Speech by Ms Low Yen Ling, Parliamentary Secretary, at the Signing of the Memorandum of Cooperation between Singapore Polytechnic and BASF South East Asia, and the Launch of the BASF Newtrition® Lab

Published Date: 04 January 2017 12:00 AM

News Speeches

Mr Soh Wai Wah, Principal/CEO of Singapore Polytechnic,

Mr Francois Scheffler, Vice President, BASF, Global Human Nutrition & Pharma Solutions,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen

1. A very good morning to all. It is my pleasure to be here with you today to witness the signing of the Memorandum of Cooperation between Singapore Polytechnic (SP) and BASF South East Asia, and the launch of the BASF’s regional laboratory in SP, the Newtrition® Lab Asia Pacific. We all know health is the real wealth. In this age, we are all concerned with health and wellness because we are what we eat. Nutrition is key to health and wellness. It is therefore timely to witness the opening of this facility here in SP.

Accelerating Innovation through Industry-IHL Partnerships

2. The partnership between SP and BASF goes a long way. They first launched the Food Innovation and Resource Centre (FIRC) in 2007 where SP provided BASF with consultancy and technical services in areas such as new product development. The partnership has flourished and I would like to congratulate the two partners for taking this next step to deepen their cooperation in support of growth and innovation in the food manufacturing sector. This is an important sector, and was one of the first few sectors in which the Industry Transformation Map (ITM) was launched.

3. SP has been the sector’s constant and strong support for innovative product development. For example, at their inaugural Food Innovation Day in May last year, SP showcased some very creative products that were developed for the needs of different age groups, such as instant chicken rice, kaya and salted egg dip for working adults, and healthier convenient options for elderly consumers. The products developed for the elderly included instant low GI noodle in chicken broth, as well as a rice seasoning sprinkle with flavours such as salmon and tom yum that catered to older taste buds.

4. With the launch of the Newtrition Laboratory, the industry can look forward to more healthy innovations for better nutrition not just for Singapore, but for Asia. The laboratory will have testing equipment to examine ingredients in food products such as dietary supplements, functional foods and beverages. It will also focus on research and co-development of products with BASF’s customers in Asia Pacific to meet the health and nutrition needs of consumers in the region.

5. The growing affluence of Asia’s middle class is boosting the demand for premium, healthier food. To effectively capture these opportunities, companies need to differentiate themselves by innovating for Asian palettes. It is about understanding what works for the different palettes. If companies get it right, the payoff can be really huge. BASF’s collaboration with SP reaffirms Singapore’s position as the food and nutrition hub for Asia. The Newtrition Laboratory is an excellent example of how we combine industry expertise with local talent to accelerate innovation. To this end, companies will benefit from Singapore’s access to insights and R&D across the region, while students will also be able to gain industry experience in tackling regional problem statements. It is not just studying to pass examinations but working with industry to solve real-world problems.

SkillsFuture @ SP

6. I wish to thank our polytechnics for striving hard to ensure our students get the opportunities to gain relevant and authentic industry experience so that they are prepared to contribute to the sector when they join the workforce. As the Sector Coordinator for Food Manufacturing, SP has worked closely with stakeholders such as SPRING Singapore, SkillsFuture Singapore, and other education institutions to identify the current and future skills needed for the food manufacturing industry. These skills were mapped out when the ITM was developed by working closely with the industry and unions. They also work together to align the education and training programmes to industry needs.

7. Upon graduation, our students will also have the chance to hone their skills on the job through the SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programme (ELP) in Food Manufacturing. The Applied Study in Polytechnics and ITE Review (ASPIRE) was a precursor to the SkillsFuture movement to learn how the apprenticeship framework could be developed into the ELP. SkillsFuture is really about skills mastery and passion. When we are passionate about what we do, we will find the extra motivation to do well. Under the ELP, participants would be attached to the company from Monday to Thursday and return to school on Friday. Whatever they study would be related to what they do at work so that they can immediately apply what they have learned. This was the first sector to roll out the ELP for fresh polytechnic graduates. By April 2017, the programme would be into its third run. Well done, SP, congratulations. The ELP allows students to pick up and deepen their skills in crucial areas that underpin the sector’s next phase of growth, such as in food product innovation, food processing, and food safety and quality management. Besides receiving structured training developed by the polytechnics for their workplaces, and the students also embark on company-specific capstone projects supervised by mentors at work and their SP facilitators.

8. Last November, 18 students from the first cohort successfully completed the 18-month ELP for Food Manufacturing, and received the Advanced Diploma in Applied Food Science awarded by SP. I am very happy to hear that today, 16 of them are continuing to work for the companies they served in their ELP. This tells us that it is the right formula because we want them to stay and deepen their skills. One of them is Ms. Nurliyana Rahim. From her experience, the ELP was a great opportunity to enhance her skills and knowledge and stay relevant in the dynamic food sector. The programme gave her in-depth knowledge of the different types of packaging, as well as novel methods of food preservation. If we can do a quantum leap in food preservation, it can enhance productivity greatly. One example is the food vending machine selling hor fun which is possible because of food preservation and food packaging. During the programme, she also enhanced soft skills in presenting and formulating ideas, and communication with colleagues and senior management. Ms. Nurliyana and her friends are excellent examples of how students can start their careers and contribute to the industry while deepening their skills at the same time.

Conclusion

9. The signing of a Memorandum of Cooperation between BASF and SP, as well as the location of the BASF Laboratory at SP, are steps in the right direction to keep our institutions up-to-date on the needs of this important industry. This synergy and collaboration between industry and students in real projects will spur more research and innovation, deepen skills, and develop creative food and nutrition solutions. Together, SP and BASF’s initiatives are in line with the Government’s plan to help transform the food manufacturing industry through shared research, production facilities and technology, so as to boost productivity growth for the sector.

10. I encourage our institutions to keep up the good work in building partnerships with the industry. I would like to also urge companies to follow BASF’s example in sharing their expertise and continue working closely with our educational institutions. Together, we can stay relevant and forge new growth for the food manufacturing sector.

11. Thank you.

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