For European companies seeking to make inroads into South-east Asia's advanced manufacturing industry, Singapore serves as an ideal springboard to the region, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon said at an Industry 4.0 forum during the Hannover Messe trade show on Wednesday.
Not only is Singapore the European Union's 15th largest trade partner globally, and its single largest Asean trading partner, a free trade agreement between the two is also in the works to improve Singapore and European companies' access to each other's market.
Other advantages are the Republic's central geographic location and connectivity within the region, making it an ideal location for companies seeking to expand into Asean.
In addition, Singapore is building on its strengths, such as its reputation for best-in-class manufacturing and a strong intellectual property protection regime, by developing a "Disneyland" for the advanced manufacturing ecosystem.
The 600 hectare Jurong Innovation District will serve as a one-stop campus for advanced manufacturing, housing research institutions, industry enablers and advanced manufacturing factories.
It will also serve as a test bed for technology and solutions providers and manufacturers alike.
"Look upon it as the Disneyland equivalent for all manufacturers out there, whether you're a technology provider, a solutions provider or manufacturer looking at taking your manufacturing to the next level.
"The Jurong Innovation District will be the next playground for advanced manufacturing," said Dr Koh.
"Just like all your kids want to go to Disneyland, I hope you will come to the Jurong Innovation District," he added.
Industry players from Europe will be able to get a taste of Asean's potential at the second edition of Industrial Transformation Asia Pacific (ITAP) in October.
Hosted by Singapore, this Asian edition of Hannover Messe provides a platform for companies from all over the world to build relationships with players in the rapidly growing Asean region.
"In a short couple of years, we estimate the middle class will occupy more than two thirds of the population of Asean," Dr Koh said.
"This represents significant growth potential in areas spanning mobility, energy, healthcare and consumer goods and products."
In this light, ITAP is a golden opportunity for industry players to network and find new growth avenues through partnerships with suppliers within the Asean region.
Dr Koh said: "It's a place where you can sense the opportunities and hopefully translate them into real tangible business outcomes."