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Makino to invest $75m in Singapore R&D centre

MAKINO Asia, a fully owned subsidiary of Japan's Makino Milling Machine Company, said yesterday it will invest $75 million over five years in its new international research and development centre in Singapore - its first outside Japan.

The precision machine tools maker will spend about $20 million building the centre, which will be completed by the first quarter of next year. Additional investments of between $12 million and $15 million will be pumped in annually over the following four years - largely to fund staffing and related research expenses.

This expansion will see Makino design, develop and manufacture new electrical discharge machining models. Using this technology, the desired shape of an object is obtained using electrical discharges and milling machine tools.

The new centre here will double Makino's R&D headcount, from 58 to 120.

Makino has also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology to collaborate on R&D and raise the performance of equipment used to make hi-tech components for the aerospace, automotive, electronics, medical technology and precision engineering sectors.

Makino Asia's president and chief executive, Moh Chong Tau, said: 'We hope to leverage on the international research and development centre to provide customers with cutting-edge, technology-enabled machines and equipment, providing a one-stop customer-centric service, including staff-training.'

Beh Suan Gin, managing director of the Economic Development Board, said at yesterday's Makino event that the precision engineering sector is very important to Singapore's economy.

'In 2008 this sector generated more than $22 billion of output, which is about 10 per cent of Singapore's total manufacturing output of Singapore,' he said. 'It's very substantial, and accounted for close to 3 per cent of GDP.

'Equally important, the sector employs more than 100,000 people, or about a quarter of the manufacturing work force, and this is why the Singapore government will always pay a lot of attention to ensure the health and prosperity of the sector.'