Kevin Tan, Assistant Head of the Pharmaceuticals & Biotechnology Sciences group with Singapore’s Economic Development Board spoke Monday about Singapore’s biomedical strategy and the interrelationship between health care delivery and research. The country’s overall strategy to be a biomedical hub strengthens its position as a medical travel destination, especially for complex procedures and treatments.
Singapore is pursuing a holistic strategy comprising small molecule pharmaceuticals, biotech drugs and biotechnology, medical devices, and services, and spanning the value chain from discovery through manufacturing. The country has attracted scores of well-known international companies in each of the sectors. Large pharma companies including GSK, Lilly and Novartis have continued to expand their operations within Singapore after their initial investments paid off.
The government is taking a three-pronged approach:
- Human capital development — developing and attracting talent with scholarships for PhDs, post-doc programs, and global outreach
- Development of intellectual capital — through public R&D spending, spin-offs based on public R&D, and from industry-sponsored R&D by international and local companies
- Development of industrial capital –through direct investment in infrastructure, promotion of investment, and equity investment (there is a government backed VC firm, for example)
Singapore is emphasizing the translation of R&D into commercial products, a worthy objective that has proved elusive elsewhere. The country’s small size, deliberate strategy and history of pulling together to tackle major initiatives may help it succeed.July 23, 2007