Updated on 6 March 2014
Mr Koh Jin Hoe, International Director (Asia-Pacific), Singapore Economic Development Board (SEDB)
As the newly appointed international director, Asia Pacific, Singapore Economic Development Board (SEDB), Mr Koh Jin Hoe, for the first time exclusively talks to BioSpectrum about the pharmabio industry and the transformation over the couple of years in Singapore.
How has the pharmabio industry in Singapore grown over the years?
Koh Jin Hoe: At present, more than 30 of the world's leading biomedical sciences companies such as Pfizer, Merck Sharpe & Dohme, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis and Takeda maintain a significant presence in Singapore, which speaks strongly of the sector's growth. The biomedical sciences (BMS) industry has rapidly grown to become the fourth pillar of Singapore's economy. Since 2000, BMS manufacturing output has increased by nearly five-fold from $6 billion in 2000 to $29.4 billion in 2012. Increasingly, companies are drawn to Singapore for our best-in-class manufacturing capabilities and to tap on a significant portion of the global supply chain that has shifted to Asia.
In less than five years, Singapore has become home to eight biologics manufacturing facilities, including two latest investments by Novartis and Amgen, amounting to $500mil and $200mil respectively. Singapore has committed S$16.1 billion in continued support of research, innovation and enterprise activities between 2011 and 2015. Out of the S$16.1 billion, S$3.7 billion (23 percent) is allotted to enhancing the existing biomedical R&D infrastructure.
What kind of progress has been achieved in the field of clinical research in Singapore?
Koh Jin Hoe: Singapore has made significant progress in translational and clinical research. We currently have three Investigational Medicine Units dedicated for early-phase trials in public hospitals. The Singapore Clinical Research Institute, for example, focuses on supporting later-stage trials and bears the responsibility to develop Clinical Research Networks (CRN) in Asia-Pacific to support multi-site, multi-national clinical trials. These facilities will in turn support the growing community of clinician scientists in Singapore.
In term of translational research capabilities, Singapore is by far one of the most advanced nations in the region. We currently hold an excellent track record in conducting clinical trials at global standards and have a progressive regulatory agency. For this reason, we have seen an increase in the number of innovative early phase trials including first-in-man studies done in Singapore - positioning us as an R&D leader in Asia. Singapore has also established Clinical Trials Networks across the Asia-Pacific, including the Asia-Pacific Hepatocellular Carcinoma (AHCC) Trials Group, Family Medicine Research Network (FMRN), Pan-Asian Resuscitation Outcomes Study (PAROS) and so on.
What kinds of collaborations exist between Singapore research institutes and hospitals?