Singapore healthcare and biotech companies are making a bigger play in overseas markets like the United States, drawn by the country’s large market size and resources.
Among them is Singapore biotech start-up Lucence, which developed a blood test to profile cancer. The liquid biopsy tests, which it started using in Singapore in 2018, is said to be much less invasive than conventional tissue biopsy and takes less time to administer and diagnose.
The firm expanded to Silicon Valley three years ago. The move has enabled them to reach two-and-a-half times more patients in 2022 compared to the year before, said the firm’s CEO Dr Tan Min-Han. He noted that there are 19 million cancer patients diagnosed every year, with over 50 per cent presenting in late stage.
“Every two seconds, a new cancer patient is diagnosed, and I believe that having technology like ours is going to be critical not just to the United States, not just to Asia, but to the world,” he told CNA.
“It’s very much about making sure our technology can supply a very large market. And also, at the same time, we are always learning from our experiences both in the West and the East, so that we can continue to grow this technology globally,” he added.
US AS SOURCE OF TECH, INNOVATION, MANPOWER
The US is the right place for the firm’s expansion plans, according to Enterprise Singapore (ESG). The government agency has been linking medical firms up with potential partners and providing grants to help them scale up in the US market.
Mr Clarence Hoe, executive director for Americas and Europe at ESG, said that the US has several research institutions and a vibrant start-up community that offers some of the “top frontier technologies” and commercialises them.
“Singapore companies can see the US as a source of technology and innovation to partner them for these capabilities and look at how we can fine tune their value proposition and expand either in the US or in other parts of the world,” he said.
The US is also seen as a source of top talent in the field, a big part of what drew Singapore-based biomedical firm Engine Biosciences to San Francisco five years ago.
The company develops drugs for cancer patients, and said the biologists and chemists in the US have more experience in the field than those back home.
“The US generally is the most innovative in terms of the biopharma space. It’s also one of the largest markets in terms of revenue,” said the firm’s chief business officer Peter Ho.