Briton made honorary citizen for contributions to Singapore's economy and biomed industry

Sir Andrew Witty, former chief executive officer of GlaxoSmithKline plc, was conferred the award by President Halimah Yacob in a ceremony at the Istana on June 26, 2018.
Sir Andrew Witty, former chief executive officer of GlaxoSmithKline plc, was conferred the award by President Halimah Yacob in a ceremony at the Istana on June 26, 2018.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - A British business executive was made an honorary citizen of Singapore on Tuesday (June 26) for his contributions to Singapore's economic development, and the growth of the Republic's biomedical sciences industry.

Sir Andrew Witty, 53, former chief executive officer of UK pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK), was conferred the award by President Halimah Yacob in a ceremony at the Istana.

The Honorary Citizen Award is the highest form of recognition for a non-Singaporean. The Government gives it to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to Singapore's growth and development.

On being conferred the award, Sir Andrew said: "I am delighted and humbled to accept the Honorary Citizen Award today. Living and working in and with Singapore has been one of my most rewarding experiences, and I have been delighted to see the biomedical sector expand so much over the last 20 years."

He lived in Singapore from 1999 to 2003 as GSK's senior vice-president for Asia-Pacific.

One of his contributions included establishing a joint 10-year road map with the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), when he was appointed CEO of GSK in 2009.

As part of the road map, Sir Andrew championed the establishment of a $50-million GSK-EDB endowment fund, among other investments, to support innovation and research in the areas of green and sustainable manufacturing, and healthcare policy.

Singapore then became the choice location for incubating and industrialising GSK's new manufacturing technologies to transform how medicines are produced. This helped Singapore develop regional thought leadership in regulatory policies for drug approvals.

EDB chairman Beh Swan Gin said: "Singapore's biomedical sciences industry cluster, and GSK in Singapore, have grown hand-in-hand through the decades. Sir Andrew was a key driving force for this growth throughout his time in GSK, and the strong partnership between Singapore and GSK continues to this day."

GSK's cumulative investments in Singapore have since exceeded $2.5 billion. It has more than 1,700 employees, making GSK the largest employer in Singapore's pharmaceutical industry.

Sir Andrew has also been a member of EDB's International Advisory Council since 2011, where he contributed to discussions that helped shape Singapore's future economic strategies.

He retired as CEO of GSK last year, and will take on the role of CEO of Optum, a healthcare delivery business of United Healthcare Group, on July 1.