P&G to invest $12m to grow new Singapore businesses

Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam (centre) at Procter & Gamble's Singapore Innovation Center's fifth anniversary celebration. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

SINGAPORE - Consumer goods company P&G is setting aside $12 million to grow at least three new Singapore-based businesses that are to be scaled globally.

These could involve new brands, technology platforms and business models, the company said on Thursday (March 7).

It said that $8 million from the amount will go to a seed fund for a team of employees to work on projects and with local enterprises on their business ideas.

The investment is part of GrowthWorks, a venture-building unit within the company which already has 130 ongoing experiments based in the United States.

It also marks the 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.

"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, which is made in partnership with Singapore's Economic Development Board.

This comes as countries grapple with rapid urbanisation, ageing populations and resource scarcity, she said, noting that such trends and digital disruption shape the company's approach to innovation.

Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who also spoke at the launch, noted that P&G's partnerships with smaller firms here are already helping to build Singapore's innovation capacity, citing its collaboration with medical devices manufacturer Racer Technology in a magnetic wand for skincare brand SK-II to increase the absorption of its product's ingredients.

On the move to set up GrowthWorks, he noted that this appears to be a move to "internalise disruption" and scale new businesses up through Singapore.

The Singapore Innovation Centre employs staff including researchers and engineers, and has facilities to test and launch products more quickly.

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