In his National Day Rally address, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong spoke about the recovery of the local as well as global economy. Despite having to restrict re-opening measures between May to August 2021, the Singapore has raised its growth forecast for this year to 6-7%.
As Singapore has vaccinated more than 80% of the population, PM Lee went on to mention that “now we must change gears”. He also talked about the three things we must do to sustain longer term growth: (1) Preserve our status as a business hub; (2) Attract more foreign investments; (3) And grow Singapore companies and entrepreneurs.
He also reserved special praise for several companies – 11 in total – during this year’s National Day Rally speech.
Pfizer, “the company that makes the vaccine” as PM Lee said has been in Singapore for a long time. According to Pfizer, its 2021 sales of the vaccines will top $33.5 billion, and it shows no signs of slowing down — the company is currently seeking US authorisation for a booster dose of the vaccine.
In Singapore, Pfizer has a 960,000 manufacturing facility in Tuas since 2003 hiring nearly 400 employees. It also operates a “Manufacturing Technology and Development Centre” on Jurong Island since 2016. In Singapore, Pfizer also runs its lab services, which it states “provides reference standards to Pfizer’s global network and our partners”.
Pfizer co-developed the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine used here in Singapore.
#2 BioNTech SE
PM Lee mentioned that BioNTech, the vaccine partner of Pfizer, “will also be setting up shop here”. BioNTech is a German biotechnology/immunotherapy firm pioneering therapies for cancer and other serious diseases.
It will set up its first Southeast Asia headquarters, and a fully integrated mRNA manufacturing facility, in Singapore. The hub will produce mRNA vaccines and act as “a rapid response production capability for Southeast Asia to address potential pandemic threats”. BioNTech estimates that the hub will be operational as early as 2023 and will create up to 80 jobs in Singapore.
GlobalFoundries, a global leader in semiconductor manufacturing, already has 5 wafer fabs in Singapore and “is building its sixth one”. GlobalFoundries will be spending more than $5 billion to set up this sixth wafer fab to meet growing demand, especially in the automotive, 5G mobility and secure devices segments.
When completed, the facility “will be the most advanced semi manufacturing facility in Singapore”. The new fabrication facility is planned to open in 2023 and will create 1,000 new high-value jobs such as technicians and engineers, and more.
#4 Zoom Video Communication
“Two years ago, I did not know what Zoom was.” Most of us didn’t know about Zoom before the pandemic, but now, it’s difficult to think of a world without it. This pandemic not only transformed our understanding of Zoom, but also the way we adopt platforms like Zoom to continue with our business as well as social interactions.
This is also why it’s a proud achievement that Zoom has opened a new R&D centre in Singapore, “their first in South East Asia”. This centre will supplement Zoom’s existing R&D centres in the United States, India and China.
The new R&D centre will hire hundreds of staff in key engineering roles. The company mentioned that it had selected Singapore for its exceptional engineering talent.
Carro was mentioned as one of the Singapore companies that “have become global names”. Carro is an AI-driven used car auction marketplace with more than 1,000 dealers, and Southeast Asia’s largest automotive marketplace. Cars undergo a rigorous sanitation and 150-point inspection before being listed on Carro.
Carro has free 24/7 contactless car viewings at the carparks of Tiong Bahru Plaza and Midview City. How it works is that potential buyers unlock the car they want to view (by scanning the QR Code on the car bonnet) with the Carro app, then enter the car to get an inside-out feel for the vehicle. Carro sold its first car in this way during the 2020 11.11 Singles’ Day sale.
Prices on the platform are non-negotiable, but have no hidden fees.
SecretLab, another Singapore company mentioned during the National Day Rally, is a local gaming chair designer/manufacturer. They also sell fabric/leather cleaners, pillows and metal desks.
Given how work-from-home has propelled the need to create a home office – and thus purchase a comfortable and ergonomic chair, it’s not surprise that Secretlab made it into PM Lee’s speech.
Earlier in the year, SecretLab also made it into the news when ones of its co-founders bought a Good Class Bungalow and a penthouse unit for $51 million.
Carousell was mentioned together with Carro and SecretLab – as local companies waving the Singapore flag overseas. It is backed by the likes of Naspers, Sequoia India, Rakuten Ventures and Telenor Group, and has traction across eight markets in Southeast Asia and Taiwan and Hong Kong.
According to its LinkedIn page, Carousell has over 580 employees. Forbes also states that, as of July 2020, Carousell has had tens of millions of signups and upward of 250 million listings since its founding in 2012.
Hegen, whose founder and CEO Yvon Bock featured in PM Lee’s speech, “expanded into other markets” from the start. It is one of the examples of Singapore companies that has gone “out into the world, seize new opportunities, and grow their businesses”.
Hegen sells baby-feeding bottles and equipment and is an “award-winning brand founded in 2015 to enhance the breastfeeding journey for parents all over the world”. PM Lee also threw in a joke that the business has to be tough here as “Singaporeans are making too few babies”.
During the pandemic, Yvon pivoted the company toward digital marketing, even conducting multilingual live streams. Now, Hegen’s main engine of growth is online sales. PM Lee noted that Hegen has expanded internationally and gained a foothold in markets like Korea, China and even Israel.
#9, 10 and 11 Food Panda / Grab / Deliveroo
PM Lee cited these three companies as examples of online platforms that hire delivery workers in Singapore. Delivery workers have become a common sight in Singapore. During the height of the pandemic, especially in the Circuit Breaker period in 2020, they also played a vital role in getting food and supplies to home.
However, PM Lee mentioned that they do not have employment contracts, and therefore do not have access to workplace injury compensation, union representation, nor are paid CPF. However, he says that “delivery workers, are for all intents and purposes, just like employees”.
These companies may need to start treating their delivery- and driver- partners as employees.
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