Q : “How many biotechs are there in Singapore?”
A : “There are around 200 biotechs but if you are talking about the successful ones, there are only a handful.”
This was one of many candid answers given by the expert panel made up of Singapore’s leading minds in the biopharmaceutical sector at the TotalBioPharma Live in Singapore meetup yesterday, 9th February 2015 at Creation Thearette, A*STAR Singapore.
The meetup saw more than 90 individuals from Singapore’s legal, investment advisory, banking and biologic manufacturing spheres. In collaboration with BioSingapore, the three hour networking session zoomed into Singapore biomedical industry’s trends and opportunities.
Dr Ong Siew Hwa (CEO, Acumen Research Laboratories and Council Member, BioSingapore) gave an insightful overview of how the biomedical industry developed through the years with the aid of strong governance and advocacy efforts to promote this sector. An example of such efforts include the promotion of the Biopolis. This once empty plot of land was thought to be a joke to the global biotech scene. Today, Biopolis stands at a sprawling 220,000sqm and is home to some of the world biopharma MNCs’ APAC HQs and R&D centres.
Mr Simranjit Singh (Senior Director – Strategic Planning of Quintiles Asia and Chair of BioSingapore) and Mr Bhuwnesh Agrawal (Chief Medical Officer, Vela Diagnostics and Council Member of BioSingapore) joined Dr Ong in a 30 minute panel discussion and tackled questions such as challenges faced by organizations when developing in Singapore, the familiarity of risk-aversion from investors when investing in such asset classes to a most simple question on the number of biotechs in Singapore – a reminder that while steps are in place, Singapore must present itself as the hub of startups, biotech companies with a lucrative pipeline and a sound exit strategy for investors.
“Never be afraid to try and try again” was one of the key takeaways Dr Ong shared with the crowd – reminding everyone despite the arduous journey, a person with tenacity and the positivism to keep trying will succeed in the biotech industry.
Discussions over dinner include brainstorming strategies for Singapore’s biopharma space to remain competitive and attractive for investors, how to mitigate risks in investing, striking partnerships amongst each other and the effects arising the ASEAN’s regulatory harmonization for its Life Sciences economic group.
One thing is for sure though. As Singapore embarks on its next phase to grow the sector, it is definitely set to go at top speed.
Asia is fast becoming a continent of choice for biopharma companies and maturing to compete in the global biotech space. Join us as we navigate Asia’s future in the biopharma industry at the BioPharma Asia Convention 2015 and get the first hand account of what Asia can offer to you.
We’ll see you at the next TotalBioPharma Live Meetup!