high-impact contract research and specialised consultancy services in urban water management, adaptation to climate change, high density living, and operational management systems. Doing so, the knowledge gained during SDWA could be extended and would remain available for the Singapore Ministries, Agencies and other stakeholders. Moreover, also a regional outreach was envisioned. For this purpose, the Economic Development Board (EDB) provided some financial support to NUSDeltares between 2012 and 2017, for the export of knowledge to neighboring countries.