Precision engineering to get more tie-ups between SMEs and research bodies

Mr Iswaran checking out an exhibit at the Precision Engineering Centre of Innovation conference yesterday, where he stressed the importance of technology and innovation for the sector to grow and stay competitive.
Mr Iswaran checking out an exhibit at the Precision Engineering Centre of Innovation conference yesterday, where he stressed the importance of technology and innovation for the sector to grow and stay competitive.PHOTO: A*STAR

The precision engineering sector is set to see increased collaboration between small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and research institutes in an effort to foster more innovation and development.

"Precision engineering is the backbone of the manufacturing industry, serving a wide variety of clusters such as electronics, aerospace, automotive, marine, oil and gas, and medtech," said Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S. Iswaran.

He was speaking at the Precision Engineering Centre of Innovation (Pecoi) annual conference held at the Devan Nair Employment and Employability Institute yesterday.

The conference introduced initiatives that are in line with sectoral upgrading plans through the $4.5 billion Industry Transformation Maps. The ITM is a national strategy to promote growth and competitiveness in this sector announced in the Budget earlier this year.

In his speech, Mr Iswaran stressed the importance of technology and innovation for the sector. He said: "To grow and remain competitive, the industry must continue its transformation journey. It must embrace technology and innovation."

One of the initiatives introduced at the conference was an online portal that links various players in the industry to facilitate collaborative innovation. The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) Collaborative Commerce Marketplace will enable local small and medium-sized manufacturing companies to showcase their capabilities while multinational companies source for them. It also allows research institutes to seek and bridge technological gaps within specific industries.

For SMEs such as Wah Son Engineering, an aerospace tooling manufacturer serving global clients like GE Aviation and Rolls-Royce, such collaboration would allow it to "combine fundamental craftsmen skills and advanced technology that are required in precision engineering", said Ms Lim Hee Joo, executive director of Wah Son Engineering.

She credited the steady expansion of the firm to its involvement in the Pecoi.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 13, 2016, with the headline 'Precision engineering to get more tie-ups between SMEs and research bodies'. Print Edition | Subscribe