Nordic European Centre Broadens Its Footprint To Fill The Floors

     It was orignally meant to be Norway’s business hub in Singapore.
Then the Singapore government suggested a Nordic Centre for all Scandinavians, which was fine with the project’s investors so construction began early 1998.
It was suspended later that year when the Asian crisis finally hit Singapore’s property market hard. But the project bounced back.
With fresh capital and a new focus not only on Nordic companies but also  European and even some non-European tenants – it was opened in December 2000: the Nordic European Centre in Singapore.
Today it has a very healthy operation with over 90 percent occupancy and tenants from 14 countries, with more to come in the near future.
“I expect we will reach 96-97 percent occupancy in May/June,” says Goh Ek Boon, the energetic CEO at the centre. “That level is perfect as it leaves some room for change if any tenant needs space to grow.”
     Only the tenant’s national identities have changed (from strictly Nordic) to targeting a broader base of tenant mix, while the original design of the centre is basically untouched.
     All facilities intended from the outset have been put in place in the seven story,  22,000 square metres business park building which includes an auditorium, function and meeting rooms, exhibition hall, a café/restaurant as well as integrated voice, data and broadband connectivity and flexible space configuration to make room for growth and competitive rates. It even has one-stop professional advisory services available when need be for new start ups. 
    The Nordic content is 13 tenants strong from four countries though Iceland is not represented. This proves that the recurring idea to raise Nordic-only business hubs abroad, or even centres for individual Nordic countries, is perhaps naïve or wishful thinking. It seems that few such projects survive without some kind of state subsidies or/and other ‘free’ support injected in the business. As far as Goh is concerned, there are still potentially more tenants out there in the Nordic countries.
“Especially for small and medium sized companies looking to set up business in Asia,” says Goh.
    “This place is purpose-built for that category of entrepreneurs and Singapore is the easiest country to start business from within Asia. But it is difficult to reach this particular group of companies.”
Here in Singapore, Goh keeps in touch with the potential Nordic customer base through memberships of business councils, chambers of commerce and similar organisations.
“I attend their functions and try to keep up to date,” says Goh. “It does not produce immediate results but I work for the long term.”
Goh’s experience of arranging networking parties at the Nordic European Centre indicates that tenants prefer to work overtime or simply like to socialize somewhere else, rather than take time off to mingle with their next door neighbours.
“We have not had good turnouts,” says Goh about his networking attempts.
And this is maybe a sign, supported by the high and healthy occupancy numbers, that the right concept of the Nordic European Centre provides the ideal working environment for hardworking entrepreneurs and established multinational corporations.
The original design includes a 2nd phase – an expansion behind the current seven story building. Are there any such plans to grow bigger?
“No concrete plans yet. I might be interested if a big prospective tenant shows up and is willing to take a long term lease for say ten years or more. To make business sense, they would need to take up 60-70 percent of the total space. Then we could lease out the rest,” explains Goh.

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