June 18, 2014 11:05 am JST

Singapore's science agency, South Korean health dept. partner to attract biomed business

TOMOMI KIKUCHI, Nikkei staff writer

SINGAPORE -- Singapore's Agency of Science, Technology and Research is partnering with South Korea's Health Industry Development Institute to attract small and medium enterprises in the biomedical industry to operate in the city-state. The two nations launched the new facility in Biopolis, Singapore's biomedical hub, on Monday.

     The new KHIDI-A*STAR Medtech Development Centre is intended to provide international exposure and nurture South Korean SMEs to make them relevant on a global scale. It will also offer Singaporean biomedical companies business opportunities to partner with their South Korean counterparts. The center is aimed at facilitating South Korean research, trials, registration and commercialization of biomedical products in Singapore. A*STAR will match these companies with Singaporean partners to co-develop products.

     The two institutions have also set aside $5 million for a joint research fund, made available for companies that establish a base in Singapore. So far, seven South Korean SMEs have expressed interest in the program.

     For South Korea, nurturing SMEs is in line with government moves to generate technological innovation and entrepreneurship in an economy dominated by conglomerates such as Hyundai and Samsung. The partnership comes at a time when competition against Chinese companies is intensifying across major industries such as electronics.

     The new center is expected to provide new opportunities for Singaporean biomedical firms. A*STAR has been the driver for attracting global corporations in biomedical and healthcare industries to set up operation in the city state. While research, development and production facilities for these companies have indeed generated high-income jobs, locally-born biomedical firms are still in their infancy. The joint venture will also open opportunities for Singapore to learn from South Korea's medical industry.