Speech by Deputy Prime Minister, Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies and Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat at Infineon's 50th Anniversary on 1 December 2020.
Dr. Reinhard Ploss,
CEO of Infineon Technologies,
His Excellency, Dr. Norbet Riedel,
Ambassador of Germany to Singapore,
Mr Chua Chee Seong,
President, Infineon Technologies Asia Pacific
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good morning everyone. I am very happy to join you for Infineon’s 50th anniversary in Singapore. Just five years ago, Singapore celebrated 50 years of Independence. But the circumstances we are in today cannot be more different from a year ago, much less five years, much less fifty years, as the world confronts the crisis of a generation. As we look back at the last half a century, Infineon and Singapore had weathered crises together. Each time, we came out stronger and our partnership expanded and deepened. I am glad to hear from Chee Seong how Infineon Singapore has adapted in this crisis. By working together, Infineon and Singapore can emerge stronger from COVID-19. We should take this occasion to reflect on our shared journey, and what it means for the future.
Growth of Semiconductor Industry
COVID-19 has accelerated changes that were already taking place, in the way we conduct business, learn, and interact. The adoption of digital technologies, such as online meeting platforms and cloud, is rising rapidly. Companies are coming up with smarter and better solutions at unprecedented speed, to cope with the crisis and to find new opportunities. The global semiconductor industry is the backbone for these changes. Not only will demand for existing technologies grow, but the rise of more advanced technologies – such as edge computing, the Internet of things and AI – will drive growth even further.
In Asia, despite COVID-19, the fundamentals for growth in many economies remain strong. The signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership last month by fifteen member states, including Singapore, is a reaffirmation of our commitment to multilateralism.
Infineon is well-positioned to serve this rising demand with its range of world leading semiconductor products, such as sensors and microcontrollers. Singapore has also built up a strong semiconductor ecosystem over the decades. Given the cyclical nature of the industry, we have been fortunate to have committed companies that have grown with us through the ups and downs. Infineon Singapore is one such company that has been here for 50 years. While Infineon was only established 21 years ago, its manufacturing presence here started when it was still part of Siemens.
A Leading Advanced Manufacturer in Singapore
Singapore’s semiconductor industry has grown significantly over the years, from less than 1% of our GDP in the 1960s to around 7% today. Infineon has contributed significantly to this growth, having invested close to 700 million dollars here in just the past 10 years. Your partnership with Singapore is valuable to us, and we will strive to make it even stronger.
Today, Infineon’s manufacturing operations here is amongst the “smartest” across your global sites. Infineon’s plant in Singapore has been recognised by the World Economic Forum as a Lighthouse project, a distinction given to only 50 other model factories around the world. My visit to your plant in 2017 left a deep impression on the advancements we have made in manufacturing. I am even more impressed by the transformation that Infineon has embarked on since. Through your Smart Enterprise Program, Infineon has managed to further automate your factory floor processes. For example, dry packing and palletisation – a traditionally-labour intensive process – is done today via an automated packing line in Singapore. This has freed up your operators to handle higher value-added tasks.
Besides running a smart factory, Singapore also serves as a key node for Infineon’s regional and global operations, employing close to a thousand people. For example, the design and testing of your TriCore automotive micro-controllers take place here at Kallang. These chips control how much power a car needs, helps the car avoid collision, and connects the car to online platforms. The chips designed and tested here are also sold to global car manufacturers. Today, one in two cars manufactured globally uses the TriCore chip. Additionally, 80% of all automotive chips manufactured by Infineon are tested in Singapore. Singapore is also home to Infineon’s Asia Pacific headquarters and its only R&D center in Asia.
Besides establishing a large operation base here, Infineon also contributes to the growth of Singapore’s innovation movement. In 2018, Infineon launched its first-ever Co-innovation Startup space in Singapore. To date, this initiative has supported eight local startups, spanning a variety of areas. Ampotech, is one of the startups. With support from Infineon’s experienced R&D team, Ampotech developed a smart meter that accurately measures the energy usage of a wide variety of applications, in industry and at home.
Having like-minded global partners like Infineon strengthens our position in global value chains and our goal to be an advanced manufacturing base in the region driven by innovation.
Investing for a resilient future
As we navigate through the worst of this global crisis, we must continue to plan for and invest in the longer-term.
I am heartened that Infineon will be investing more than 27 million dollars over 3 years on an AI initiative in Singapore. Under this initiative, Infineon Singapore will be partnering academia, industry, and local-startup SixSense AI to develop new AI solutions and courses. Infineon Singapore will also be signing an MOU with SGInnovate to partner other AI startups. These efforts will help grow our AI capabilities and provide a reference customer for promising startups. I look forward to hearing the details from Dr. Ploss in his speech later and I thank Infineon for your confidence in Singapore.
Creating good jobs
Over the last few decades, the semiconductor industry has created many good jobs for our people, across many different roles. Many Singaporeans started out in basic jobs, but have grown and taken on more complex jobs over time, including global and regional roles.
Infineon is a role model in the semiconductor industry. You are investing in your employees, at every stage of their career, with programmes to enhance the career pathways of each employee. Fresh graduates are put through the Jumpstart Graduate Programme, where they are mentored as they rotate through different departments. Employees can easily access courses to upgrade their skills. I understand that you have set yourself the ambitious target of upskilling the entire workforce here to be AI ready. As a result of your commitment to employees, many Singaporeans have stayed with the company and risen through the ranks. Today, more than half of Infineon Singapore’s senior management are Singaporeans.
Infineon continues to hire as part of the newly launched AI initiative. You are also providing opportunities for fresh job entrants during COVID-19 through the SG United Traineeship programme. To build a good pipeline of talent for the industry, Infineon also co-hosts the Chips@School competition with Stem Inc, to spur the interest of our secondary students in STEM. I trust that you will continue to create good jobs and better opportunities for our people as you grow.
As we build back better from this crisis, we must ensure that growth is sustainable. In Singapore, we aim to halve our peak emissions by 2050, with an eventual aim of net-zero emissions in the second half of this century.
Infineon is working with us to help us achieve this target. Globally, you have laid out the target of achieving carbon neutrality by 2030. Locally, Infineon Singapore has reduced carbon emissions from your manufacturing operations by more than 1 kilo tons. This carbon reduction is equivalent to the emissions from 2,000 flights from Singapore to Munich! I look forward to strengthening our partnership as we shift to a low-carbon economy.
Once again, congratulations for achieving this important milestone. In the last 50 years, we have gone through the ups and downs of the global economic cycles well. Your continued investment in Singapore, even as we face the crisis of a generation, is testament to the trust and confidence built over the years. Singapore appreciates your commitment and your strong partnership! Let us work even more closely together in the next 50 years to deepen collaboration and build a better future for the world!
On this happy occasion, I wish you great success ahead!
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