Five levels of shops and restaurants, serviced apartments, fitness facilities, a rooftop swimming pool, thirteen sky gardens and an experimental theatre. Welcome to the world of Fusionopolis – Singapore's new science, technology and media powerhouse!

Five years after the opening of Biopolis (Singapore), a R&D hub dedicated to biomedical research activities, Singapore opened on October 17th 2008 the futuristic Fusionopolis, the country's latest icon for research in interactive media, physical sciences, engineering and technology. This new venture will foster cutting-edge research to establish the next-generation technologies and inspire the world's future lifestyles. The scientists living in this complex will create new possibilities that might transform the way we work, play, live and learn.

Can you imagine an entire community driven by a common interest and passion for science and technology? Can you imagine what this synergy and unique melding of skills could lead to? We have come a long way in popularising science and bringing its importance closer to the general public. Now we take a step further and see 800 talented scientists, engineers and game developers, up to 2400 of them by 2012, working under one roof. Such a “think tank” promises to deliver fantastic ideas and fundamentally innovative ways of approaching some of today's global issues.

Within the next three years, as completion of phase 2 takes place, 6 research institutes will have moved into Fusionopolis, joined by at least 13 corporate laboratories amongst which are Vesta's, the world's leading wind turbine company, Ubisoft, one of Europe's largest game publisher, and Nitto Denko, a premier electronics and advanced materials company. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will also open its first overseas research centre at Fusionopolis.

After several years spent as an academic researcher, navigating between geology and geophysics, I strongly believe that multidisciplinarity is the key. The key to increase our knowledge and understanding of our world and society. The key to achieve breakthroughs in the challenges confronting society today. By mixing different interests and backgrounds and by creating an environment that fosters a collaborative effort among the private and public research community, Fusionopolis is aimed at breaking down the barriers and allowing multidisciplinary teams to flourish.

We should all take the vision of this venture and apply it to building stronger and more cohesive relationships with both academia and industry, learning how we can all play a role in solving some of the problems we face in materials science. Lets watch how Fusionopolis develops and hope it will trigger similar initiatives in other parts of the world!

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DOI: 10.1016/S1369-7021(08)70225-6