Springboard to Asia

Siemens and Singapore: Partners for 110 years

Siemens and Singapore are bound by a partnership lasting more than 110 years that is based on trust, innovation and looking to the future. The Southeast Asian metropolis is considered one of the most modern countries in the world – and Siemens has played an important role in that.

Southeast Asia by way of Singapore – The city state as the foundation for entrepreneurial success

At the beginning of the 20th century, Siemens had already recognized the importance of Singapore as a springboard into Southeast Asia. The strategically favorable location of the port city at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula is an ideal turnstile for accessing Southeast Asian markets. Singapore, which profits from its position along the historic spice trade route from East Asia to India and Europe, belongs to the Straits Settlements, a series of territorial settlements established by the British colonial empire on the Strait of Malacca. More than 110 years ago, Siemens is successfully able to get a foothold in Singapore and become an important part of the port city’s economic and technological ascent – something that still holds to this very day.


Over the course of a the century, numerous projects in the areas of energy, communications, automation and mobility become the impressive markers of a sustained and successful partnership which, in 2001, is bestowed with a special honor: As “Distinguished Partner in Progress,” Siemens receives the highest distinction granted by the Singapore government in recognition of its contribution to the country’s economy. The strategic significance of the metropolis as a center for Siemens today can be seen in the recently launched Digitalization Hub project, a further step toward the digitalization of the world.

Strong together – The founding of a technical bureau

Things start small in the beginning. In May 1908, the former Siemens companies Siemens & Halske and Siemens Schuckertwerke, together with the English subsidiary Siemens Brothers & Co. Limited, agree to open a technical bureau in Singapore on June 1, 1908. Because Singapore, being part of the Straits Settlements, belongs to the British colonial empire, Siemens Brothers Dynamo Works Limited, which is responsible for the English energy business, takes the lead on the project. The bureau, which opens on August 1, serves as the sole agency on the Malay Peninsula. As is common at the time, Siemens seeks reinforcements. The company Behn, Meyer & Co. Limited, Singapore, is incorporated in the interest group made up of the three Siemens companies. As the best locally networked agency, Behn, Meyer & Co. is to make available to Siemens “every help through the use of its company connections, its knowledge, experience, etc.,” as is written in the contract from 1908. Together, they wish to provide the Straits Settlements and the Federated Malay States with “larger electrical projects, such as complete power plants, rail systems, etc.” For Siemens, Singapore becomes the springboard into Southeast Asia. 

However, the configuration of a private local bureau does not last long. The English subsidiary leaves the Siemens business association during the First World War, as soon as the English government confiscates all Siemens Brothers shares in 1914 and sells them to British citizens. However, Siemens manages to remain active in Singapore by signing representation agreements with local companies – a practice used all the way up to 1979, the same year the company establishes its first own local subsidiary: Siemens Pte. Limited. A decisive step in a successful partnership.

Technologies of the future in focus – Sustainability and digitalization have been the top priorities since 2000

A partnership in the water current – Research and development for water technology

Resource efficiency, sustainability and population growth are among the pressing topics affecting areas of high population density such as Singapore in the new century. One of the metropolis’ most important concerns is secured and sufficient water supplies. Singapore, with its dense population of roughly 5 million and counting is, to an especially high degree, dependent on the efficient and sustainable availability of potable water. To achieve this goal and to be equipped in the long-term for growing demands, Singapore aims to become the leading location for the most modern water-treatment technologies. During the 2000s, the metropolis finds the perfect partner in Siemens. In 2006, the company joins PUB, Singapore's national water agency to build a groundbreaking water-treatment plant in Singapore that transforms wastewater into potable water. 40,000 cubic meters of water are processed every day with the help of ultra-thin membranes and antiseptic UV rays and then fed back into the drinking water circuit. It is a testing and demonstration system that serves as the foundation for the Water Hub established in 2007 in Singapore, which, coordinated by Siemens Water Technologies, spearheads the research and investigation of future water-treatment technologies.

“Green” is the trump card – Singapore is the most environmentally friendly city in Asia

On February 14, 2011, Singapore is named Asia’s “greenest” metropolis in the Asian Green City Index due to its goals and accomplishments when it comes to environmental and climate protection. Among the other 22 participating cities – including Bangkok, Beijing, Kolkata and Kuala Lumpur – it is the only city to achieve values far above the average and to see excellent results in all individual categories, such as CO2 emissions, energy, water and traffic management as well as air quality. The basis for this is, above all, a long-term and systematic environmental policy in which sustainability is one of the government’s primary goals. In that light, Siemens proves itself to be a reliable and innovative partner for Singapore and has for many years significantly contributed to modernization, automation and electrification in the energy, industry and mobility sectors. One of the central pillars of this is the digitalization of infrastructure, and thereby the transformation of Singapore into a “Smart City,” which profits considerably from Siemens know-how.

Singapore is one of the most significant economies in the world. It stands for excellence, long-term planning and progressive thinking. Siemens will be a central partner for Singapore on the path toward the new digital economy.
Joe Kaeser, President and Chief Executive Officer of Siemens AG from 2013 to 2021

Dr. Ewald Blocher