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4 minute read

Meet the innovators of a more sustainable future

With the fight against climate change gathering pace, it is more important and urgent than ever to improve and scale up existing sustainable technologies and solutions. This cannot happen without innovation and research - and crucially the people whose passion is to test, learn and find answers. This is where Neste’s new APAC Innovation Center comes in.

Irja Howie

Irja Howie


Neste, a leading producer of sustainable aviation fuelrenewable diesel and circular solutions, has innovation deep in its DNA, and is now building on this with the opening of a new Innovation Center in Singapore. The Center has a key role in strengthening Neste’s innovation, research and development capabilities globally and driving collaboration within the APAC area.

Neste APAC innovation center

Coupled with the huge expansion of Neste’s renewable product refinery in the area, it marks a significant milestone in the quest to replace fossil fuels at scale with renewable solutions. 

At the heart of it all, making change happen, are people. Irja Howie speaks to two of the researchers from the APAC Innovation Center, Jeane Koh and Calvin Poh, about what this Center and their work means to them.

Innovation boost to scale up renewable fuels

Calvin says Neste’s investments in Singapore send a strong message: ”The opening of the APAC Innovation Center and the expansion of our refinery in Singapore tell the world how serious Neste is about driving up adoption levels of sustainable aviation and transport fuels - as well as other circular solutions.”

Jeane adds: “Our raw materials are sourced globally, also from a wide range of markets in the Asia Pacific region, with strict sustainability criterias in place. Together with the expanded refinery, this will really speed up our quest for more types of raw materials, while boosting the production of safe and renewable fuels from existing raw materials.”

The combination of the APAC Innovation Center and the refinery expansion in Singapore brings significant synergies as Calvin highlights: “The expanding refinery comes equipped with technologies for treating new and challenging raw materials. With the new laboratory at the Innovation Center we can work together to streamline processes and learn exponentially more.”

“The two go hand in hand and are mutually supportive, making better products and processes, and driving innovation together.”

Finding and improving solutions to help save our planet

Both Calvin and Jeane have been part of the team setting up the state-of-the-art laboratory with advanced analytical and raw material research capabilities, in readiness for the Innovation Center launching in 2023. It is clear from them both what an exciting journey it has already been. 

“The first six months have been a whirlwind of excitement. We flew off to Finland for the first six weeks for onboarding and it has been hands on deck in Singapore ever since. We have achieved a lot as a team - teamwork is at the heart of our success,” enthuses Calvin.

Jeane agrees:“The energy and drive is great, the work is challenging and interesting. It is a very talented, experienced and diverse team, and we are learning a lot from each other as we work together towards a common target.” 

This common goal is an important shared motivator that both Jeane and Calvin speak about with passion. 

“What we do makes a difference,” says Jeane, “We are conducting a lot of meaningful research here to help come up with solutions to combat climate change. Our work translates into real life by directly contributing to the production of renewable products, which is really motivating.”

“There is a lot of talk about sustainability, climate change and reducing our carbon footprint. A big part of this fight to save our planet is down to innovation, research and technology - and that is why it is so important to invest in those things.”

Calvin concurs: ”I’m strongly motivated by Neste’s purpose: creating a healthier planet for our children. We need to be more sustainable and use fewer fossil fuels. Ongoing discovery on this front is what drives me every day.”

“I enjoy exploring things that are not known, problem solving, and answering questions. To test a hypothesis in a lab - whether it is a yes or a no. It’s exciting!

Helping to make the circular economy possible

Looking to the future, Jeane says her big dream is to see a transition to a circular economy, where we systematically minimize and make use of waste: “Our work contributes to making that circular economy possible because we are finding ways to use waste and residues for truly useful products and applications.

“There is a lot more to learn - the journey will be worth it!”

Watch this video for a virtual tour of the new APAC Innovation Center:

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Credits: Irja Howie, UK-based journalist and communications expert.