A Tale of Two Cities
Rarely do you see an entire town or nation state advancing the paradigm. But there are two such places that recently popped up on the radar. These two locations definitely warrant closer inspections. One is half way around the world, and the other is right here in
Wired recently featured a story on developments in Singapore. In many places around the world, including the United States, investors are trepidacious when it comes to biotech research. Political climates, poor return on investment, and lack of understanding have made funding groundbreaking biotech research an unpopular enterprise. But while the rest of the world plays it safe, Singapore is grabbing the bull by the horns.
Until recently Singapore has probably been best known in the media for it’s harsh legal system. But the city state has come into the public eye recently for it’s determined involvement in biotech research. Singapore has put more than 2 billion dollars into research. And they have recently built a 300 million dollar dream facility called Biopolis. Featuring state of the art technology, 2 million square feet of floor space, and all the comforts of home, Biopolis is the research center of the future.
Singapore is not only providing a location for researchers, but also funding for projects that are too ambitious to succeed elsewhere. They have already recruited more than 4000 researchers from all over the world. With the budget of an entire nation state, and the willingness to fund projects that other investors simply refuse to, we may soon see some very fundamental breakthroughs in biotech from a country that was formerly best known for it’s canings.
Singapore has already recently reported on a new potential gene based cure for asthma, as well as a new procedure to safely preserve human stem cells. Singapore may very quickly become the new biotech capital of the world. Bio-conservative countries like the United States may soon sit up and take notice, when a stream of cures and treatments come trickling out of the small determined island south of Malaysia. And perhaps, that is just the wake up call we’ll need to get our own biotech fields moving again. It is said, “He who dares, wins” . And Singapore is daring to do what the rest of the world will not.
The other city I want to draw your attention to is Grand Haven, Michigan. Grand Haven is the first city in the United States to have complete wireless internet coverage. Every square inch of the city, and 15 miles off of it’s coast now have WiFi coverage and broadband access. Eventually as the technology gets cheap enough, and the demand high enough, WiFi cities will be the norm instead of the exception. But for now, not only is Grand Haven leading the way, they are the only city to accomplish it.
A WiFi city opens up new possibilities for information access, computer integration, and communication. Google is only a keystroke away from anywhere in Grand Haven. Every business can now provide internet access to their every customer. Stepping stones like this take us one step closer to future technologies like Augmented Reality. In the mean time, city wide WiFi supports new opportunities in education, business and entertainment. I’m happy to say that of all the high tech metropolises in this country, the first place to step up and get this done is a small unassuming city in my home state of Michigan. Kudos, Grand Haven!
The axis of the earth sticks out visibly through the centre of each and every town or city. -Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
More to come…