DPM Heng Swee Keat at the Siltronic Fab-Next Opening Ceremony

DPM Heng Swee Keat | 12 June 2024

Remarks by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat at the Siltronic 'Fab-Next' opening ceremony on 12 June 2024.


Dr Tobias Ohler, Chairman of the Supervisory Board, Siltronic,

Dr Michael Heckmeier, Chief Executive Officer, Siltronic,

Mr Niew Bock Cheng, President, Siltronic Singapore,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Good morning. I am delighted to join Siltronic and your partners today to open this new 300-millimetre wafer manufacturing facility.

For more than 25 years, as we just heard from Michael, Singapore and Siltronic have built a fruitful partnership meeting a critical global need and pushing the boundaries of a frontier technology.

This is Siltronic’s third wafer manufacturing facility in Singapore and marks the start of an exciting new chapter in our journey together.

The 300-millimetre wafers manufactured at this facility are roughly the size of a plate. The semiconductor chips that these wafers produce are even smaller.

But as we know, they are essential to the world we live in.

Semiconductor chips power the electronic devices we use daily – in our homes, hospitals, workplaces, and to connect and communicate with one another.

In fact, more than 1 trillion semiconductor chips were produced and sold globally in 2022. 

That is equivalent to roughly 125 chips for every person in the world.

The green and digital revolutions currently underway make semiconductors even more critical going forward.

Building a smarter, safer, greener and healthier world will require more chips, particularly more advanced chips, that can drive breakthroughs in quantum computing, develop AI applications, and deploy green technologies.

Indeed, global semiconductor sales stood at approximately US$530 billion in 2023.

By 2030, just 6 years away, this figure is projected to reach US$1 trillion.

In tandem with demand, the technology going into chips is also evolving and growing more complex.

Techniques such as heterogenous integration and chip stacking are gaining ground as the semiconductor industry seeks to overcome the physical limitations of Moore’s Law.

Amid these rapid changes, countries around the world increasingly recognise the potential of semiconductors to shape stronger economies and better lives for our peoples, and the wide-ranging innovations that the sector can unleash.

Many countries are rolling out incentives to attract investments and to reshore, or friend-shore, high-tech manufacturing.

Others are leaning more deliberately into higher value-added activities such as chip design and wafer fabrication.

As I mentioned earlier, advances in semiconductor technology can lay the foundation for impactful breakthroughs in many important areas.

These include the green transition, smart engineering innovations, and better healthcare solutions so that people can live longer and more healthily.

Fully realising this impact at scale requires close global cooperation – to both meet the rising demand for chips, and harness innovation to produce more powerful and productive chips.

This is how Singapore has approached the semiconductor domain over the decades – working with partners from around the world to strengthen supply and value chains globally.

In line with this, we have built enduring collaborations with players across the semiconductor landscape, including companies like Siltronic, GlobalFoundries, Micron, Applied Materials and many others.

These partnerships have contributed to our economic growth and created good, high-quality jobs for our people.

Siltronic’s first 2 facilities, for example, created around 1,000 jobs combined.

This latest facility is expected to create around 600 more jobs ranging from research to engineering.

Today, the semiconductor industry accounts for close to 40% of Singapore’s overall manufacturing value-added.

We continue to see semiconductor investments as a key enabler of our Manufacturing 2030 vision, especially our goal of growing the manufacturing sector’s value-add by 50%.

Beyond powering our own future growth and development, Singapore’s investments in science and technology, including in semiconductors, are also geared towards working together with like-minded partners to tackle shared challenges.

Indeed, Singapore aspires to be a Global-Asia node of technology, innovation and enterprise – investing in research and development, and leveraging strong linkages to the region and beyond to enable innovative solutions to scale.

By working together with other innovative nodes around the world, we can better harness technology for the benefit of humanity.

In the semiconductor space, which many of you here are engaged in, how can we best catalyse and leverage innovation towards even more impactful outcomes going forward? How do we strengthen our partnerships?

One important lesson from the COVID pandemic and recent trade disruptions is that we need to enhance supply chain resilience.

The pandemic showed us vividly the importance of having supply chains that are not only “just in time” to maximise efficiency, but also “just-in-case” to ensure resilience against unexpected shocks.

Remaining open and connected, even amid challenging circumstances, builds a “resilience premium” that can help to bring the best minds together to co-create and co-innovate new solutions and breakthroughs.

This new facility here broke ground in October 2021, when the world was still in the thick of the pandemic.

All through COVID, Singapore maintained our trade connectivity – keeping our ports and airports open and functioning – to facilitate the movement of goods and essential items.

