Updated on 29 October 2012
BioSingapore had put together a three-year plan previously which will be refreshed to meet the new challenges and growth opportunities of Singapore's Biomedical science industry.
Will there be more collaborations between BioSingapore and government bodies of Singapore?
Yes, we have realized that various initiatives and programs have been launched by SPRING, the EDB, WDA (Workforce Development Agency), Ministry of Health and A*STAR in the last few years to increase the competitiveness of the local industry. Some of these initiatives include the medtech accelerators, work skill qualifications for biomedical sciences, GET-Up program and Stanford Biodesign. However, many of these programs currently do not have industry representations to drive, promote and raise awareness. BioSingapore thinks that it can act as an aggregator of all these schemes and programs and help companies to leverage these programs.
BioSingapore will also try to act as the industry voice. This will enable BioSingapore to work closely with the various government bodies to draw out an industry roadmap for a vibrant biomedical sciences ecosystem in Singapore
What are the immediate challenges you see in the industry?
According to the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA), 377 biomedical sciences entities were formed between 2000 and 2010. With only 284 entities as of March 31, 2011, it would appear that at least 93 entities have either shut down or merged with others during this period. The ACRA classifies 95 of these companies, which is about 40 percent of the total number, as foreign-owned. This a worrisome trend for the fledgling industry as many of the local companies have cited challenges in obtaining funding, lack of scientific and entrepreneurial talent and a limited network of veteran industry professionals as key reasons for ceasing operations.
The emergence of vibrant bio-clusters in China, India, Taiwan and South Korea has also increased competition for Singapore. For example, Taiwan and Korea have had significant success in creating vibrant R&D and entrepreneurial focus in developing their IT and electronics sectors and have used a similar template to develop a burgeoning biomedical sector with a balanced mix of MNCs and local companies. Strong government support in these countries has helped them develop the local industry through venture funding, talent development and alignment of government-funded research institutions to applied research. This supports a pipeline of products and technologies that can be licensed and commercialized by local companies. This has resulted in various locally developed medical devices and drugs being marketed globally.