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Speech by Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, at the IIa Technologies Opening Ceremony

17 Mar 2015

Mr Vishal Mehta, CEO IIa Technologies

Ladies and Gentlemen


2. It is a pleasure to be here for the opening ceremony of this “diamond greenhouse”. It is an impressive, technology-intensive plant.

Transformation in the Precision Engineering Industry

3. IIa Technologies occupies a niche in high value manufacturing, as a diamond manufacturing facility. It is using research and advanced automation to grow conflict-free and environmentally-friendly pure1 diamond for technology applications. It is capturing the value at the high end of the diamond industry - the highest value-add often comes from diamond production, a role that has been traditionally held by diamond mines.

4. It is also an example of our Precision Engineering industry’s transformation towards high-technology and high value-added manufacturing.

a. Today, we see more firms in the industry re-defining themselves beyond their traditional supplier role. They are moving towards the design, development and manufacture of high-mix, low-volume complex equipment for the international market.

b. To do so, they are drawing on R&D, putting deep specialised skills into the game, and looking globally for markets for their specialised products.

c. Developing niche specialisations allows Singapore to capture higher-value activities within the value-chain.

d. These niche specialisations in industry create opportunities for Singaporeans to develop high skills. This a key thrust in our SkillsFuture journey.

i. I understand that IIa Technology is a strong supporter of developing Singaporeans. It is not a large firm by way of employment, because it is highly technology-intensive. But several of its senior management are Singaporeans who grew together with the company. The company has spent time to train and develop skills in their people to work with the advanced technology.

ii. One of its senior managers, Ang Hui Hui, was a senior technician at the Singapore Air Force between 1999 and 2006. She joint IIa when the company started in Singapore as a factory manager for a small pilot cutting process. She learnt the skills needed to manage the operation and the new technology and did well in her job. She is now Senior Manager of Operations at IIa Technologies and a key member of the team.

Support for Industry-wide Innovation

5. The Government will lend support for every form of innovation in industry. In particular, we will continue to encourage industry-wide adoption of advanced technologies in manufacturing - like additive manufacturing, lasers & optics, and robotics.

a. For example, the Singapore Centre for 3D printing at NTU was launched in November 2014. It carries out industry-oriented additive manufacturing research and development as well as nurtures postgraduate talent in this field. These activities will inject new know-how into our manufacturing sectors and keep Singapore companies at the forefront of new technology adoption.

b. IIa has developed its technology know-how and successfully scaled up the growth of type IIa diamonds after eight years of research. It has benefited from Singapore’s robust IP regime and is looking to develop new applications through its Customer Co-creation Centre.

c. The Centre will generate new applications for diamonds, either from existing research ideas or something completely out of the box, by working with industry partners and research partners.

d. This has important spin-offs for other industries as many technology applications experience thermal issues as devices miniaturize. Diamond is, as you know, an excellent heat sink because of its superior thermal conductivity. We look forward to seeing IIa spinning off new innovative applications and collaboration through its co-creation Centre.


6. In summary, I congratulate IIa Technologies for their relentless effort to innovate and develop deep expertise in their niche. These are exciting times ahead. I look forward to seeing IIa Technologies build upon its achievements in Singapore.