Aerospace firm Thales adds new research lab to S'pore ops

From far left: Thales' senior executive vice-president of international development Pascale Sourisse; Mr Kevin Chow, CEO of Thales in Singapore; Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing; and Thales' vice-president of digital transformation Oliv
From far left: Thales' senior executive vice-president of international development Pascale Sourisse; Mr Kevin Chow, CEO of Thales in Singapore; Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing; and Thales' vice-president of digital transformation Olivier Flous viewing a presentation of TEACH-R, a cloud-based Web application.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

'Digital factory' aims to produce data-based solutions for region

French aerospace company Thales has added a new "digital factory" to its stable of research labs in Singapore, with the aim of producing high-tech data-based solutions for the region.

Launching it yesterday, Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing described the research lab as a microcosm of what he hoped Singapore would embark on in the future.

From next year, the lab will house around 30 experts drawn from a mix of nationalities, including Singaporeans.

The Parisian company, which first set up shop in Singapore in 1973, has around 700 employees here. It aims to grow this figure to around 2,000 after it completes the acquisition of the Netherlands-based digital security firm Gemalto in the first quarter of next year.

The new Thales lab in Cross Street represents part of a €20 million (S$31 million) investment in Singapore over the next five years.

Staff numbers at the lab are expected to increase in that time and Thales hopes to draw from a talent pool of data scientists, software engineers, designers and cyber security experts from the region.

These specialists will produce digital solutions, using technologies such as big data, artificial intelligence and cloud computing to solve problems faced by Singapore firms, and test them to see if they can be deployed worldwide.

  • $31m

    The new Thales lab represents part of a €20 million investment in Singapore over the next five years, and staff numbers at the facilities are expected to increase in that time.

TESTING ORIGINAL PRODUCTS

What we want to do is to work with our Singapore customers to test these original products, and then to implement them worldwide to serve a global market.

MR OLIVIER FLOUS, Thales' vice-president of digital transformation, on the digital solutions his firm aims to produce here.

PART OF A WIDER NETWORK

We see exactly the model that we will be embarking on. In this factory, we see Singaporeans working with talented people from overseas and around the world as part of a wider network. There are a lot of opportunities for Singaporeans to participate in such learning and the finding of solutions.

MR CHAN CHUN SING, Minister for Trade and Industry, saying the new Thales lab adds to Singapore's digital capabilities.

Thales' vice-president of digital transformation Olivier Flous said: "What we want to do is to work with our Singapore customers to test these original products, and then to implement them worldwide to serve a global market."

The company's customers include Singapore Airlines, SMRT, Changi Airport and the Singapore Armed Forces.

Singapore was not a surprising choice for the group to place its third digital factory because of its heavy presence here and the proximity to its Asian customers, said senior executive vice-president of international development Pascale Sourisse. Thales' other digital factories are in France and Canada.

Mr Chan said the new Thales lab adds to Singapore's digital capabilities. "We see exactly the model that we will be embarking on," he said on the sidelines of a tour of the facilities.

"In this factory, we see Singaporeans working with talented people from overseas and around the world as part of a wider network. There are a lot of opportunities for Singaporeans to participate in such learning and the finding of solutions."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 30, 2018, with the headline 'Aerospace firm Thales adds new research lab to S'pore ops'. Print Edition | Subscribe