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AS PART of an upgrade to its more than 40-year-old relationship with Singapore, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) will spend US$140 million over the next five years, including US$16 million to nurture promising local startups in collaboration with the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB).
As part of this investment, HPE opened its new Asia Pacific and Japan (APJ) headquarters building in Singapore and unveiled the InnovateNext programme, an incubator that will partner with local companies to "ideate, co-innovate and commercialise new technologies".
The new APJ headquarters brings all of the company's various facilities in Singapore - including R&D (research and development), supply chain and logistics, marketing and sales offices, an Innovation Centre and a 10,677 square foot Customer Experience Centre - into a single location to facilitate partnership and collaboration.
Recalling her company's long association with Singapore, Meg Whitman, president and CEO of HPE, noted that HP - which in 2015 split into two companies, HPE and HP Inc - was an early investor in Singapore, starting operations in 1970. She noted that HP as a whole - including HPE, HP Inc and the newly formed DXC Technology (created earlier this year from the merger of Computer Sciences Corporation and Hewlett Packard Enterprise Services) - used to employ 6,000-7,000 workers in Singapore. Ms Whitman added that HPE now has around 1,600 employees and she was confident that the number would go up.
The HPE CEO said that with the three-year InnovateNext programme the company hopes to work with 12 startups for product solutions that align with HPE's priority technology offerings, including hybrid IT, Internet of Things (IoT) and data and analytics. The aim is to commercialise their products for the global market as well as co-develop 10 vertical offerings with enterprise customers over three to five years, Ms Whitman said.
HPE will not use the US$16 million fund to invest in these startups. Rather it will use the money to support them with resources and infrastructure that they need. The companies would also have access to HPE's global network of research centres and customers.
"With our new InnovateNext programme, HPE will now be able to provide our best-in-class technology and global partner ecosystem to promising technology startups in Singapore to help them turn ideas into commercially viable enterprise technologies solutions they can offer to prospective customers," Ms Whitman said.
Explaining why Singapore was chosen as the location for the programme, Ms Whitman said: "You've got a great university system, you've got venture capital (VC) and you've got some great companies like HPE located here - you have the ingredients to create a mini Silicon Valley."
Ms Whitman noted that under the programme, potential startups would be identified in partnership with local universities, VC companies and through industry vertical engagements where HPE would identify existing startups that can contribute to the success of the company's customers in Singapore and APJ.
Beh Swan Gin, chairman of EDB, said: "We are pleased to support HPE in establishing its InnovateNext programme in Singapore - a global first for the company. It will benefit from and add to the growing vibrancy of our city's startup ecosystem. This programme undertakes a corporate innovation model well aligned with EDB's efforts to facilitate partnerships between multinational companies with their customers, suppliers and startups."
While a handful of startups have already started working with HPE on this programme, the company highlighted the role of Singapore-based startup gridComm, the first InnovateNext participant.
According to Mohan Krishnan, HPE's APJ VP and GM for solutions and technology, gridComm is working with HPE to create smart lighting solutions that leverage real-time data collected through Internet of Things (IoT) and devices that sit on the edge of the network. Mr Krishnan said gridComm's smart lighting system provides responsive lighting controls, such as brightening of lighting when sensors detect foot traffic.