DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam at Proctor and Gamble Singapore Innovation Center 5th Year Anniversary

SM Tharman Shanmugaratnam | 7 March 2019

Speech by DPM and Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, at Proctor And Gamble Singapore Innovation Center’s 5th year anniversary, on 7 March 2019.


Ms. Kathleen Fish, Chief Research, Development & Innovation Officer, P&G

Mr Magesvaran Suranjan, President of Asia Pacific & Indian Subcontinent, Middle East and Africa, P&G,

Ms. Stephanie Syptak-Ramnath, Charges d’affaires of the United States,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning.


I am pleased to be here to mark the fifth anniversary of P&G’s Singapore Innovation Centre (SgIC). I had the privilege of opening the Centre back in 2014, and am glad that it has made such significant progress. This 5th year milestone for SgIC is also a mark of how we are deepening the partnership between Singapore and P&G, a partnership which goes back over 30 years, to 1987.


When we opened the SgIC in 2014, P&G had signed a Master Research Collaboration Agreement (MRCA) with A*STAR. The agreement includes joint funding of up to S$60 million, covering partnerships with public research partners, including A*STAR, as well as our universities and public hospitals. In the last five years, we have already seen several successful outcomes for P&G, coming out of the MRCA.


For example, in skincare research, P&G and A*STAR worked together to discover the effect of niacinamide on epidermal stem cell proliferation, or in layman terms, how people can continue looking young. This is of course a big issue for skincare companies, and the science is now part of Olay CellScience, which was P&G’s biggest product launch in China in recent years.


P&G and A*STAR also worked together to develop a state-of-the-art vision inspection system that is capable of detecting tiny cracks and scratches on SK-II bottles at 100% inspection rate and up to 150 bottles per minute. P&G had a problem statement – to ensure immaculate quality of its high-end product lines. A*STAR researchers in the Advanced Remanufacturing Technology Centre and JM Vistec, a Singapore SME that specialises in machine vision, found and built a solution for it, by re-applying vision inspection technology that is used in the aerospace industry. This is an example of how our local innovation ecosystem can bring value to our corporate partners and at the same time develop deep capabilities in our local enterprises.


Another example - Racer Technology, a local contract manufacturer, worked with P&G to develop the SK-II magnetic wand. This is a hand-held device which uses its breakthrough tri-magnetic technology, to target and push key ingredients of SK-II products into the skin, resulting in 3 times greater absorption of these ingredients. The collaboration was featured in the Singapore International Chamber of Commerce Awards as a finalist for the “Most Scalable Collaboration” in 2018.


These partnerships – between Government and private industry, between large and small companies – are critical as we deepen and scale up innovation capacity. Beyond supporting innovation for existing businesses, our vision is for large corporates like P&G to create and grow new global-scale businesses out of Singapore.


I am happy to see this coming to life, with the setup of GrowthWorks, that will work towards creating P&G’s next billion-dollar business to be globally headquartered in Singapore. We hope that P&G’s efforts will also show the way for other leading corporate partners to do likewise - working with EDB to grow their ventures from here, and in so doing build up our local ecosystem.


SgIC has also developed a diverse range of good job opportunities. I remember meeting Wei Xuan and Aisha during the opening of the SgIC in 2014. Wei Xuan was then a Senior Products Research Scientist, and Aisha a Senior Researcher. Today, both individuals have progressed to take on greater responsibility in SgIC. Wei Xuan is now the Head of Global Open Innovation, responsible for developing partnerships with external innovators, and commercialising technologies into new businesses. Aisha has become a skincare scientist, a deeper specialisation requiring considerable technical mastery.


SgIC has also participated actively in Singapore’s Professional Conversion Programmes (PCP). Since 2017, SgIC has hired more than 30 employees through the “Professional Conversion Program for Associate Researchers” conducted by Singapore Polytechnic. In working with Singapore Polytechnic, the SgIC played an active role in shaping the PCP curriculum, and delivered several of the training modules. This has provided new career pathways for Singaporeans, such as Syahieda, who was previously a student care teacher, and now a researcher with P&G in here in SgIC.


Once again, thank you to P&G’s partnerships with Singapore on these many dimensions – innovation, people development, and also your various other activities, such as the E Centre.