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Speech by Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Minister for Finance, at Opening of Roche Singapore Manufacturing Facility, 3 November 2009, 11:00 AM at Tuas Medical Park

04 Nov 2009

Your Excellency Jörg Al. Reding,
Swiss Ambassador to Singapore

Dr Franz Humer,
Chairman, Roche Holdings

Dr Patrick Yang,
Executive Vice President, Technical Operations, Genentech

The teams from Roche, Genentech and Lonza

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. It gives me great pleasure to join you today for the opening of Roche’s manufacturing facilities in Tuas Biomedical Park.

2. I would like to thank our friends at Roche for their confidence in making Singapore the site for their first biologics manufacturing facilities in Asia. Your partnership with Singapore has evolved and deepened since the time Roche Pharmaceuticals set up an affiliate here 37 years ago. Today, we take great pride in the opening of these world-class facilities.

3. These facilities are in many ways a marriage of our strengths - Roche’s excellence in science, its top-rate capabilities in medical innovation, and its exacting manufacturing technologies; and Singapore’s commitment to developing a skilled manufacturing workforce, its openness to talent from all over the world, its deepening clusters of expertise in key industries like biotechnology, its strong rule of law and a business environment that seeks to facilitate growth.

4. In sum, these facilities came to be here because Roche and Singapore shared a passion for excellence, continual improvement and breakthroughs.

5. I can assure you of the Singapore Government’s continued and strong support, so that we can build on this significant milestone and work towards expanding our partnership with Roche to harness opportunities in the Asia Pacific.

Singapore – A Leading Site for Biologics Manufacturing

6. The increased efficacy of biologics-based treatments will result in a surge in demand for manufacturing capacity in the coming years. Singapore has built up the key capabilities and resources needed to meet the needs of companies in the industry.

7. Within the last four years, leading companies have invested about US$2 billion to set up six commercial-scale manufacturing plants. This is a strong endorsement of the foundation we have laid for cutting-edge biomedical manufacturing, leveraging on the availability of skilled manpower, bioprocessing capabilities and strong base of engineering services companies. I will go through each of these advantages quickly.

8. In the area of manpower, Singapore has since the early 2000s partnered industry leaders to train in advance over 250 Singaporeans at their plants worldwide. We have also enhanced the curriculum of our tertiary institutes to ensure that our graduates are well-equipped to meet the needs of biologics plants.

9. In addition, the National University of Singapore has set up the Singapore Academy of GxP[1] Excellence (SAGE) to provide our workforce with opportunities for continuing education. SAGE delivers world class training and promotes best practices in GxP guidelines. SAGE also provides basic training courses for people who are keen to join the biomedical industry. Such training initiatives will ensure that our workforce continues to be at the frontier of product safety, quality and efficacy.

10. In R&D, Singapore set up a research institute that is focused on developing bioprocess capabilities, under the purview of our Agency for Science, Technology and Education (A*STAR) in 2003. Located at the Biopolis, the Bioprocessing Technology Institute (BTI) works closely with the industry to optimise biopharmaceutical manufacturing processes, and to impart key skills to fresh graduates before they join the industry.

11. We have an established base of world class engineering services companies such as the PM Group and Bovis Lend Lease, with a proven track record in building world class biomedical manufacturing facilities. The pharmaceuticals and biotechnology industry can leverage on their capabilities to accelerate the start up of commercial operations in Singapore.

Creating Good Jobs for Singaporeans

12. When the six biologics plants being implemented are fully operational, they will provide highly skilled jobs for over 1,000 employees.

13. These will appeal to both fresh graduates and mid-career professionals from related sectors such as the chemicals, electronics and processing sectors. Singaporeans will have the opportunity to be part of this exciting growth sector, at the frontiers of science and technology, manufacturing cutting-edge and globally trusted medicines for patients around the world. I am sure that the employees working at Roche’s Singapore facility are likewise highly motivated, knowing that they are making a difference to patients’ lives everyday.


14. Let me again congratulate Roche’s staff and senior management on the official opening of your Singapore biologics facilities. I wish you every success and look forward to your continued partnership with Singapore.