Singapore as a gateway to more research expertise

Doctoral candidate Stefan Papastefanou about his experience as a visiting scholar at the Singapore Management University

In 2019, Stefan Papastefanou was one of only four applicants to be accepted into the 2019/2020 program of the Applied Research Centre for Intellectual Assets and the Law in Asia (ARCIALA) of the Singapore Management University (SMU) and spent six months in Singapore.

Stefan, congratulations on winning the ARCIALA scholarship. That must have been a significant advantage during your stay abroad.

Stefan: "Yes, indeed. The ARCIALA program is rivaled in its generosity only by its excellence. It provided me with unprecedented academic and financial freedom. Therefore, the circumstances were ideal to develop myself personally as well as academically. The position as a visiting scholar also signified that I was not bound by a specific research project but enabled me to pursue any meaningful project which was of personal interest to me.“

That sounds like a wonderful experience. So what did you think of Singapore?

Stefan: "Getting to know Singapore is an astonishing experience that can only be witnessed in a meaningful way if you are financially and personally independent. However, since the position as a visiting scholar is an employment, you have to undergo strict medical testing and a rigorous visa process before you can officially start. Add that to the demanding application process where you compete against excellent scholars from all over the world and it becomes a challenging endeavor. Yet, unlocking the wonders and beauty of Singapore from an academic perspective is more than worth it. Even more so because Singapore is a gateway to Asia in general and by being associated with the ARCIALA you are able to explore Asia academically as well.”

That sounds intriguing. In what way were you able to explore Asia academically?

Stefan: "The head of the department and the program Prof. Dr. Kung-Chung Liu is extremely well connected and will move heaven and earth to get you in touch with researchers all over Asia. Through his connections and guidance, I was able to participate in events all over the continent: I attended a workshop on the moral restrictions in Taiwanese patent law in Taipeh (special thanks to Professor Dr. Su-Hua Lee from the NTU), a conference on artificial intelligence and IP in Hong Kong, a workshop on patentability of advanced biotechnology in China and a networking conference in Indonesia.“

You obviously benefited immensely from your time abroad. What will be the most important aspect that you will take away from this?

Stefan: “It is safe to say that the position as a visiting scholar was of immense help in advancing my academic and personal skill set. Most importantly, I have met extraordinary minds from all over the world and I am glad and thankful that I have the opportunity to further our relationships beyond the brief stay in Singapore. In that context I am also utterly grateful that I am going to stay connected to the SMU as an external research fellow.”