Published March 27, 2008

PerkinElmer opens R&D centre in S'pore

Move will buttress its research work in the region


HIGH-TECH instrument maker PerkinElmer yesterday opened a research and development (R&D) centre of excellence for life and analytical science (LAS) devices in Singapore - a move that will buttress its research operations in the region.

In line with the opening of the centre, the US-based company plans to raise its annual R&D spending by as much as 10 per cent next year and increase its headcount 10 per cent this year.

It now spends about $10 million a year on R&D in Singapore, where it employs about 75 R&D engineers, mostly in inorganic analysis, drug development and opto-electronic instruments.

Singapore was chosen as the base to expand R&D in the region because it allows PerkinElmer to integrate R&D with other parts of its business.

'Business in this area has become very competitive,' said the company's vice-president and chief scientific officer, Daniel Marshak. 'It's not enough to just build the best instrument out there. It has to be the best instrument at the lowest cost, with the best sourcing of material and parts and high level assembly.'

Singapore is a key hub for PerkinElmer. It is home to two production plants and the company manages many of its regional manufacturing sites out of Singapore. It also sources many parts here, where it employs 400 workers and has a regional storage and distribution centre at Changi.

The new R&D centre will focus on developing next-generation LAS instruments such as atomic absorption spectrometers to test elements. LAS devices are currently made in Singapore for the global market. They are used by environmental, petrochemical and mining companies.

There is rising demand for the devices from the bio-fuel and alternative energy sectors, Dr Marshak said.

'Demand comes from many different sectors, not just the pharmaceutical industry, but also academic research,' he said.

'There is a trend towards larger-scale academic research. Around the world, there are many more groups of scientists working together in large-scale biology. In other words, pooling their resources to get one big instrument that they share.'

PerkinElmer did not say how much it will invest in the new R&D centre, but the move will take its total R&D investment in Singapore so far to more than $100 million.

The company spends more than $70 million a year procuring raw materials from more than 150 suppliers here.

New York-listed PerkinElmer reported a 10.1 per cent gain in net income to US$132 million last year on revenue of US$1.8 billion.