Kajima Invests S$100 million in its First Overseas Innovation Centre in Changi Business Park

Kajima broke ground for its first overseas innovation centre, Kajima Global Hub, which will serve as its Asia Pacific headquarters, at Singapore’s Changi Business Park today. The groundbreaking ceremony was graced by Guest-of-Honour, Ms Low Yen Ling, Minister of State for Trade and Industry, and Culture, Community and Youth, together with H.E. Jun Yamazaki, Ambassador of Japan to Singapore, Mr Shuichi Oishi, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Kajima Development Pte Ltd, Mr Koji Sugimoto, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Kajima Overseas Asia Pte Ltd, and Mr Ng Lang, Chief Executive Officer of JTC.

Set against the backdrop of rapid urbanisation, digitalisation and climate change, companies in the built environment sector are transforming themselves, by developing smarter and greener technologies. With an investment of near S$100 million, the upcoming Kajima Global Hub demonstrates the confidence foreign investors have in Singapore’s long-term fundamentals amidst the global pandemic. It also signifies the long-standing partnership between Singapore and Kajima, and is a testament to Singapore’s reputation as a trusted and well-connected global research and development (R&D) hub.

Kajima Global Hub will boost the built environment sector with new building technologies and R&D capabilities

Slated to be completed by 2023, Kajima Global Hub will occupy 13,088 sqm of business park space, R&D lab space and double volume construction lab space in Changi Business Park. To strengthen its regional operations, the new landmark building will consolidate all 400 staff across its business functions, such as construction, engineering, development, research, and design under one roof.

Kajima Technical Research Institute Singapore (KaTRIS) will conduct R&D and open innovation on advanced construction technologies, as well as testbed sustainable and wellness technologies. Besides researching and showcasing new construction technologies in robotics, digitalisation and automation, the building will incorporate data-driven environmental control technologies and energy-saving solutions for its occupants. This will accelerate the adoption of ready solutions in the market, and grow the industry in a sustainable manner.

In addition, the expansion of R&D activities under KaTRIS will increase the number of local research personnel. With new digital technologies and solutions in robotics, integrated digital delivery, building design, sustainability and resilience, Kajima Global Hub will create better jobs, attract local hires and reduce the environmental impact of new developments.

President of Kajima Corporation, Mr Yoshikazu Oshimi, said: “I am delighted to see that our plan has started to take shape in the development of our new Asia Pacific headquarters building which further expands our research and technology function in Singapore. By promoting open innovations with renowned institutions in the region, both public and private, we strive to build our solid foundation, not only to deliver the best services and solutions to our clients, but to plant seeds and incubate new businesses for future generation. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Singapore Economic Development Board and JTC for their unparalleled support to make this epoch-making plan come true.”

Kajima and JTC strengthens partnership to help the industry emerge stronger

Kajima and JTC reaffirmed their partnership at the groundbreaking ceremony to bolster built capabilities and drive R&D efforts across the building value chain from design and construction to operations and maintenance. This includes research and testbed of innovative solutions in robotics, integrated digital delivery, energy optimisation, sustainability, building design to improve occupant wellness, and facilities management. As part of JTC's Industry Connect initiative to connect companies with its partners to identify and solve common challenges, JTC introduced Kajima to several partners to testbed construction solutions.

Both organisations signed a Memorandum of Understanding last year to share expertise and collaborate on R&D in areas such as digital technologies and automated solutions to improve productivity and maintenance capabilities. Shared resources such as equipment, lab facilities, and manpower will also help defray the high cost of R&D.

Among the joint initiatives are research on the Building Information Modelling (BIM) system to digitalise the building operations in facility management to optimise productivity. On the innovation front, Kajima and JTC will be jointly developing the concrete finishing robot with Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and a local SME, Mega Plus Technology Pte Ltd, to automate the construction process. By early next year, the robot can reduce manpower and labour cost by 50%, on top of improving quality and safety.

JTC also introduced Kajima to an NTU start-up, Transforma Robotics, to deploy its painting and inspection robots that were jointly developed with JTC, to work alongside Kajima’s construction robots. The construction of the Kajima Global Hub project will be the first known application of a comprehensive suite of robotics solutions by Kajima outside Japan. The technologies can be deployed and scaled up at JTC’s industrial estates and buildings once ready.

JTC’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr Ng Lang, said, “As the Government’s appointed Centre of Excellence for Building and Infrastructure, JTC forms strategic partnerships with industry partners, such as Kajima, and academic institutes to address a broad spectrum of real world challenges faced by the sector. By combining our engineering capabilities with forward-looking industry expertise, we hope to accelerate and contribute to the built environment sector’s digitalisation journey.”

NTU’s School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Associate Chair, Professor Yang Yaowen said, “The partnerships with Kajima and JTC enables NTU to transfer its R&D achievements into practical applications to address the urgent needs in construction industry, in particular improvement in productivity and manpower saving.”.

Kajima embarking on various R&D and test-bedding collaborations with Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs), government agencies, and industry partners

To promote workplace wellness and provide better indoor environmental quality, Kajima has been working closely with National University of Singapore (NUS) on “well and green” building design concepts. This is an expansion from its prior contribution to “the SDE 4 new-build net-zero energy building project” for NUS. Specifically, joint research is conducted with NUS School of Design and Environment (SDE) on environmental simulation and thermal comfort evaluation, for example, in hybrid air-conditioned space, focusing on energy savings and human-centric design.

Kajima is also partnering the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) on the adaptation of advanced technologies such as drones for the construction industry. These solutions, when ready, can be scaled up for future use at other industrial buildings and support the built environment sector.

In addition, Kajima collaborated with Nanyang Centre for Underground Space (NCUS) at NTU on rock support modelling. NTU and Kajima have jointly published several journal papers on the research topic. This technology will contribute to the effective and sustainable use of underground space in the near future for Singapore.

Moving forward, Kajima will co-create new ideas with start-ups and SMEs to expand open innovation activities at the Kajima Global Hub. For example, it is sponsoring the Lee Kuan Yew Global Business Plan Competition managed by Singapore Management University (SMU), and participated in the Open Innovation Platform managed by Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) to better support innovation activities locally.