S'pore in running to house Dyson's education campus

Dyson CEO Jim Rowan says the privately owned home appliance manufacturer has no plans to be listed.
Dyson CEO Jim Rowan says the privately owned home appliance manufacturer has no plans to be listed.

Singapore is in the running to house tech giant Dyson's first education campus outside of Britain, chief executive Jim Rowan said yesterday.

He added that the firm has applied in Britain for degree-giving powers: "I'm hopeful that we will get that quite soon, and once we (do) we will be one of the six private universities in the UK.

"Singapore will be a consideration. We haven't made a decision on where (to set up yet)."

Dyson said in January that it will move its corporate headquarters to Singapore, following an earlier announcement last October that it will build its electric cars here. The first vehicle is set to hit the road in 2021.

Dyson founder James Dyson said in 2016 that he would commit £15 million (S$25.5 million) to set up an institute of technology on the company's campus in Wiltshire, where undergraduates can work towards an engineering degree from Warwick University.

He added that students do not need to pay any fees; they will be given a salary to work with Dyson's engineers in a move to grow engineering skills in Britain.

The four-year programme started in 2017 with a cohort of 33 students, Warwick University said, noting that more than 850 people had applied.

Mr Rowan, who was speaking at the launch of Dyson Demo Store - Beauty Lab at Funan, said: "We hope that they will stay with us (after they graduate), but... some of these young engineers will have a great idea and they want to start their own business."

He noted that the graduates will not need to pay back a bond.

He said "the competition (for talent) in Singapore is not any tougher than, say, in the UK".

"Hiring (for) the skills that we need is tight everywhere," he added, pointing out that engineers and scientists make up about half of Dyson's headcount.

Mr Rowan said Dyson has been hiring high-quality graduates in Singapore whom it can quickly train. The company has about 1,100 employees here, with plans to expand its Singapore-based engineering team by 50 per cent and to double its size at the Singapore Technology Centre at Singapore Science Park. The new centre will reportedly create an additional 190 jobs over the next five years.

Mr Rowan said the privately owned home appliance manufacturer has no plans to be listed. "One of the real benefits of Dyson is that it is a private company, and it is owned entirely by the Dyson family. There's no annoying stand-off (with) shareholders."

He reiterated that Dyson's move here is part of its strategy to be closer to most of its customers and its manufacturing operations, refuting earlier reports that it had moved because of tax reasons.

The Financial Times reported in January that Dyson may have the luxury of not paying corporate tax in Singapore following a combination of incentive schemes.

But Mr Rowan called the tax factor "negligible". "A lot of (Dyson's) growth is coming out of Asia," he said. "The gravitational pull is towards Asia."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 10, 2019, with the headline 'S'pore in running to house Dyson's education campus'. Print Edition | Subscribe