P&G to invest $12m in growing local businesses

Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam was the guest of honour yesterday at the fifth anniversary of P&G's Singapore Innovation Centre, where he was joined by (from left) A*Star managing director Raj Thampuran; Ms Kathy Fish, P&G's chief resear
Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam was the guest of honour yesterday at the fifth anniversary of P&G's Singapore Innovation Centre, where he was joined by (from left) A*Star managing director Raj Thampuran; Ms Kathy Fish, P&G's chief research, development and innovation officer; Mr Magesvaran Suranjan, P&G's president of Asia-Pacific and Indian sub-continent, Middle East and Africa; and Ms Thien Kwee Eng, the Economic Development Board's assistant managing director.ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

Aim is to grow at least three with billion-dollar potential; investment part of venture-building unit GrowthWorks

Consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble (P&G) is setting aside $12 million to grow at least three new Singapore-based businesses that will be scaled globally.

These could involve new brands, technology platforms and business models, it said yesterday.

P&G - the parent company of hair-care brand Pantene and cosmetics brand SK-II, among others - added that $8 million of the investment will go to a seed fund for a team of employees to work on projects and collaborate with local enterprises on business ideas.

The investment is part of GrowthWorks, a venture-building unit within P&G that was started last year and already has 130 ongoing experiments in the United States.

The remaining $4 million will go towards setting up the GrowthWorks team in Singapore.

GrowthWorks' Singapore launch marks P&G's largest commitment to the programme outside the US.

Announcing the move at the fifth anniversary of P&G's Singapore Innovation Centre in Buona Vista, the company's chief research, development and innovation officer Kathy Fish said: "GrowthWorks brings together the entrepreneurial spirit of a lean start-up and the scale and resources of a corporation."

  • $8m

  • Amount that will go to a seed fund for P&G employees to work on projects and collaborate with local enterprises on business ideas.

"We aspire to innovate faster for our Asian consumers and to continue contributing to the innovation ecosystem here in Singapore," she said of the investment.

The investment - made in partnership with the Economic Development Board - comes at a time when countries are grappling with rapid urbanisation, ageing populations and resource scarcity, Ms Fish said, noting that such trends and digital disruption shape P&G's approach to innovation.

Mr James Kaw, the centre's director, said the goal is to create 10 new projects in two years, which will be incubated here.

"Among these 10 projects, we hope to scale at least three new businesses with billion-dollar potential."

But he added that there is currently no fixed timeline for the set-up of the GrowthWorks team here.

Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who also spoke at the launch, said P&G's partnerships with smaller local firms are already helping to build Singapore's innovation capacity.

For example, it collaborated with healthcare manufacturer Racer Technology in a magnetic wand for skincare brand SK-II to increase the absorption of its products' ingredients, said Mr Tharman, who is also Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies.

On setting up GrowthWorks, he described it as a move to "internalise disruption" - not just innovating for existing businesses, but also growing new ones and scaling them up through Singapore.

P&G's centre employs about 500 researchers, engineers and PhD holders, and has facilities to test and launch products more quickly.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 08, 2019, with the headline 'P&G to invest $12m in growing local businesses'. Print Edition | Subscribe