DuPont biotech plant opens up high-skill jobs

Enzyme-blending facility will entrench S'pore in global supply chain, says Chan

Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing (far left), with Ms Xue Si-Ying (centre), DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences' innovation leader for Asean, on a tour of DuPont's Dairy and Beverage Lab in Buona Vista yesterday. Mr Chan said Singapore is happy t
Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing (far left), with Ms Xue Si-Ying (centre), DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences' innovation leader for Asean, on a tour of DuPont's Dairy and Beverage Lab in Buona Vista yesterday. Mr Chan said Singapore is happy to continue partnering DuPont in growing its operations, as well as its research and development capabilities here, to serve the regional market. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

A new manufacturing facility set up here by speciality chemicals company DuPont will create new high-skill manufacturing jobs in the energy and chemicals industry, said Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing yesterday.

The enzyme-blending facility will also entrench Singapore in the global supply chain for a variety of products in health and the biosciences, said Mr Chan.

Known as the Singapore Flexiblend plant, the facility will become operational in the second quarter of this year and will produce customised biotechnology solutions for the Asia-Pacific region, said DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences in a statement. The firm did not reveal how much it invested in the plant.

DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences said it hired 96 employees in Singapore, of whom 77 are Singaporeans or permanent residents.

Speaking to reporters yesterday, Mr Chan said Singapore is happy to continue partnering DuPont in growing its operations, as well as its research and development capabilities here, to serve the regional market.

The new DuPont facility is a long-term commitment, said Mr Chan. "It is a sign of confidence in Singapore's strengths and a testament to our position as a leading chemicals hub for the Asia-Pacific region."

He added that there are still growing opportunities for Singapore in the energy and chemicals industry, including in speciality chemicals which are used to create everyday products such as diapers, tyres and surgical masks.

Over the years, the industry here has developed into an extensive chemicals value chain comprising activities such as refining, petrochemicals production and speciality chemicals manufacturing, said Mr Chan.

In 2018, Singapore was the world's seventh-largest exporter of chemicals, according to the World Trade Statistical Review. The following year, it was the fifth-largest petroleum products exporter, according to the BP World Statistical Review.

At present, there is increased demand for sophisticated and cost-efficient chemicals in Asia, with the region projected to account for around 66 per cent of global chemical sales by 2030.

Global chemical companies are looking to invest in Asia to capture this growth and Singapore is well placed to attract these firms with its reliable logistics supply chain and robust intellectual property protections, said Mr Chan.

He noted that last year, French chemicals manufacturer Arkema invested "a few hundred million" in Singapore to manufacture a bio-based polymer using castor oil.

"These are long-term investments that will create good jobs for Singaporeans," he added, noting that on average, the wage for a worker in speciality chemicals is about 50 per cent higher than that of a worker in the manufacturing sector.

To attract more investments from speciality chemical firms, universities and polytechnics here are stepping up the grooming and development of local talent, including research tie-ups between companies and universities and polytechnics, he added.

The Government will also continue to support small and medium-sized enterprises that, in turn, support the operations of leading companies in the speciality chemicals industry, in order to develop a vibrant, wider ecosystem, said Mr Chan.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 14, 2021, with the headline 'DuPont biotech plant opens up high-skill jobs'. Print Edition | Subscribe