Page 21 - Agri 2019_11Sept
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In April 2018, a multi-agency initiative led by Enterprise Singapore was launched to equip companies with the knowledge and resources to create food for the future. Speaking at the launch, Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat said, “FoodInnovate will seek to address the challenges companies face in pursuing innovation through a four-pronged approach.”
Developed as part of the Food Manufacturing Industry Transformation Map, FoodInnovate seeks to:
• Provide physical infrastructure to
facilitate access to technologies and
• Equip companies with food science
knowledge and market insights;
• Create platforms to incubate ideas and drive
co-innovation; and
• Promote the adoption of disruptive
technologies by building a base for agri- food tech startups in Singapore.
Since then, it has unveiled a couple of shared facilities. First on the list is the High Pressure Processing (HPP) Resource Sharing Facility.
Jointly set up by the Food Innovation Resource Centre and Warehouse Logistics Net Asia, with support from Enterprise Singapore, it allows companies to access HPP technology under a pay-per-use model without having to stump up hefty upfront investment in equipment. By using high pressure instead of heat or chemicals to preserve food, it allows the nutritional qualities and taste to be retained while extending shelf- life by up to four times longer.
At the new JTC Food Hub @ Senoko, the first multi-tenanted food development in Singapore with an integrated cold room and warehouse, a small batch production facility is in the works. The first of its kind in Singapore, it will allow companies to rent advanced equipment also on a pay-per-use basis to experiment new kinds of products.
Slated for completion in end 2019, the facility will be especially useful for small and medium-sized enterprises, which may not have the scale or in-house capabilities to test new ideas. They will have access to a range of equipment, from standard ones like spray dryers to advanced equipment such as microwave-assisted thermal sterilisers and pulsed electric fields.
“More than ever, consumers today look for ease of preparation and enhanced nutritional value in their food choices. Food manufacturers need to innovate their product offerings to meet these new consumer requirements. However, companies often face a lack of scale and in-house capabilities. SMEs in particular, may find it difficult to do small batch production to test their new ideas, as the equipment is expensive and outsourcing to a contract manufacturer requires a larger minimum order size than what they need. This increases the cost of experimentation and has resulted in a low
commercialisation rate,” said Chee Hong Tat, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Trade and Industry, at the opening of the food hub.
Building Talent Pool in Food Manufacturing
To support industry development and foster growth, a skills framework has been unveiled to build and maintain a strong talent pool for the industry. Jointly developed by SkillsFuture Singapore, Workforce Singapore and Enterprise Singapore, together with employers, industry associations, and education and training providers, as well as the unions, the Skills Framework for Food Manufacturing outlines job roles, career pathways, as well as existing and emerging skills and relevant training programmes required for the industry.
Employers will be able to recognise these skills and invest in training their employees for career development and skills upgrading. Education and training providers can gain insights on sector trends and existing and emerging skills that are in demand, and design programmes to meet the sector needs accordingly. At the same time, the government, unions and professional bodies can analyse the skills gap and offer appropriate SkillsFuture initiatives to upgrade talent and professionalise the sector.
Speaking at the launch in July 2018, Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing said, “We believe that food manufacturing can be a competitive advantage for Singapore. This may not be obvious to others who see us as a land-scarce and labour-tight market. But it is because we are land scarce and labour tight that we no longer want to compete on the basis of price. We want to compete on the quality of our workers.”

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