Singapore’s Economic Development Board (EDB), which played an active role in bringing Lucasfilm Animation to Singapore, is equally tight-lipped on the project, the seeds of which were sown after board chairman Teo Ming Kian and Sim Wong Hoo, CEO of Creative Technology, initiated preliminary meetings more than 18 months ago.

Lucasfilm Animation intends the new animation studio to be in operation next year. “Creating a company here in Singapore was not really a hard decision,” said Mr Lucas, announcing his decision in August.

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“And it was made even easier by working with the EDB. [Singapore] has a great standard of living and a cosmopolitan flavour that will make it easy to attract great artistic talent.”

The joint venture, Lucasfilm Animation Singapore, is 75%-owned by Lucasfilm Animation and the remaining 25% is held by a consortium of Singaporean institutions, including the EDB, Singapore-based Creative Technology and Singaporean investment firm Stardust.

Although Singapore’s creative industry is growing fast, it is relatively young. California-based Lucasfilm Animation creative personnel will be brought in “to jumpstart the organisation”. However, the company does not anticipate bringing in a large number of US staff. “We believe there is talent here,” said Micheline Chau, chief operating officer at Lucasfilm.

Speaking at the launch party, Ms Chau said: “We’re excited about this new venture. Singapore was our location of choice for so many reasons: a growing talent base, the cosmopolitan flavour, and its attractiveness as a place to live. Our long-term partnership with the EDB gives us the resources to begin work almost immediately, working in concert with our animation unit in California.”

The local arts, media and design industries make up about 1.5% ($10bn) of Singapore’s economy and the government has set an ambitious target to double this contribution by 2012.

EDB chairman Teo Ming Kian said: “We look to Lucasfilm as a Queen Bee of sorts to help develop our industry. As an investor, we look to very good returns from this investment, but we see far more strategic returns to Singapore.”

Digital animation is a particularly fast-growing industry which is on track to surpass $120.4bn a year globally by the end of next year (see box on page 34).