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Opening remarks by Minister Chan Chun Sing at the press conference for the sectoral company visit to AEM Singapore

Opening remarks by Minister Chan Chun Sing at the press conference for the sectoral company visit to AEM Singapore

1. A few weeks ago, we shared that even amidst the tough times, there are companies that are still doing well like AEM, the company that we are at today. Their market is in fact growing, and we will help them to expand further. 

2. There are companies that are consolidating their capacities while preserving their capabilities, and there are companies that we are helping to pivot. AEM is an example of the companies that are still doing very well - in fact they are growing from strength to strength, notwithstanding the COVID-19 environment. Why they are so special, from the stories that we have heard, is because they are able to innovate, penetrate the market, and capture a part of the global value chain. 

3.  Some of you will remember me saying that nowadays when we look at investments in Singapore to create good jobs for Singaporeans, we cannot just look at how much money we are making or how many good jobs we are creating. We also need to look at where they sit in the entire global value chain, so that we are not easily bypassed or replaced. I think AEM has done this very successfully, in positioning themselves in one part of the global value chain that makes them hard to be dislodged or replaced. Today, they are one of the six Singapore companies included in the Forbes’ annual Best Under A Billion list, which highlights 200 SMEs in the Asia-Pacific region with sales under US$1 billion.  

4. We are going to step up our efforts to help many of these good and aspiring companies grow and create more jobs in Singapore. In 2019, we launched the Scale-up SG programme to groom high growth potential local companies, so that they can grow, create more good jobs in Singapore and embed ourselves in the global value chain. Last December, I shared that participants from the first run of Scale-up SG participants have set out to achieve 20% year-on-year revenue growth over the next three years; and their target was to almost double their growth rates prior to entering the programme.

5. Amidst these difficult circumstances, we are not going to slow down our pace to help our promising companies conquer the global markets. In fact, we are going to step up our pace to do so. We will have an enhanced Scale-up SG scheme that will be implemented in the coming year – there will be a one-off enhancement of the Scale-up SG support levels from 70% to 80% until September 2021. This will alleviate the cost pressures faced by many of our companies during this period. Our promise to all our promising companies is this – so long as they have the ambition and the drive, we will find the means to help them realise their dreams, to penetrate the global markets, and to grow from strength to strength. We will find the resources necessary to support our companies to grow so that they can create more and better jobs for fellow Singaporeans. With this in mind, we aim to groom another 50 promising companies over the next two years under the enhanced Scale-up SG programme. 

6. This is just part of the overall suite of targeted measures that we have in place to help our companies that are facing different challenges in this difficult environment. 

7. We are also very happy that AEM did not just grow as an individual company. With the capabilities built up by AEM, it has also helped us build up an ecosystem of precision engineering capabilities and suppliers, which many of the Singapore SMEs can participate in as well. And this is how we see ourselves growing together as one community. 

8. AEM has also made its presence felt across the globe by continuously innovating to stay ahead of the competition. They have also struck up very promising partnerships with many other entities around the world. This is a very good example of how we see Singapore companies going forward – not just being good in the Singapore market and serving the world, but also building the network of capabilities across the entire world for us to service the global operations. Like what I have said before, when people do business with us, it is not just to trade with us nor through us. But truly, AEM is an example of people doing business on the Singapore platform - that is in Singapore and beyond Singapore. 

9. We are happy that under the Scale-up SG programme, we have created many good outcomes and opportunities for fellow Singaporeans. For example: 

a. Adera, an AI and data security Scale-up, recently hired 21 young graduates through the SGUnited Traineeship scheme to tap on fresh engineering talent to grow their company as software and test engineers. 
b. Another Scale-up participant, Q&M Dental Group, worked with Workforce Singapore to launch the Place-and-Train Programme for dental surgery assistants in July. 
c. Just on Saturday, we saw news of Etonhouse offering more than 100 positions in its international schools to the recently retrenched staff from SIA. 
d. I am also happy to share that on the back of this, the other Scale-up SG participants Commonwealth Capital and Jumbo, are also ready to offer 50 positions each to these SIA staff. Andrew Kwan, the Group MD of Commonwealth Capital, who is also the President of Restaurant Association of Singapore (RAS), shared that RAS is also working with its members to put out over 1,000 positions.

10.  This is how we intend to help one another through these very difficult times, with the Government partnering our companies, and also our companies partnering the unions to see how we can place the displaced workers from one company or one sector to adjacent ones, so that they can continue to preserve the hard-won capabilities that we have built up over the years.

11.  Besides knowledge sharing, the Scale-up SG programme also provides a platform for participating companies to interact with one another. We have already heard good examples of how interface of these interactions have been able to create new business ideas. Let me give you an example. HMI and PBA are companies who saw synergies to partner each other during this pandemic to capture new opportunities. Both companies are collaborating to roll out PBA’s Sunburst UV robots in HMI’s hospitals in Malaysia. This is an example of the interface of two different companies coming together, creating new ideas and new solutions, even during this pandemic. We will continue to make sure that we step up the pace of our Scale-up SG programme to allow even more promising Singapore companies to scale the heights further in the global market.

12. Recently, Enterprise Singapore also supported the Singapore Precision Engineering & Technology Association (SPETA) with the Executive-in-Residence programme to help roll out digitalisation and I4.0 solutions for smaller companies in the precision engineering sector, to accelerate and scale technology adoption. This two-year pilot programme was announced during Budget to support our Trade Associations and Chambers (TACs) in engaging experienced professionals and help local companies in their transformation efforts. Our target is to help another 24 precision engineering companies implement digitalisation and I4.0 solutions by Aug 2022. 

13. I will now pull the threads together on how we are helping these Group A companies grow. We are making sure that we enhance the Scale-up SG programme to allow more companies to come on board. The second thing is that we are making sure that these companies have access to the good resources in ASTAR and other research institutions, so that we can continue to work with them to innovate so we can continue to build a bigger market rather than to compete on price alone. We are going to strengthen the capabilities of our trade associations like SPETA, for them to help the companies in their sector adopt new technologies. We are going to enable all these promising companies to have more chances to interact with one another and create new solutions that cross the boundaries between different adjacent sectors. 

14.  Through all these measures, we are confident that even during this crisis, we can pull apart from the competition and distinguish ourselves as a community. What you have seen AEM done over the last many years is not just about AEM, but also how AEM has created an ecosystem to help the industry and the related parts of the industry to grow together and for that, as one Team Singapore to penetrate the world and the global markets. 

15. So with that, I will now invite Minister Josephine Teo to give you an update on the job situation and Dr Koh to share with you a bit more on how the unions are playing their part to help the workers in the companies that are facing challenges. Thank you. 

 
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