The move, in partnership with Singapore’s science research agency A*STAR, will have a focus on healthy ageing at a time when longer life expectancy and a marked decline in fertility rates have brought about rapidly ageing global population.
Nestlé is expected to increase its headcount at the research centre by 25 over the next three to five years, including key positions such as the head of Nestlé’s healthy ageing programme, Fabrizio Agrigoni, who heads the centre.
“The Nestlé and A*STAR partnership has shown significant results and great potential for both partners. The collaboration and the founding of our healthy ageing programme also marks the start of a new drive of scientific innovation efforts which support unmet nutritional needs of Asia’s ageing population,” said Dr Arigoni.
With the number of Asian seniors expected to reach 1.2bn and account for 60% of the world’s population of older people by 2050, Nestlé aims to study the role of nutrition in geriatric health at the new Singapore centre.
Nestlé has collaborated with A*STAR, Singapore’s lead commercial research agency, since 2011 on research surrounding food science and technology, materials science and packaging, nutrition, health and behaviour.
The partnership has also increasingly moved towards biotransformation—the use of natural processes, such as fermentation, to transform raw materials into ingredients with nutritional or functional benefits.
Singapore has developed a strong reputation for fostering collaborations between academia and food manufacturers in recent years, with the goal of transforming itself into an Asia-wide food development hub.
From diabetic-friendly bread to cake suitable for kidney patients on haemodialysis, new food products have been formulated by scientists in the country to make it easier for the health-conscious and those with chronic diseases to boost their nutrition.
Singapore’s focus on higher education, science and industrial development cemented the country’s position as a research base for Nestlé, and will act as a bridge for research centres in China and Japan, said Stefan Catsicas, Nestlé’s global chief technology officer.
“Our priority is to participate in building an unprecedented ecosystem where the government, academia and industry worlds come together to improve people’s quality of life,” said Professor Catsicas.
“Through open innovation with key players in the region, Nestlé believes that nutritional science will provide enhanced solutions that support health and wellness.”
Lim Chuan Poh, A*STAR’s chairman, added: “We are delighted at Nestlé’s expansion in Singapore. As one of our valued partners, Nestlé has been instrumental in collaborating with A*STAR to significantly grow our research in food and nutrition in Singapore.”