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Speech by Minister Gan Kim Yong at the Launch of A*STAR-Arcstone Joint Lab

Speech by Minister Gan Kim Yong at the Launch of A*STAR-Arcstone Joint Lab

Mr Willson Deng, CEO of Arcstone, 

Ms Chan Lai Fung, Chairman A*STAR,

Mr Frederick Chew, CEO A*STAR,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

1. Good afternoon. 

2. It is my pleasure to join you at the launch of Arcstone’s joint lab with A*STAR today. 

3. First, let me thank the organisers for their hard work in putting together today’s event to ensure that all of us can participate safely and meaningfully.

Pressing on with economic recovery and transformation 

4. COVID-19 has been a part of our lives for more than a year now. 

a. We are progressively bringing the local situation under control. 

b. However, many countries are still facing new waves of infections.

c. Singapore, like many countries, are rolling out vaccination as fast as we can to protect our people, and to allow the economy to resume. 

d. COVID-19 is not likely to disappear altogether, and instead, it may become endemic eventually. We must therefore be prepared to live with occasional outbreaks from time to time, but do what we can to slow the transmission and reduce the risk of serious complications. 

5. Inevitably, our economy has been hard hit by the pandemic.

a. In 2020, we saw one of the worst economic performances since our independence. 

b. Notwithstanding, the manufacturing sector managed to achieve a 7.3% year-on-year growth in the same year. 

c. As we forge ahead towards economic recovery, the manufacturing sector continues to be a strong engine of growth for Singapore. The sector registered a 7.5% year-on-year growth in the first quarter of this year, continuing to outpace overall GDP growth of 0.2%. 

6. We will build on this positive momentum by pressing ahead with our Manufacturing 2030 plans.

a. Our vision is for Singapore to become a global business, innovation and talent hub for advanced manufacturing. 

b. To get there, we are deepening our partnerships with industry players to enhance the sector’s competitiveness, and transform the sector through our Industry Transformation Maps and investments in research, innovation and enterprise. 

c. As part of these efforts, the Government has committed S$25 billion to the RIE2025 Plan over the next five years, covering key domains including manufacturing, trade and connectivity.

d. The ambition is for Singapore to move towards high value manufacturing where competition is not based on cost, but based on intellectual property, know-how and skills. 

e. This way, we can stay ahead of global competition and entrench ourselves in global value chains. 

Growing a strong base of local manufacturing firms 

7. In order for us to succeed in our Manufacturing 2030 vision, Singapore cannot rely solely on foreign enterprises to set up base here. 

a. We must have a strong base of local manufacturing firms with homegrown expertise and knowledge in order to be relevant and build a resilient growth sector. 

b. The Government is fully committed to supporting the growth and transformation of local businesses, and we can do this through public-private partnerships like the Singapore Together Alliances for Action, and through R&D collaborations with public sector research institutes. 

Under RIE2020, A*STAR undertook about 2,400 projects with local enterprises, of which more than 80% were with SMEs and startups.

A*STAR’s Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Centre (ARTC) and the Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech) host the A*STAR’s Model Factory initiative, where companies can learn about, co-develop and test-bed Industry 4.0 technologies to become more competitive. ARTC also provides a home for joint labs with companies.

I’m heartened to share that these programmes have been well-received by industry players. Over 130 companies have participated in the Model Factory Initiative since it was launched in 2017. 

c. At the same time, we are actively developing a pipeline of skilled workers to build up the manufacturing workforce. Industry-oriented training provided at A*STAR’s ARTC and SIMTech emphasises hands-on experiences at state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities. 

8. Arcstone is a good example of a homegrown manufacturing company that is contributing to our ambition of building up a strong base of local manufacturing firms. 

a. Since its incorporation, Arcstone has not only actively expanded their customer base by internationalising into the region, but also actively developed new capabilities through partnerships with ARTC, and tapping on programmes such as the Technology for Enterprise Capability Upgrading, or T-Up. 

b. Since the start of its collaboration with ARTC in 2016, Arcstone has tripled its customer base and sales revenue. It has not only consistently invested in R&D, but has also become a key industry player in enabling Industry 4.0 adoption within the manufacturing sector. 

9. It is commendable that Arcstone has not slowed down its growth plans because of COVID-19. 

a. The $18 million A*STAR-Arcstone joint lab is testament to Arcstone’s ambitions to constantly innovate and transform. 

b. The joint lab will enable Arcstone to not only develop new products, but also help other local SMEs speed up digital transformation in their factories and make production greener.  

c. By partnering A*STAR, Arcstone will be able to tap on A*STAR’s capabilities in advanced manufacturing and Industry 4.0 technologies, as well as computational modelling, simulation and artificial intelligence. This will help to transform Arcstone’s manufacturing execution system (MES), which connects, monitors and controls manufacturing operations on the factory floor.

d. Through the collaboration, the team aims to disrupt the traditional MES model by using artificial intelligence, and leveraging the Industrial Internet of Things extensively. A*STAR will be able to contribute by helping Arcstone halve the R&D time taken to develop this smart System of systems. 

e. Through the joint lab, Arcstone expects to create about 30 engineering jobs over the next three years.

Conclusion

10. I am glad to see the strong partnership between A*STAR and Arcstone. 

11. I hope to see more local enterprises embark on such collaborations so that we can emerge stronger from COVID-19. 

12. Thank you.


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