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Speech by SMS Koh Poh Koon at the Opening of Cargill Innovation Centre Singapore

Speech by SMS Koh Poh Koon at the Opening of Cargill Innovation Centre Singapore

Introduction

1.  It is a pleasure to join you here for the official opening of the Cargill Innovation Centre in Singapore. The Centre is testament to Cargill’s strong and long-lasting commitment to Singapore since the establishment of its Asia-Pacific hub in 1981. With today’s opening of the Innovation Centre, we hope that this will continue to take the collaboration one step further and grow Cargill’s presence beyond Singapore. 

Asia’s evolving food and nutrition needs 

2. By 2030, Asia will be home to more than half of the world’s population. Demographic advantages here in Asia such as a young population, a growing middle class, as well as a broader awareness of the need to maintain good health will contribute to increased demand for higher-quality and healthier food products. Asia also encompasses a myriad of nations, races, and cuisines, which means that the taste profiles of consumers vary widely across the continent and even within countries. 

3. In order to stay ahead, businesses will have to develop products that are tailored to the evolving needs and preferences of Asian consumers. Singapore, with its extensive regional connectivity, strong research base, clustering of innovation activities and an ecosystem of MNCs and SMEs, is well positioned for companies such as Cargill to harness the growth opportunities in Asia.

Leveraging Singapore’s innovation ecosystem to meet Asia’s demand for food and nutrition    
 
4. Singapore is a financial and trading hub due to our central geographic location, robust infrastructure, strong rule of law and stable environment. This allows companies to use Singapore as a springboard to Southeast Asia and the rest of the world. As companies establish operations here, other players and service providers have also followed suit, creating an ecosystem in which business can be carried out easily and conveniently, with upstream and downstream companies, suppliers and customers gathered here. 

5. This ecosystem is further boosted by the Singapore government’s commitment to promote innovation, through which talent, resources and companies come together to innovate solutions and products, and deploy them across Asia to reach the kitchens and the plates of the consumers. For example, there is strong public-private sector collaboration where companies and public agencies such as Enterprise Singapore and the Economic Development Board help to foster innovation amidst the rapid advancement of technologies, in turn strengthening the growth and competitiveness of our companies.   

6. One of these partnerships within the agri-commodity and food sector is FoodInnovate. Launched in April last year, FoodInnovate involves several agencies, and aims to promote food innovation by helping local food businesses tap on the resources and facilities of larger companies. This provides a platform for the cross-sharing and cross-pollination of ideas to co-create and co-innovate products that meet the needs of the customers.  

7. Enterprise Singapore is also slated to launch the Agri Open Innovation Lab early next year, which will bring together conglomerates, start-ups, SMEs, research institutions and technology disruptors to work on problem statements relating to the agri-commodity and food sector. The Lab will focus on three key drivers, which are to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers, raise food traceability and enhance food security and safety. 

8. Innovation will be key in taking our economy to the next stage of development and building a sustainable future. Singapore will continue to strengthen the innovative ecosystem to attract companies, ranging from large multi-national companies to start-ups, to anchor their innovation and R&D activities here.  

Cargill’s Innovation Centre - a partner and player in Singapore’s innovation ecosystem 

9. Cargill’s Singapore Innovation Centre will be its first in Southeast Asia and is also the first centre of excellence for Asian health and nutrition in the world. Tapping on Singapore’s R&D capabilities and talent pool, the Innovation Centre will bring research ideas from the laboratory to kitchens across Asia.   

10. By partnering with our research institutions and small-scale farms, together with the plan to become an Agri-Tech innovation hub, there will a value chain from farm to fork while research is brought from the laboratory to the kitchen. And together with research institutes, universities and business partners, the Innovation Centre will conduct research on health and nutrition in Asia to understand culinary insights related to Asian consumers, and forecast trends in food and nutritional areas. This research will help Cargill develop new food products with a focus on gut health, weight management, infant nutrition and geriatric nutrition. 

11. I am pleased to note that the Innovation Centre will also collaborate with local SMEs and start-ups to develop innovative health and nutrition solutions for the Asian market, such as plant-based protein, sugar alternatives and personal care. 

12. Cargill is a good example of an agri-commodity leader leveraging on Singapore to tap into regional growth areas, by basing both its commercial and R&D functions for Asia here, and we hope to see more of these examples across all business sectors.  

Conclusion

13. Once again let me welcome Cargill and also others here who are thinking of expanding into Singapore. Do join us and be plugged into the ecosystem as we continue to drive innovation. 

14. Congratulations to Cargill on opening its Innovation Centre in Singapore. I am confident that this partnership that we have with you will continue to mature for many more years and we hope to see your operations grow here in Singapore. Thank you. 

 
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