DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam at the Grand Opening Ceremony of Schneider Electric's New Headquarters for East Asia and Japan in Singapore

SM Tharman Shanmugaratnam | 29 March 2018

Speech by DPM and Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, at the Grand Opening Ceremony of Schneider Electric’s New Headquarters for East Asia and Japan in Singapore on 29 March 2018.


Mr Jean-Pascal Tricoire, Chairman and CEO, Schneider Electric
His Excellency Mr Marc Abensour, Ambassador of France to Singapore
Distinguished Guests and Members of the Schneider family


It is a real pleasure to join you here at the grand opening of Schneider Electric’s new Headquarters for East Asia and Japan.

Schneider Electric and Singapore’s journey of innovation

Schneider’s operations in Singapore began 45 years ago, and today span a whole spectrum of capabilities, from energy management to controls and automation to supply chain management, and R&D and headquarter functions.

This new Headquarters is testament to how the partnership between Schneider and Singapore has deepened over time. Schneider’s journey here in fact mirrors that of Singapore, having started with industrialisation in our early days before moving into modern services and, more recently, into innovation in every sector. It is this latest phase of our partnership, in innovation, that I will focus my brief remarks on. 

I am encouraged that Schneider has been building up its R&D presence in Singapore. The recent establishment of a 21-person Machine Solutions R&D Team1  increases its R&D base to more than 100 people. 

On top of this, it is also significant that Schneider has established its Software Industry Solutions Centre in Singapore, which will help companies in a range of industries enhance productivity, improve safety and boost sustainable performance. I understand that the Centre currently employs more than 30 researchscientists and engineers, and functions one of the key node in Schneider’s global R&D network.

It is an example of how companies take the lead in innovation, and how innovation has to be driven by companies. But supporting companies in their drive for innovation is also the business of the Singapore Government. We do it by maintaining a market-friendly environment, as well as by investing public monies in basic R&D as well as in partnerships with the corporate sector. 

For example, in the manufacturing sector, the Government is investing 3.2 billion Singapore dollars in cross-cutting technologies such as additive manufacturing, digital manufacturing, robotics and automation, as well as advanced materials, under the Research, Innovation and Enterprise (RIE) 2020 plan. 

We are also supporting companies in their efforts to take advantage of Industry 4.0. initiatives such as through the Singapore Smart Industry Readiness Index, which helps companies to understand Industry 4.0 concepts, evaluate the current state of their facilities and develop concrete roadmaps for their 4.0 transformation journey.

Spreading innovation across the economy

But a key angle in Singapore’s innovation journey is also to spread the latest knowledge and best practices well beyond the individual companies at the leading edge of an industry. So I was heartened to know that beyond building up its in-house expertise, Schneider is also contributing to the local innovation ecosystem.

One example is Schneider’s Innovation Hub2 in Singapore, which serves as a technology experience centre and a co-innovation platform for its industry partners and customers. Schneider has also helped 50 SMEs level up in their day-to-day go-to-market operations, and to get onto the digitalisation journey. This has included working with distributors to set up their own e-commerce platforms3, and launching an online knowledge-sharing platform for its partners.

Through these efforts, some of Schneider’s Singapore suppliers have grown and moved abroad with it. For example, Sanwa, a local SME that manufactures plastic products, has moved with Schneider to Indonesia, China and India. Others such as GP Manufacturing and Microcast continue to support Schneider’s manufacturing plants overseas4.

Building skills and human capital

Finally, let me speak briefly on talent and skills development, which is ultimately at the heart of successful innovation. 

This year, Schneider will form a partnership with EDB as part of the SkillsFuture  movement, to launch the Energy Generation Programme – X. This management trainee programme, which includes an overseas assignment at one of Schneider’s other global hubs, will help develop competencies such as global thinking, adaptability, resilience and cultural awareness – which are all clearly essential for future corporate leaders.

In closing, I would like to congratulate the Schneider team again on your new home, and I look forward to many more years of strong partnership. 

[1] The team focuses on the enhancement and connectivity of controllers, communication modules and Input Output modules.

[2] Schneider has three Innovation Hubs, in Singapore, Boston, Paris.

[3] Through Schneider’s efforts, 80 per cent of the SMEs’ business transactions are now digital.

[4] GP Manufacturing is a supplier of metal stamping components, and Microcast produces precision zinc die cast components and tooling. They support Schneider’s manufacturing facilities in Batam, Thailand, Vietnam, China, India and Europe.