Inventiveness, enthusiasm of local workers clinched Dyson's expansion in S'pore: Sir James Dyson

Dyson founder James Dyson announced that the company would commit $1.5 billion in Singapore over the next four years. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - Dyson's expansion in Singapore was made possible by the "wonderful inventiveness and enthusiasm" of young local engineers and scientists working for the British consumer electronics multinational, said founder Sir James Dyson on Friday (March 25).

"You can feel the ambition of this ingenious country," he said at an event to mark the official opening of Dyson's new global headquarters at the iconic St James Power Station in the HarbourFront district.

"It reaffirms our belief that Singapore is the right place for high-tech, research-intensive businesses such as Dyson."

The inventor and billionaire entrepreneur noted that Singapore stands at the centre of Dyson's global supply chain, and is also where the company researches, designs and develops products, such as the vacuum cleaners and hair stylers the company is best known for.

"For these reasons, it's our global headquarters," said Mr Dyson.

He also announced that Dyson would commit $1.5 billion in Singapore over the next four years - as part of a $4.9 billion global investment programme - and hire more than 250 engineers and scientists here in fields such as robotics, machine learning, AI, sensing and vision systems.

The $1.5 billion sum will also support ongoing university research programmes to drive technology development.

Dyson's new 110,000 sq ft base at St James Power Station will house 18 state-of-the-art research laboratories to help develop new technology products.

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Technology company Dyson has officially moved into its new global headquarters in Singapore at the historic St James Power Station, with Dyson founder James Dyson and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong opening the premises on Friday (March 25).

Employees like senior robotics engineer Saiful Jumari, 29, told The Straits Times a pull factor of being at Dyson was the chance to work on new, innovative and "unexpected" products.

The 29-year-old joined Dyson in 2018 after obtaining a physics degree and was later sponsored by the company to complete a robotics nanodegree.

His work programming intelligent robots that respond autonomously to their environment was described by PM Lee Hsien Loong as "cutting edge" in his speech.

"If you look at Dyson products, the first time the bladeless fan was introduced, I heard people didn't even know it was a fan," he explained. "So I look forward to working on products that are not out there in the market, and the first time you unveil them in public, people will probably be like 'what on earth is that?'"

Senior robotics engineer Saiful Jumari said a pull factor of being at Dyson was the chance to work on new, innovative and "unexpected" products. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

The home appliance giant has been expanding its footprint here since landing on Singapore's shores in 2004.

The city-state serves as a hub for its research and engineering teams, as well as commercial, advanced manufacturing and supply chain operations.

It opened a studio at the Nanyang Technological University in 2018 to provide students with the equipment and environment to develop engineering solutions to real-world problems.

Dyson has been expanding its footprint here since landing on Singapore's shores in 2004. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

This year, Dyson's charity, the James Dyson Foundation, announced a $3 million investment to fund multidisciplinary engineering facilities in Singapore universities and a mentorship scheme with Dyson engineers based here.

Singapore is also the lead manufacturing site for the Hyperdymium motors at the heart of most Dyson devices. The company has been producing digital motors in Singapore since 2004, and opened its first office with 10 employees here at Science Park in 2007.

Today, Dyson also runs an advanced motor manufacturing facility near the Boon Lay area, and a technology centre at Science Park for digital, engineering and cybersecurity activities. Dyson currently employs over 1,400 people in Singapore, of which 560 are engineers and scientists.

Dyson will hire more than 250 engineers and scientists in fields such as robotics, machine learning, AI, sensing and vision systems. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Mr Dyson said on Friday that the company is looking at more spaces including a factory in Tuas to manufacture "a new battery".

Before its current incarnation, the waterfront St James Power Station was built in 1927 as Singapore's first coal-fired power plant, before becoming an automated warehouse in 1984 and subsequently a popular nightlife spot in 2006.

It was gazetted as a national monument in 2009, and was secured as head office by Dyson in 2019, shortly after the company abandoned widely-publicised plans to build an electric car in Singapore.

Construction to restore the building and to increase its floor area began in late 2018 and was completed early last year, and Dyson employees subsequently moved into the complex.

Correction note: An earlier version of this story said Dyson has a new 10,000 sq ft base at St James Power Station. It should be 110,000 sq ft. We are sorry for the error.

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