Philip Yeo

Chairman, Singapore

Mr. Philip Yeo is widely recognized for his significant contributions to Singapore's economic development in both the public and private sectors; his pioneering role in the development of the country's information technology, semiconductor and chemical industries and biomedical sciences; and for championing the development of young talent.

Mr. Yeo is former Chairman of SPRING Singapore, a government enterprise development agency with a mission to nurture local enterprises, especially SMEs. He is also Chairman of the boards of several other organisations who are making strides in the development of technology parks and eco-cities, and advancements in aerospace and medical engineering.

From April 2007 to August 2011, Mr. Yeo was Special Advisor for Economic Development, Prime Minister's Office, helping to establish new economic links with foreign governments and strategic partnerships with other fast-growing economies. He served in the Singapore Administrative Service from June 1970 to March 1999, during which time he held various appointments in the Ministry of Defence, including Permanent Secretary for logistics, defence research & development and defence industries.

He was the Founding Chairman of the National Computer Board (now Infocomms Development Authority) of Singapore from 1981 to 1987, playing a lead role in formulating and championing Singapore's first national computerisation plan to evolve the nation into the information age.

From 1986 to 2001, Mr. Yeo was Executive Chairman, Economic Development Board (EDB) and Executive Co-Chairman, EDB from 2001 to 2006. He redirected EDB's focus from the established fields to new areas of business including high-tech industries like biomedical sciences, semiconductors, aerospace and chemicals.

Money doesn’t bother me. I’m not broke, I’m not rich, but I’m happy. So long as the work is fun and you’re happy, just do it.

During his tenure as Executive Chairman of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) from 2001 to 2007, a Singapore government agency focused on building up public scientific research capabilities, Mr. Yeo recruited leading international researchers to work on biomedical research in Singapore's biomedical hub Biopolis; launched the overseas and local training of 1000 PhDs over 10 years in biomedical science, physical science and engineering; and built Fusionopolis for the physical science and engineering research and development. He went on to become Senior Advisor for Science and Technology to the Ministry of Trade and Industry from April 2007 to September 2008.

Mr. Yeo has been equally active in the private sector, and has held positions on the boards of Singapore Technologies Holdings, SembCorp Industries, CapitaLand and United Overseas Bank.


For his extensive contributions to economic development and the promotion of international cooperation, Mr. Yeo has received numerous awards and accolades, including:

  • Order of Nila Utama (First Class), Singapore's most prestigious National Day Award (2006)
  • Indonesia's Bintang Jana Tama (the First Class Order of Service Award) (1994)
  • France's Ordre National du Merite (National Order of Merit) (1996)
  • Belgium's National Order of the Crown (1998)
  • CEO Lifetime Achievement Award, Asia Pacific IPA Awards (2003)
  • Honorary Doctor of Medicine, Sweden's Karolinska Institutet (2006)
  • Japan Nikkei Prize for Science and Technology (2006)
  • Harvard Business School's Alumni Achievement Award (2006)
  • Honorary Doctor of Science, Imperial College London (2007)
  • Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star, Japanese Government (2007)
  • Distinguished Service (Star) award, Singapore's National Trade Unions Congress (2008)
  • Engineering Alumni Medal, University of Toronto (2008)
  • 1st BioSpectrum Asia-Pacific Lifetime Achievement Award (2009)
  • Honorary Doctor of Letters, National University of Singapore (2011)
  • Honorary Doctor of Law, Monash University of Australia (2011)
  • Distinguished Alumnus Award, Eisenhower Fellowships (2014)