About Young Inventors' Award

Tan Kah Kee Young Inventors' Award (TKKYIA) was first mooted by Nobel Laureate Professor C.N. Yang in May 1986. Professor Yang, who is Tan Kah Kee Foundation's advisor and mentor, observed that Asian students including Singapore students were good at learning but lacked originality in scientific research. He thus proposed an award for invention that would encourage people to think and to invent things that would bring economic benefit to the country.

There are five sections that cater to different interests and levels of inventors - namely:

  • Junior Student
  • Student
  • Senior Student
  • Open
  • Defence Science

The Junior and Senior Student sections were set up with effect from TKKYIA2008 and TKKYIA2009 respectively to encourage more participation from students of different age groups.

The award seeks to stimulate creativity among the young generation and to promote scientific and technological research in Singapore. By organising the Tan Kah Kee Young Inventors' Award as an annual event, the Award Committee aims to achieve the following goals:

  • to encourage our youths to use their knowledge and skills imaginatively and with daring innovation;
  • to stimulate creativity among our youths and promote scientific and technological research in the country;
  • to contribute to our talent pool;
  • to inspire our youths to constantly think of new and creative ways of solving problems;
  • to inculcate in our youths an innovative approach to their studies and life.

In the initial years, Tan Kah Kee Young Inventors' Award organized the Open section and the Student section in alternate years. In 1995, the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), known as NSTB then, joined in as a partner and with this support, the Award began to hold both the Open and the Student sections annually from 1996.

In 2001, the Defence Science & Technology Agency (DSTA) participated as a co-organiser and established the special Defence Science section. The Defence Science section aims to promote greater interest in defence science and technology among Singapore's youth, and to raise their awareness the importance of harnessing science and technology to enhance Singapore's defence and security. DSO National Laboratories joined in the collaboration with effect from TKKYIA2011 to further strength the support for the Defence Science section.

For the past few years, Singapore Science Centre has been continuously supporting the event by hosting the exhibition of the winning projects.

In 2002, the foundation launched the Tan Kah Kee Young Inventors' Award (Shanghai). This was a great opportunity for the Tan Kah Kee Foundation to extend our collaboration into the region with the major universities in Shanghai. The participants include students and staff from both universities and high schools in Shanghai.

Behind the scenes of the Tan Kah Kee Young Inventors' Awards are a group of committee members consisting of representatives from A*STAR, DSTA, Singapore Science Centre, and voluntary professionals from academia institutions, R&D organizations and industry practitioners. They are actively involved in organizing the Award as well as providing their expertise in the evaluation of the invention projects. The Tan Kah Kee Young Inventors' Award Committee is spearheaded by Professor Phua Kok Khoo, Chairman of the Tan Kah Kee Foundation, with Dr Low Hwee Boon, former Principal Scientist of the Institute of Infocomm Research as the co-chairman.

Message by Chairman (Prof Phua Kok Khoo)

Launched in 1986, the Tan Kah Kee Young Inventors' Award is perhaps the first annual award given for creativity and innovation in Singapore. It was initiated by Nobel Laureate, Professor C N Yang, who proposed having this Young Inventors' Award for the purpose of encouraging students and young people to be more involved in creativity and invention. They should not just try to achieve good results in their school examinations.

We believe that the Award has effectively contributed to the development of an innovative and inventive culture in Singapore. It is an excellent platform for young people to showcase their thinking skills and to gain first-hand experience in applying principles of science and technology to real-life problems. We are pleased that the Award is now quite established and the competition has been gaining much momentum with increasing number of projects submitted each year.

Besides the student section and open section, a new category of the Award - Defense Science Award was established in 2001. This marked our first collaboration with the Defense Science & Technology Agency (DSTA), apart from the Agency for Science, Technology & Research (A*Star) who has been our co-organizer since 1995.

The Foundation also successfully launched the Tan Kah Kee Young Inventors' Award in Shanghai in 2002, as a regional collaboration with Shanghai University, Fudan University and Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

As all of you are aware, to promote creativity and innovation is not easy, yet it is important to introduce new ideas and approaches. We believe that it is the right time for Singapore to review the efforts and approaches we should adopt in encouraging creativity and innovation. Hence, our committee would also like to organize workshops and seminars to identify and review different approaches to creativity and innovation for our award, and hopefully to discover new ways to upgrade and improve our activities.

Management Committee

ChairmanProf Phua Kok Khoo
Co-ChairmanDr Low Hwee Boon
Chief JudgeMr Lim Yeow Khee
Committee MembersAssoc Prof Kwek Leong Chuan
Prof Lim Hock
Prof Wong Lim Soon
Assoc Prof Lim Tit Meng
Ms Kamaria Bte A. Ghani
Prof Ong Choon Name
Mr Alex Tang
Mr Lim Poh Seng
Ms Ang Ee Luang
Ms Wong Kuan Meng
Mr Sin Kim Ho