MUNICH: Singapore’s Economic Development Board (EDB) has appointed three prominent German and Austrian business leaders as economic ambassadors to help small- and medium-sized companies invest and expand in Singapore and Asia.
The three ambassadors are Dr Heinz-Jürgen Bertram, CEO of global fragrances supplier Symrise; Dr Roland Gerner, senior advisor of technology group Heraeus; and Dr Erich Erber, founder and president of Erber whose businesses include providing solutions in agriculture.
Their companies have been in Singapore for more than two decades – having invested in manufacturing facilities, regional distribution hubs, innovation centres and regional headquarters.
On Monday (Jul 10), the business leaders were presented certificates by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in a ceremony in Munich.
This brings the total number of such economic ambassadors to nine. The ambassador programme was launched two years ago in Berlin when Singapore marked 50 years of trade relations with Germany.
The ambassadors will advise small and medium enterprises – known as Mittelstand in German-speaking countries – in the DACH region, comprising Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
According to EDB, there are more than 3,000 DACH companies in Singapore.
In the past two years, the ambassadors have reached out to more than 900 Mittelstand Champions – companies with revenues above 50 million euros – through speaking at major conferences and providing one-on-one consultations to fellow business owners, said EDB managing director Yeoh Keat Chuan.
This is important as the Mittelstand community “is a very close-knit one, relying on personal recommendations”, he added.
Mr Yeoh told Channel NewsAsia that EDB will measure the programme’s success by looking at how many companies set up operations in Singapore and the firms’ growth, amongst other measures.
The ambassadors cited Singapore’s reputation for efficiency and strong governance, as well as its role as a “gateway to Asia” as major push factors for German firms.
“Singapore is somewhat Asia for beginners,” said Dr Betram. “A lot of support, a lot of infrastructure, everything you need to set up operations.”
At the event, EDB also gave an update on a dual studies programme for polytechnic graduates, where candidates are awarded a full scholarship to pursue a Bachelor degree from the University of Applied Sciences (UAS) in Germany and work at a sponsor Mittelstand company.
According to EDB, 41 engineering polytechnic graduates have joined the programme. They will return as young ambassadors for their companies and “strengthen the bridge between Germany and Singapore.”
Germany is Singapore’s largest EU trading partner, while Singapore is Germany’s largest ASEAN trading partner.