The Complex Systems Studies (CSS) Pilot Study programme, funded under the Ministry of National Development Research Fund (MNDRF), seeks to support short pilot studies of 6-9 months that explore the application of complexity science methods and concepts to aid in studying the interactions and dynamics of urban systems.

We may support promising completed pilot studies for scaling up subsequently through other research programmes. This initiative also complements the Complex System Studies (CSS) research track under the Cities of Tomorrow (CoT) research programme.

Past Pilot Projects

Poster 1_Vertical Cities
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Vertical Cities Complex Emergent Patterns of Movement and Space Use in High-Density Urban Context
Poster 2_Socio- Spatial Networks
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Singapore’s Network of Socio-Spatial Interactions Inferred through Network Analysis of Mobility Data
Poster 3_Spatial Morphology
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Spatial Morphology of Urban Economy

Requirements of Proposed Pilot Studies

These pilot studies shall aim to provide both new insights on the connections of urban systems, as well as an assessment on the feasibility and suitability of the proposed method(s) and concept(s) to inform urban planning and management as well as related public policy work.

The proposed research topic shall be of public policy relevance in Singapore’s context, and must match one of the sub-topics within the CSS Research Topic Framework, which defines three themes (economic, social and environment) and the three scales.

  Research Topic 1
Study of Economic Structures 
 Research Topic 2
Study of Social Activities and Behaviours
 Research Topic 3 
Study of Environmental Sustainability 
 Research Theme 1 
Urban Structure 
 How Singapore's economic activities are organised (e.g. local and global spatial distribution) How social behaviours and networks shape the formation of communities and social structures  How Singapore optimises environmental resources (e.g. interaction between water and energy systems; environmental resiliences) 
 Research Theme 2
Networks and Flows
 Formation of economic networks (e.g. value chains, industry-firm linkages, talent flows, goods movements, worker catchments etc.) Formation of social networks, including how design of the physical environment influences community ties    Formation of environmental networks 
(e.g. waste, energy management)
 Research Theme 3
Behaviours and Choices
 Behaviours and interactions of relevant entities (e.g. firms, workers etc.) in the formation of the networks and structures Social behaviours of population groups of communities (e.g.daily activities, habits, practices)   Individual/Community-level patterns and behaviours on environmental resource usage 
(e.g. daily habits, education)

The projects shall involve minimally one Singapore-based Principal Investigator (PI) and one co-PI from a Ministry of National Development family agency. Projects having a meaningful cross-domain team and inter-agency collaborations will be preferred.

Project PI(s) shall have participated in at least one Science of Cities scoping workshops organised by CLC and URA or similar platforms.

The proposed pilot study shall cater for an effective way of knowledge creation and learning between the academic and agency team members. The project shall also submit a project report on the findings, including a recommendation on proposed next steps.

Submission of Proposals

Interested parties shall submit proposals to the programme email H2CSS@mnd.gov.sg, and must reach this email before 31 Dec 2021. We will proceed to evaluate proposals that meet all the requirements above upon receipt, and award funding to approved projects. (Note: Qualified proposals submitted earlier will be evaluated earlier than 31 Dec 2021, and approved proposals will also be awarded earlier correspondingly). Proposals must be submitted with the following template:
CSS Pilot Proposal Template DOC 

Researchers are strongly encouraged to engage with agencies on the proposed research scope prior to submitting the completed proposal. The review and approval process for fully qualified proposals may take up to 8-12 weeks.

Funding Quantum, Duration of Project

MNDRF will contribute a funding quantum of up to S$80,000 for each project. The project shall be for a duration of up to 6-9months.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1: The typical grant call spans about 6 – 18 weeks. Is the closing date of the CSS Pilot Funding Programme indeed in Dec 2021?

Ans: Yes, this is a rolling invitation for proposals. While the closing date is 31 March 2021, PIs can submit their proposals anytime before that, and we will start to evaluate the proposal once we receive it.

Q2: Are there specific eligibility criteria (e.g. full-time faculty member, tenured track) for researchers to be the PIs/co-PIs of this pilot funding programme?

Ans: As the pilot funding programme aims to build up a local ecosystem of urban complexity researchers, we welcome any researchers who are based in local institutions and have the relevant expertise in complexity science. The PIs/co-PIs must also have attended the Science of Cities workshops or similar engagement platforms organised by CLC and URA.

Q3: Is there a schedule for upcoming Science of Cities workshops and how can researchers be informed of the workshop?

Ans: There is currently no fixed schedule for upcoming Science of Cities workshop, but the next one is expected to be in 3Q 2020. Researchers who wish to be informed of upcoming workshops can write in to H2CSS@mnd.gov.sg. An invitation will be sent to RIs, IHLs and interested researchers.

Q4: What should I do if I have a research idea or a potential research proposal but have not attended the Science of Cities workshop?

Ans: Researcher may write in to H2CSS@mnd.gov.sg to start the conversation with CLC, URA and relevant agencies so that there can be a mutual understanding of research interests, technical expertise and the urban planning/policies context. Agencies can then work with the researcher to further develop the proposal in preparation for submission. Researcher will need to look out for, and attend, upcoming Science of Cities workshop.

Q5: Does the maximum funding amount of S$80,000 per project include the 20% indirect costs?

Ans: Yes, it does.

Q6: What are the specific fundable and non-fundable items for this funding programme?

Ans: The fundable and non-fundable items will take reference from the latest NRF’s funding guideline.

Q7: Is there a requirement for each proposal to be endorsed by the respective host institution?

Ans: While this is not required by MND, PIs should still adhere to the prevailing institutional processes.

Q8: What is the next step after completing a pilot study?

Ans: PIs will enter further discussion with agencies for completed pilot projects with good potential for scaling up. The exact funding programme for the scaled-up project will be determined through further discussions.

Contact Us

If you have any queries, please contact us at H2CSS@mnd.gov.sg.