FRENCH technology and aerospace company Thales has added Singapore to its digital factory network. The launch event was officiated by Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing on Thursday.
The opening of the Singapore centre, after France and Canada, is to bring Thales closer to its Asia-Pacific customers and partners, and foster closer collaboration in addressing the challenges faced by local organisations, said Olivier Flous, vice-president of digital transformation and digital factory, Thales.
The Thales Digital Factory operates with a lean startup mindset, aiming to deliver first versions of new digital services in a few months.
This allows it to test operational and business value quickly through minimum viable products.
Mr Flous said: "Singapore has the right customers and ecosystem to test new ideas and concepts, probably more rapidly than we could do in other places in the world.
"It's a big economy, but a small country. It's easier to test new concepts because you can access customers easily, and organisations are really open."
Mr Flous also said that it was important to be connected with startups. Thales is already working with a Singapore-based startup in the development of its first minimum viable product in the Singapore Digital Factory.
While the company does not invest equity in startups, it works with them through commercial agreements. One of them is a Singapore-based cybersecurity startup, Dathena, at its Paris Digital Factory.
The startup is working with companies to help them comply with Europe's General Data Protection Regulation, which came into effect in May this year.
Thales currently has 700 employees in Singapore but that is expected to increase to about 2,000 after it completes its acquisition of digital security firm Gemalto in the first quarter of next year.
Thales' Singapore Digital Factory is expected to house a team of 30 specialists by 2019. They include data scientists, software engineers, designers and cybersecurity specialists.
It plans to double the number of employees and invest over 20 million euros (S$31.2 million) in the next three to five years.
Tan Kong Hwee, executive director, capital goods and mobility, Singapore Economic Development Board, said the factory serves as an example of how industrial companies are riding the digitalisation wave, and creating exciting jobs for Singaporeans in specialised areas.
Crucially, the Digital Factory will help to create solutions in mission-critical sectors such as defence, security and aerospace.