P&G opens S$250m Innovation Centre in S’pore

P&G opens S$250m Innovation Centre in S’pore
A perfumer at the P&G Singapore Innovation Centre. The facility is the company’s third in Asia. Photo: Procter & Gamble
Published: 4:12 AM, March 29, 2014

SINGAPORE – United States consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble (P&G) opened an innovation centre in Singapore yesterday, further cementing the Republic’s position as a regional hub for consumer businesses and research and development (R&D).

The P&G Singapore Innovation Centre at Biopolis, the company’s third in Asia, is the largest investment in a private research facility here at S$250 million. The opening comes at a time when demand for consumer goods is expanding in the region, supported by population and economic growth. Singapore is already P&G’s regional headquarters for the Asia-Pacific region.

The facility will support the company’s product development in the areas of beauty, home care, as well as personal health and grooming, with research done here being incorporated into producing products for brands such as Pantene and SK-II.

Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, said P&G’s focus on R&D is in line with the Government’s aim to boost growth in this area.

“Like P&G, Singapore is also deeply committed to R&D. It has to be a key part of our ecosystem — the way companies create new business opportunities and manage costs and the way we create good jobs for Singaporeans,” he said at the opening ceremony yesterday.

“We have made progress. We have doubled the number of research scientists and engineers in Singapore over the past 10 years to about 30,000 in 2012. Seventy per cent of these … are locals; 1,400 new R&D jobs have been created in the consumer businesses industry alone,” he added.

P&G’s research department employed about 40 people only three to four years ago, but it has since grown to 500 engineers, researchers and support staff, said Mr James Kaw, Director of the Singapore Innovation Centre. The firm plans to hire more.

“We recruited from Singapore universities and we’ve been very pleased … We’ll continue to hire, but it will not be at the big pace we hired in the past three years. We want to build up capacity so that innovation output starts showing and that’s our focus in the next several years,” he said.

The centre, occupying more than 340,000 sq ft over six floors, will cover more than 18 fields of study — from seeking consumer insights to developing and testing new prototypes, as well as designing new packaging. Locating it in Singapore gives the company easy access to the fastest-growing markets for consumer products, said P&G Asia’s Communications Director Damon Jones.

“Asia is our fastest-growing region and so, a big part of what we’re doing here is preparing for the future. So, it’s not just about products for next week or next month, we’re looking at a five- to 10-year horizon and really having a full pipeline,” he said.

For Singapore, the continued expansion of P&G’s operations here helps it to develop a greater presence in the consumer business industry.

“We aspire for Singapore to be a hub for top consumer companies like P&G to grow their global brands,” said Mr Tharman.