A GRANT that helps companies upgrade their capabilities has allowed a local tech firm to pick up valuable skills from an American operation.

CEI Contract Manufacturing had been specialising in assembling and printing circuit boards for firms in electronics manufacturing, but branched out.

It now also makes high-tech equipment but that requires a different set of skills.

CEI teamed up with Ultratech, an American high-tech products supplier, to manufacture a piece of precision optical equipment. But that meant getting its staff here up to speed on the manufacturing process, which is where Spring Singapore's Capability Development Grant came in.

The new scheme, which was announced in this year's Budget, has been streamlined from previous productivity enhancement grants.

It subsidises skills and equipment upgrading for local firms.

Managing director Tan Ka Huat said CEI has been awarded about $200,000, which it used to send engineers for three weeks' training on precision optical equipment at Ultratech in San Jose, California, earlier this year.

The grant will also be used for more training exercises.

CEI general manager Chan Cheong Seng said yesterday: "This is where we acquire the latest technology capability. With better capability, it means more revenue, better business."

Mr Teo Ser Luck, Minister of State for Trade and Industry, visited the firm's Ang Mo Kio base yesterday and noted: "CEI is a good example of how multinational corporations can help technology transfer to local companies."

He added that CEI's collaboration with Ultratech benefited both firms. "They co-innovate and most importantly, the supplier, which is the Singapore company, improves its services and becomes more competitive," he said.

"The customer, such as Ultratech, would have experienced some gain in productivity.

"That would help Singapore productivity on a whole, as it pushes up the productivity drive."

Companies considering similar collaborations can also access the Partnerships for Capability Transformation (Pact) scheme.

This scheme used to promote tie-ups between multinationals and their suppliers in the manufacturing sector, but has now been extended to other industries.

An additional $60 million over three years has been set aside for the programme. More than 20 multinationals and their suppliers are in discussions with the Economic Development Board to take up funding for possible projects.

 
Background story

BENEFITS

This is where we acquire the latest technology capability. With better capability, it means more revenue, better business.

- CEI general manager Chan Cheong Seng