A gateway to the Asia Pacific Medtech sector
According to Minister for Trade and Industry S Iswaran, Singapore is in an excellent position to be a gateway to tap the ever-growing medical technology sector in the Asia Pacific region, which is set to overtake Europe by 2020.
The region is projected to grow from US$88 billion in output in 2015 – with Singapore contributing about S$10 billion – to US$133 billion by 2020. Further growth is forecast for the next 10 years to US$190 billion, which amounts to one-third of worldwide sales and will surpass the output of the European Community.
Speaking at the Medical Manufacturing Asia and Medical Fair Asia exhibitions in 2016, Mr Iswaran had said: “The Medtech sector is different from many other sectors, in that there are high barriers to entry at many stages of its value chain. At the research and development stage, high barriers to entry arise due to long development timelines and strict regulations which are necessary to safeguard the testing of new devices, as well as the need to navigate the patents and intellectual property rights space.
“At the production stage, there are high barriers to entry arising from the need for highly specialised equipment to deliver the levels of precision required in the manufacturing process."
Success stories through government initiatives
In order to help companies overcome these challenges, the Government is offering assistance through various grants and schemes.
One company which has benefited from such support is Neurostyle. Together with A*STAR’s Institute for Infocomm Research, it has come up with a system to help stroke patients in their recovery, especially in regaining the use of their limbs. A clinical trial is currently underway at Tan Tock Seng Hospital.
As recently as August, Australian start-up Anatomics, a medical technology company which creates customised products for individual patients’ needs, announced it would team up with Nanyang Technological University to research and develop new 3D printing materials and smart implants for medical devices.
Anatomics also signed a joint venture with manufacturing firm Ultra Clean Technologies Singapore to produce their 3D-printed personalised medical devices and make them commercially available to the Asian market.
Drive towards being a world-class research hub
To harness the region’s potential and possibilities, 30 global medical technology companies such as Biosensors, Becton Dickinson, Alcon and Hill-Rom, as well as Singaporean start-ups like HealthSTATS and Veredus Laboratories, now carry out R&D in areas such as technology and product development from Singapore.
With supporting infrastructure in Singapore dedicated to the Medtech industry, such as the Medtech Hub, Biopolis and Tuas Biomedical Park, a sophisticated ecosystem is in place for the firms and companies in the bio-cluster community to quickly set up and operate here.
Also, medical technology companies are able to access innovative ideas from partnerships with public-sector researchers and clinicians, advanced technologies provided by global industry leaders and test-bedding infrastructure in hospitals.