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Speech by SMS Chee Hong Tat at the Official Opening of Alchemy Foodtech's Cook Lab

Speech by SMS Chee Hong Tat at the Official Opening of Alchemy Foodtech's Cook Lab

Mr Alan Phua, CEO and Co-Founder, Alchemy Foodtech,

Ms Verleen Goh, CTO and Co-Founder, Alchemy Foodtech, 

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. Good afternoon. I am delighted to join you today on this happy occasion for the official opening of home-grown startup Alchemy Foodtech’s new lab. I am very happy that Alchemy Foodtech has achieved much since its founding four years ago, and the opening of Cook Lab @ Alchemy today is an encouraging development that I hope will enable Alchemy Foodtech and their partners to scale even greater heights and continue to do Singapore proud. 

2. In Asia, there is a growing concern that more people are suffering from diabetes, especially with an ageing population. Food is one of the areas that can help us to combat this terrible disease. The focus on food technology and food innovation is an area where Singapore has some strengths. Similar to what we have done for hi-tech startups with Block 71 Launchpad, I hope there will be an ecosystem for us to support food technology. 

3. We can consolidate our strength in research and development (R&D) by bringing together agencies such as the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), universities and research laboratories, as well as food manufacturers and food companies. An important strength we have that is not easily replicable is the trusted Singapore brand. Our brand name represents quality assurance, trustworthiness, and safety. 

4. I am also very heartened to learn that Alchemy Foodtech is working with different partners including NUS Enterprise, government agencies, and other industry players. Strategic partnerships and collaboration are especially important, as each organisation has different strengths. In fact, we promote collaborations through Enterprise Singapore (ESG) and other government agencies. Apart from bringing SMEs together, we also need to encourage MNCs to partner our local companies to scale up, innovate, and seek new opportunities, be it in Singapore or abroad. 

5. I am hopeful that the partnership we are seeing today is just the beginning of something bigger. I am confident that Alchemy Foodtech’s achievements in the past few years will provide Alan and Verleen with a good foundation to take the company to even greater heights in the near future.

6. As we celebrate the success stories today, we are also aware that there are many more startups that have not succeeded. This is part and parcel of a thriving ecosystem. Not every startup will succeed – but we know that the chances of success will be zero if we are risk-averse, and if we do not invest in those with good potential. If we try, some of the startups that do succeed will be able to move the needle and create many opportunities for others. 

7. Our approach towards entrepreneurship and innovation is driven by a risk-taking spirit. We have to be prepared to take calculated risks and accept some failure along the way. We will continue to work closely with our trade associations, companies, universities and research laboratories to create an environment where ideas, capital and talent connect to create something good that can potentially solve a problem we are trying to tackle in Singapore. Eventually, this may also be exported overseas. This can create new opportunities for Singapore companies and workers. 

8. The Government is also committed to helping our enterprises grow by providing a business-friendly environment. The Pro-Enterprise Panel (PEP), which is chaired by the Head of the Civil Service, works with businesses and public sector agencies to review Government rules and regulations. This is an important conduit towards facilitating innovative business models and practices adopted by our companies, which often necessitate new ways of regulation. 

9. Let me share an example. Fruitopia, a company which had wanted to sell their ‘pull tab ready-to-eat coconuts’ from Thailand in Singapore, approached the PEP for assistance. The PEP subsequently worked with the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) to review this case. After the food safety assessment by AVA, including doing the necessary lab testing, Fruitopia was able to launch its EzyPop Premium Coconut in the Singapore market. The company is appreciative of the efforts by AVA and the PEP to facilitate the regulatory clearance to bring in a new product. We need regulations to keep us safe.  At the same time, we must ensure that our rules and regulations are pro-business and will support innovation and new ideas. We welcome companies with novel food ideas to approach MTI-PEP or AVA for assistance. 

10. My heartiest congratulations to Verleen and Alan, and your team at Alchemy Foodtech on the opening of your new lab today, and for what you have achieved so far. Please keep up the good work and continue to innovate, push the boundaries and like the Enterprise in Star Trek, to boldly go where no man has gone before.  

11. Thank you and have a pleasant afternoon ahead.
 
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