Singapore Government Promotes Growth of Local Biomedical Companies

The Singapore government has set aside another S$25 million (US$14.3 million) to distribute to promising companies in the life-sciences industry. Singapore’s Economic Development Board has already spent in excess of S$150 million (US$86 million) in 50 portfolio companies. The money will come from the S$1 billion (US$572 million) Biomedical Sciences Investment Fund. The fund was established to assist local scientists to push their research into commercial enterprises. Under this so called BMS Inc. plan, local companies that show promise can stand to receive S$250,000 (US$143,000) in initial grants and up to S$2 million (US$1.14 million) in subsequent funding.

Two local companies that are first to receive the grants are Promatrix Biosciences, a start-up from Johns Hopkins Singapore (an international research arm of Johns Hopkins University located in Singapore), and Attogenix Biosystems, a spin off from a joint project between the Defense Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University (NTU). Promatrix is developing a new kind of tissue scaffold. The scaffold provides a structure for which different types of cells can be grown. It is designed for application in the building of tissue walls and blood vessels. The second company, Attogenix is developing a diagnostic chip. The chip would be capable of analyzing small amounts of blood to test for the presence of diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, and tropical soil disease through genetic processes.

Chairman of the Agency of Science, Technology and Research, and Co-chairman of the Economic Development Board, Philip Yeo, said, “We have successfully attracted international pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical-technology companies to Singapore…We must now encourage and nurture our own home grown biomedical-sciences companies.”