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Speech by Minister Gan Kim Yong at the Launch of Singapore Agri-Food Innovation Lab (SAIL)

Speech by Minister Gan Kim Yong at the Launch of Singapore Agri-Food Innovation Lab (SAIL)

Mr Peter Ong, Chairman, Enterprise Singapore,

Professor Subra Suresh, President, Nanyang Technological University (NTU),

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

1. Good afternoon. It is my pleasure to join you here today at Nanyang Technological University for the launch of the Singapore Agri-Food Innovation Lab (SAIL).

 

Introduction

 

2. According to the United Nations, the world’s population is expected to increase by 25 percent to around 10 billion by 2050. Trends such as the global shift towards sustainability and a rising middle class in Asia have also reshaped consumer preferences and expectations. There will be an increasing demand for food not just in terms of quantity but also quality.

 

3. In response to this global trend, ESG and NTU worked together to create SAIL, a national platform that will connect agri-food industry players across the ecosystem – from large global agri-commodities traders to local agri-food tech players.  They come together to actively collaborate and develop innovative solutions. This will promote closer links between enterprises of all sizes and strengthen our position as a global hub for trade and agri-food innovation.

 

Commitment to strengthen Singapore’s position as a globally competitive trading and agri-food innovation hub

 

4. Today, Singapore is one of the world’s leading agri-commodities trading hubs, capturing about 20 percent of global trade flows.  The trading community here has also expanded its presence beyond trading to include other activities such as manufacturing as well as research and development (R&D), generating significant economic benefits in Singapore.

 

5. We want to partner them in their growth journey. This is where SAIL plays a role – connecting global corporates with local agri-food tech startups and SMEs that have the capabilities to jointly develop new solutions and products. This complements our initiatives to build-up our R&D and innovation capabilities.

 

  a) First, we have committed S$144 million to support the Singapore Food Story Research and Development (R&D) Program, led by A*STAR and the Singapore Food Agency (SFA). The program was initiated to support the national agenda of strengthening Singapore's food security and achieving our "30 by 30" goal, while generating economic benefits for us. Thematic areas include Sustainable Urban Food Production, Future Foods: Advanced Biotech-based Protein Production, and Food Safety Science and Innovation.

 

  b) A*STAR also established the Singapore Institute of Food and Biotechnology Innovation (SIFBI) in 2020. The institute brings together end-to-end food innovation capabilities, across Food Process Engineering, Clinical Nutrition, and Industrial Biotechnology for the biomanufacturing of food, feed, and specialty ingredients.  This provides a single touchpoint for industry players and public partners that are keen to collaborate with A*STAR in these areas.

 

  c) Our Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) are also stepping up to meet our innovation demands. One recent example here at NTU is the launch of the Future Ready Food Safety Hub (or FRESH). FRESH is a tripartite partnership between SFA, A*STAR and NTU set up to drive food safety research under the Singapore Food Story R&D Programme.

 

Strengthening Singapore’s agri-food ecosystem

 

6. SAIL takes these initiatives further by addressing the innovation needs of our agri industry players. SAIL has identified 4 focus areas – sustainability, agri-food productivity and quality, digitalisation of business operations, and product R&D. These focus areas address the immediate needs of agri-food players and the capabilities of our local agri-food solution providers.

 

7. As of today, SAIL has onboarded 22 industry partners. Bunge, a leading global agri-commodities merchant, has sought to leverage Singapore’s robust R&D ecosystem to develop plant-based protein solutions for Asian consumers. Through SAIL, Bunge is working with NTU’s Food Science and Technology (FST) programme, and exploring a collaboration with local foodtech startup, Float Foods, to investigate plant-based product solutions.

 

Conclusion

 

8. The launch of SAIL today represents the Government’s commitment to support the growth of our vibrant agri-food industry ecosystem. I am confident that this tripartite partnership among the academia, private and public sector will sharpen Singapore’s competitive edge and enhance our position as the preferred trading and agri-food innovation hub.

 

9. Let me congratulate NTU, ESG, and our founding industry partners, on the launch of SAIL.

 

10. Thank you.

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