Siemens Medical Instruments (SMI)Riding the trend towards increased innovation in Asia
Siemens is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of digital hearing instruments, utilizing the latest microelectronic technology. In fact, the company founder, Werner von Siemens, pioneered hearing aids when he invented the first technical solution for hearing loss in 1878. Since then, Siemens has remained a frontrunner in the hearing aid industry, developing many innovative products, such as the world’s first pocket-size hearing instrument, first remote control for hearing technology, first trainable hearing instrument, and first waterproof digital hearing aid.
Siemens established its operations for hearing instruments in Singapore – Siemens Medical Instruments (SMI), in 1974. The company expanded its presence in Singapore rapidly over the years, anchoring its worldwide manufacturing and logistics headquarters here in 2000. In the same year, SMI opened its current 8,000-square-metre facility at Ayer Rajah Industrial Estate.
Today, SMI houses its global headquarters for commercial, manufacturing, supply chain management, product lifecycle management and intellectual property management in Singapore. The country is also home to SMI’s regional competence centre for customer relationship management.
Additionally, SMI is the second-largest R&D facility worldwide for Siemens Audiology Group, and conducts product development and process design for hearing aids development and manufacturing.
POSITIONING FOR LONG-TERM GROWTH
Over the last four decades, SMI has invested more than S$110 million in Singapore, earmarking a significant portion of this money for R&D. About 40 per cent of the company’s global R&D is conducted in Singapore.
In 2012, Siemens launched the Ace hearing aid, a remarkably tiny instrument that it says is the most discreet hearing aid in its class, for younger users and first-time customers. The Ace is a collaboration between its Singapore R&D team and its German counterpart.
THE WAY FORWARD
Between now and 2050, Asia’s ageing population is expected to dramatically increase by 314 per cent – from 207 million to an eventual 857 million. An ageing population and the growing affluence of Asia’s middle classes are expected to lead to an increased demand for high quality audiology solutions.
According to the Singapore Economic Development Board, Singapore’s medical technology output tripled from S$1.5 billion in 2000, to about S$4.3 billion in 2011. Such robust growth, coupled with the market opportunities in Asia are now prompting SMI to look at expansion plans in Singapore. SMI plans to boost investments in research and development by ten per cent in 2013.
The company has also invested S$20 million to help launch Singapore’s first degree course related to audiology. Based at the National University of Singapore’s Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, the two-year Master of Science in Clinical Audiology will increase the number of audiologists in Singapore. SMI’s long-term view on talent development and dedication to innovating products for global markets validates Singapore’s position as a strategic partner for leading companies to access the opportunities in Asia.
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