Bigger role for Singapore in water sector with Danish firm's initiatives

Mr Goh of the EDB greets Dr Ole Svenstrup Peterson, the incoming director of R&D at DHI Singapore. With them is Ms Groen, DHI's managing director. The Danish water and environmental firm is set to expand its R&D centre here.
Mr Goh of the EDB greets Dr Ole Svenstrup Peterson, the incoming director of R&D at DHI Singapore. With them is Ms Groen, DHI's managing director. The Danish water and environmental firm is set to expand its R&D centre here.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

A global database to help decision- makers manage the world's ever- more precious water, powerful and cheap sensors for flood protection, and opportunities for Singapore water companies to market their technology in Europe.

This is just a taste of what's to come for Singapore as the country continues to grow its international role in the water industry.

Danish water and environmental company DHI Singapore announced these initiatives earlier this month at the Singapore International Water Week, for the next phase of a partnership with the Economic Development Board (EDB) which began in 2008.

DHI Singapore and its private and public collaborators will invest at least $15 million over the next three years, with EDB contributing about a quarter of the amount.

Mr Goh Chee Kiong, executive director of EDB's clean tech, said: "DHI's continued investment is testament to Singapore's global leadership position in the water industry. With its market access platforms and experience in bringing new products to commercialisation, DHI's research facility will enhance Singapore's water technology ecosystem."

For example, the WaterData initiative will bring together many different kinds of data from around the world, such as rainfall, temperature and water quality, under a single database located in Singapore.

This will make the data much more accessible to water managers, said DHI.

The company will also expand its Singapore-developed concept DHI Sense, the first it has developed entirely outside of Denmark.

The aim of DHI Sense is not only to build affordable sensors that monitor the many characteristics of water, but also to make sense of the data through computer modelling.

DHI Singapore said it would look into how this could support the Government's Smart Nation vision by improving urban water management. For example, flood prediction can be enhanced through sensors that provide real-time spatial data of water movement.

DHI will also help provide a "gateway for Singapore companies back to the European market" via its network of offices in Europe, said Dr Jacob Tornfeldt Sorensen, director of DHI's water and environment research centre. This will help start-ups and small and medium- sized enterprises export their water technology overseas.

DHI Singapore will also be expanding its research and development centre in Singapore, adding 60 personnel to its 110-strong research team here over the next five years.

The company's managing director, Ms Stephanie Groen, said that Singapore's strong water culture and thriving business platform have been instrumental in DHI's success in Singapore.

Since DHI first came to the Republic in 2003, it has increased its staff from six to almost 200 today, and continues to provide marine environmental impact assessment and monitoring services.

Dr Sorensen said: "The targeted efforts to make Singapore the South-east Asian regional water, environment and clean-tech hub have been key to our success and decision to significantly strengthen our R&D investment in Singapore."

In fact, DHI Singapore is the company's only overseas site that possesses its full range of core technical competencies. It is also Singapore's largest private water research facility.

"Singapore is DHI's 'home away from home'," he added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 22, 2016, with the headline 'Bigger role for S'pore in water sector with Danish firm's initiatives'. Print Edition | Subscribe