Speech by Second Minister Dr Tan See Leng at the launch of A*STAR's Joint Labs with SMEs and Pilot Innovation Factory @ SIMtech

Speech by Second Minister Dr Tan See Leng at the launch of A*STAR's Joint Labs with SMEs and Pilot Innovation Factory @ SIMtech

Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Good afternoon.

1. I would first like to congratulate Tru-Marine and Abrasive Engineering on the launch of their laboratories at the Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Centre, or ARTC, as well as the Innovation Factory members on the launch of the Innovation Factory @ SIMTech. COVID-19 has created a difficult operating environment for businesses, and the road to economic recovery is still uncertain. I am therefore happy to know that our local SMEs are not standing still and waiting for the situation to blow over.

Instead, they are looking ahead by continuing to invest in R&D during these challenging times,  and I encourage other SMEs to also develop new business lines and strengthen existing ones, to increase revenue and strengthen their competitive advantages.

Supporting Innovation in Business

2. As a key pillar of Singapore’s economy, the manufacturing industry must remain agile and resilient. The Government’s investment over the years in research, innovation and enterprise, or RIE, has supported the continued growth and competitiveness of our manufacturing sectors, and built up the innovation capacities of our companies. The adoption of technologies developed through RIE, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, by our companies will anchor high-value manufacturing activities of leading industry players in Singapore, and support local firms to expand into growth markets overseas. Last week, DPM Heng Swee Keat announced the RIE2025 Plan, amounting to $25 billion, affirming our continued commitment to invest in Singapore’s long term future.

3. There are many different initiatives and collaboration pathways available to our SMEs, which may be at different stages in their business transformation. Businesses can reach out to our public sector research institutes for R&D expertise and collaborations on projects to co-develop new manufacturing processes, products and services. The ARTC is one such initiative to support our businesses. ARTC plays host to the Model Factory initiative for companies embarking on their first steps in advanced manufacturing, to learn about, co-develop and test-bed Industry 4.0 technologies to become more competitive. At ARTC, SMEs can co-develop technologies with the prospect of ready implementation in our large local enterprises and MNCs, entrenching their value in the global supply chain. For SMEs willing to dive deeper in specific technology areas, ARTC and SIMTech also collectively provides a supportive home for joint labs with industry partners. 

4. For Tru-Marine and Abrasive Engineering, the opening of their joint labs today is a key milestone in their collaboration with A*STAR. Both companies have seen how R&D has made a difference to their businesses, and have committed to continued investment in R&D and the digitalization of their factory operations to spur growth, build resilience, and strengthen their innovation capacity.

a. Through their joint lab, Abrasive Engineering will develop higher precision valves needed across many different sectors, ranging from aerospace to FMCG, with the aim to manufacture their new products locally.
b. In their joint lab, Tru-Marine will use the latest Industry 4.0 technologies to develop a system that monitors the health of marine turbochargers in real time, allowing them to predict potential problems and pre-empt clients to cut unplanned downtime and save costs.

As part of this effort, Tru-Marine and A*STAR will be signing a memorandum of understanding with Pacific International Lines, or PIL, to pilot Tru-Marine’s new predictive maintenance-as-a-service application on PIL’s ships.

5. The launch of A*STAR’s pilot Innovation Factory @ SIMTech, in partnership with Enterprise Singapore, is another avenue for companies looking for inspiration and a collaborative environment to push their boundaries. The Innovation Factory will help participating companies ideate, design, engineer, and pilot innovative products to move up the value chain and become more competitive. Fourteen SMEs, the Singapore Precision Engineering and Technology Association, or SPETA, and the Singapore Manufacturing Federation, or SMF, are already onboard this initiative, and there are a number of companies in the pipeline that have expressed interest to work with the Innovation Factory. Under this initiative, SIMTech has kicked off more than 10 projects to co-create products with companies, such as consultancy projects for consumer products and Medtech devices.

Supporting Workers and Creating Good Jobs for Singaporeans

6. These initiatives reflect the Government’s commitment to prepare our workforce amidst changes across the industry, the speed of innovation and changes to business models. Let me elaborate on three broader measures we have taken to ensure this:

First, the Government has rolled out schemes such as the Jobs Growth Incentive, SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package, and SkillsFuture Credit top-up over the course of the year, to help bridge skills gaps in the workforce.

Second, the Advanced Manufacturing Training Academy, launched in October and also housed at ARTC, will help enhance the competitiveness of Singapore’s manufacturing workforce by identifying emerging skillsets and coordinating training and skills development across the sector.

7. Lastly, SIMTech and SkillsFuture Singapore, or SSG, have been organising Workforce Skills Qualifications training programmes, or WSQ, and advanced manufacturing modular courses for PMETs.


8. In conclusion, innovation is key for businesses to transform and thrive during these challenging times and be well-placed for a post-pandemic future. However, it is equally important for businesses to develop human capital and nurture talent, and remain committed to supporting workers in skills training. The Government will continue to work closely with Trade Associations and Chambers in supporting their member companies and the larger business community. Together, we can enhance Singapore’s ability to compete for jobs, and create jobs and opportunities not only for today’s workers, but for future generations of Singaporeans as well.

Thank you.

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