This minimised the disruption of semiconductor supply chains, ensuring that critical electronics could reach their destinations in a timely and efficient manner.

Investing in such resilience also fosters trust.

To come together to leverage innovation and tackle shared challenges, partners must have confidence in one another’s credibility and reliability.

And trust has been the backbone of Singapore’s partnership with Siltronic.i. As Michael said, Siltronic’s first facility here commenced operations in 1999.

Since then, we have steadily built trust and familiarity with each other, and each successive facility has focused on increasingly advanced wafers.

This latest facility will make some of the most advanced wafers by current industry standards, geared at supporting complex applications such as high-performance computing and high-speed mobile processors.

While resilience enables us to do what we already know efficiently and reliably, growing the semiconductor industry and its applications requires us to advance the frontiers of technology and innovation.

As part of our national Research, Innovation and Enterprise, or RIE 2025 Masterplan, the Singapore Government has committed $28 billion to grow the overall R&D ecosystem in Singapore.

Semiconductor R&D is a key focus area in our plans.

We promote collaboration between academia and industry to focus research on the promising areas in this domain.

Some significant research initiatives which have been launched include a Centre called SHINE – Singapore Hybrid Integrated Next generation micro-Electronics, and the National Gallium Nitride (GaN) Technology Centre.

More recently, the Government launched the National Semiconductor Translation and Innovation Centre, or NSTIC.

The NSTIC for silicon photonics and flat optics will support translational research and development, prototyping, and small-volume manufacturing in order to facilitate transfers to mass production.

It also serves as a translation platform for technologies and intellectual properties arising from more upstream research efforts in our Institutes of Higher Learning.

By doing so, the NSTIC aims to catalyse the accumulation and cross-learning of semiconductor knowledge and process know-how, thereby driving greater R&D synergies and enhancing potential economic impact.

In tandem with public investment, private R&D investment can also help to catalyse new breakthroughs.

Over the years, we have supported the establishment of various Corporate Labs to draw closer linkages between industry and academia and push new frontiers through industry-relevant research.

The Applied Materials-NUS Advanced Materials Corporate Lab, for example, was launched in 2018.

Combining the strengths and expertise of Applied Materials and NUS, the lab seeks to accelerate the discovery and commercialisation of new materials and processing techniques for the manufacturing of next-generation semiconductors.

This new Fab-Next facility, Siltronic’s latest and largest investment in Singapore, will add to the vibrancy and competitiveness of Singapore’s semiconductor ecosystem and create good jobs for our people.

With this new facility, Siltronic will introduce silicon wafer epitaxy capabilities to Singapore for the first time.

These emerging R&D capabilities will be key in manufacturing leading-edge materials that go into some of the most advanced semiconductors, today and in the future.

I commend Siltronic for introducing these R&D functions here in your Singapore operations. Let me also encourage you to do more in the years ahead, including by partnering our Institutes of Higher Learning and Research Institutes.

Beyond R&D, Singapore seeks to nurture talent who have industry-relevant skillsets to support the sector’s growth and innovation.

One such platform to develop talent is the Singapore Industry Scholarship, or SgIS, Programme.

I would like to thank Siltronic for partnering us to sponsor 20 young, talented scholars since 2019.

To develop talent at the post-graduate level, we also created the Industrial Postgraduate Programme or IPP, which seeks to develop postgraduate talent in critical R&D domains.

With the additional R&D and innovation capabilities that Siltronic is investing in through this new facility, we welcome you to join us as a partner in the IPP too.

Let me conclude. Semiconductors continue to be a frontier technology with the potential to transform the way we live, work, and connect with one another.

Singapore is investing to grow our overall semiconductor ecosystem, which will add value to existing industry partners, and support innovative, new enterprises.

Over the years, we have developed a cluster of semiconductor firms, with dynamic local suppliers and global firms from different parts of the world, focusing on different parts of the value-chain.

This rich ecosystem enhances the overall competitiveness of the industry in Singapore.

We are confident that the industry in Singapore will continue to innovate and make wafers and chips that are more productive, powerful and sustainable.

This new facility by Siltronic opens a new chapter in our longstanding partnership. I trust that it will unlock many new opportunities for us to work together, with each other as well as the rest of the ecosystem, on impactful innovation.

Congratulations once again to Siltronic, EDB, JTC and other partners on this milestone.

We look forward to working with Siltronic, and other semiconductor industry partners, to advance technology in ways that shape a better future.

I wish Siltronic every success and many more milestones in the years ahead.

Thank you.