This is an update on a previous post, Picking Winners. This update presents yet another useful nugget of anecdotal information to support my thoughts. You might want to glance through the Picking Winners post to refresh your memory on what it was all about.
As luck would have it, just last week, I got wind of news of an ex-colleague of mine who left my current company almost 4 years ago to take up a Training and Attachment Program (TAP) with EDB. Apparently, TAP has now been renamed STRAT (as if we didn't have enough of an alphabet soup of acronyms; maybe it's because of all those ex-military types who have been offered jobs in the civil service post-retirement. I got a real kick out of the cornily named PREP-UP).
I shall call this ex-colleague of mine Nama (as in Royce Nama Chocolates, the reason will be clear enough in the following paragraph).
Nama had taken up a TAP co-sponsored by EDB and Rolls-Royce for training in manufacturing and testing of solid oxide fuel cells. He spent about 2 years in Derby, UK, for this training stint. It's actually kind of hard to find information on this TAP, what with broken links and pulled press releases. This is what I could find: here, here and here.
2 years post-TAP, with the Great Recession front and center, what has happened to Nama? Well, there is no large-scale manufacturing fuel cell facility in Singapore to be sure (or else the local media would have been all over it). In fact, out of about 20 engineers that had been working in the Rolls-Royce Fuel Cells venture, all but Nama have been made redundant. He is the sole employee remaining; he reports to a supervisor in the UK (make of that what you will).
When I heard that he was the sole remaining employee, I immediately thought of this and this. Nama isn't exactly shoddily paid (he is in fact quite well remunerated), but I speculate that perhaps the amounts that Rolls-Royce gets in government incentives more than compensate for maintaining a token fuel cell presence in Singapore (I have to reiterate, this is mere speculation on my part).
Needless to say, this hardly seems like a sustainable (sic) position for Nama. The fuel cell industry in Singapore is quite ... dead, at least for now.
[For the purpose of balance however, I have to add that Rolls-Royce does have substantial investments in the aviation industry in Singapore, and these appear to be doing ok. Well, I can't say as much on this as fuel cells as I have no inside contact information.]