The opening “is an acknowledgement of the importance that DuPont holds for Singapore and Asean as it continues to develop, and DuPont continues to invest in the region to take advantage of the people that are here and the very great market here,” said chief science and technology officer Douglas Muzyka at the opening ceremony.
The 11,000 square-metre headquarters will house DuPont’s administrative offices and development labs across its agriculture and nutrition, bio-based industrials and nutrition and health divisions.
“This centre, combining laboratories and a business environment, is so critically important to our business future. We can’t exist without the two coming together to create value in the marketplace,” added Muzyka.
There is no doubt about Singapore’s massive ability to coax multinationals into either establishing regional offices in its sprawling technology parks or expanding their existing presence there, as DuPont has done and the likes of DSM did before it with innovation centres and divisional headquarters.
Indeed, DuPont now shares an office block on the Biopolis campus with a Nestlé research centre. It is also a short walk away from Singapore’s pioneering A*STAR commercial research agency, which works with a number of global food companies by providing intellectual, human and industrial capital.
It is not DuPont’s first foray into Singapore—it set up an office there 43 years ago. Rather it is establishing a full-service base to serve the wider Asean region, where it now has eight offices and 13 production plants across its various businesses.
With a population of more than 620m and rapidly rising middle-classes, Asean is prompting companies to consider how they can organise themselves more effectively to serve the region, according to Yeoh Keat Chuan, managing director of the Singapore Economic Development Board.
“Singapore’s strong interdisciplinary research capabilities, connectivity and understanding of Asean enables companies like DuPont, who co-locate their commercial and innovation functions, to accelerate the development of solutions and get to market faster,” Yeoh added.
DuPont’s nutrition and health division’s development lab will focus on localising the company’s ingredient offerings, according to Li Yongjing, its regional president, who was at the opening ceremony.
In recent years, multinational suppliers have been racing to tailor their global ingredients portfolio not only to local tastes but also to Asian physiology.
“[People in Asean] want local-tasting food, and we want to help local partners to develop their businesses,” said Li, who will leave DuPont’s Shanghai innovation centre for a week each month to oversee the Singapore business.
The lab will transform consumer insight into technical solutions while improving the time it takes to develop products in response to customer requests. Without such facilities in the region, DuPont would be forced to call on its European research centre in Copenhagen or others that are not so well versed in Asian tastes for solutions.
“Whereas doing great science is stimulating and wonderful in itself, meeting the needs of customers is fundamental,” said Muzyka. “So this centre is located at the centre of opportunities, where customers can articulate the needs that they have. The centre will be a critical hub for the entire region of Asean.”