Agilent launches $8.6m training centre

American laboratory equipment maker Agilent Technologies has pumped US$6 million (S$8.6 million) into a training centre in Singapore - its first such facility in Asia.

The Yishun site will offer more than 200 technology courses to employees and customers, including food safety controllers and drugmakers around the region.

About 600 engineers and 500 customers have been trained at Agilent University since it opened in April. Course fees range from $300 a day to $4,000 for a few weeks, and fees are bundled into the price of new instruments.

Agilent Singapore is a Workforce Development Agency-approved training organisation.

"With our current offerings, we were just talking to (the Economic Development Board) about evaluating the future potential to see how we can integrate our training package into the SkillsFuture scheme," said Mr Chow Woai Sheng, Agilent Technologies Singapore general manager, at the centre's official launch yesterday.

Food forensics is one of the fastest-growing markets for Agilent, along with biopharmaceuticals and cancer diagnostics.

"Food safety is a growing application but even faster now, people are starting to recognise the growing amount of counterfeiting that goes on in the food supply," said chief executive Mike McMullen, who was in town for the launch.

"My favourite application is bird's nest soup - the counterfeiter will inject water to make it heavier so it looks like there's more there and they get more for the raw material. We have equipment that uses forensics to test if there's been any adulteration," he said.

Some 40 per cent of the global food business sits in Asia, he noted.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 07, 2015, with the headline 'Agilent launches $8.6m training centre'. Print Edition | Subscribe