The Asia-Pacific region now plays an important role in the global pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry as companies from the western economies try to take advantage of the emerging economies, such as China, Indonesia, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam. However, Singapore was the original gateway and hub to entering this region and so Liftstream looks at this key cluster within the Asian market.
The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) set about creating a range of facilities that would drive innovation and which would encourage biomedical companies to find synergies and benefits from working in close proximity to one another.
The development of Biopolis was undertaken in 5 phases.
Phase 1 cost S$500 million to build and was launched in 2003. 200,000sqm of research space was created which is now home to more than 2,000 scientists, researchers, technicians and administrators. The research community is fully supported by state-of-the-art infrastructure and services catering to the full spectrum of biomedical R&D activities.
Phase 2 was officially opened in 2006. The additional 37,000sqm of built-up area comprises two buildings – Neuros and Immunos.
Phase 3 was completed in January 2011. The 41,500sqm facility is set to tap on the synergies of the Biopolis cluster and support world-class research programmes in clinical and translational research as well as medical technology research.
The buildings of Biopolis are: Proteos, Matrix, Centrius, Chromos, Nanos, Helios, Genome, Immunos, Neuros, Synapse, Amnios.
Development for phases 4 and 5 are currently underway and slated to be completed in 2013. Phase 4 has been taken up by Procter & Gamble for its Singapore Innovation Centre, whilst Phase 5 will provide 46,182sqm of biomedical research facility for additional laboratory space, including ready-fitted laboratories (i.e. Shell-plus laboratory) which caters to biomedical SMEs and start-ups through saving the companies time and resources during their initial setup phase.
Biopolis provides researchers with cutting-edge shared facilities such as laboratories for DNA sequencing, flow cytometry, mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance staffed by trained technicians. Business support facilities such as meeting rooms and theatrettes are also available for rent. The goal is to help biomedical companies cut R&D capital spending so they can focus the investment on accelerating drug discovery and development.
Singapore was ranked second in the 2011/12 Global Competitiveness Report by the World Economic Forum and this environment is able to continue to draw global companies in the pharmaceutical and life science industries. Today companies like; Abbott, GSK, PharmaLogicals, Novartis, Merlion, MSD, S*Bio, Takeda, Inviragen and CellResearch Corp. However, it is not limited to pharma and biotech, as Medtronic the global medical device company invested heavily in Singapore and joins a number of important medical device companies. Today these companies and many more manufacture over S$21bn worth of medicines, nutritional products and medical devices for the global market. Specifically, biologics, rare and tropical diseases all feature highly among growth investment areas in Singapore.
Companies like Cytos Biotechnology, BioMerieux, Humalys and Siena Biotech are all in research collaborations in Singapore but it is also home to high numbers of smaller companies including Illumina, Scigen, Proligo Singapore, Chakra Biotech Pte, Invida Holdings, Veredus Laboratories and Innogene Kalbiotech. The combination of big pharma and biotechnology companies setting up in Singapore has led to the creation of a great number of interesting life science jobs for the international employment market.
Given the industry wide challenges facing the pharmaceutical and biotech markets Singapore has established itself as a highly conducive place to undertake research. Singapore has cultivated a network of government agencies, R&D infrastructure, access to diverse talents, hospitals, universities, CRO’s and manufacturing facilities, which has allowed a highly innovative culture to develop. This in combination with significant government funding, some S$16bn to date, and S$3.7bn over the next 5 years (2011-2016), plus a culture of public-private partnerships has allowed the Singapore biotech industry to expand rapidly. With this expansion comes the creation of many new jobs across the sector and the increase in employment opportunities has created great job prospects for local pharmaceutical and biotech professionals, as well as those wishing to apply their expertise in the global market by moving to Singapore.
With the industry’s eyes trained firmly on the growth markets to the east, and with China, Singapore and India shining brightly as fore-runners, Liftstream has chosen to highlight Singapore as a key biotechnology cluster for job growth and biotech investment. It is increasingly apparent among the European executive community that the appetite is growing for career opportunities in these emerging markets, where expertise is highly sought after and the capabilities that these western professionals can bring across the biotechnology research and development spectrum.
Following the decline in global markets, we are seeing slower growth and reduced investment in high-cost western markets and more transitioning of infrastructure and biomedical research to the East. Through this cluster profile, Liftstream hopefully has allowed you to look at Singapore as real alternative for your next career move.
For more information about the Biopolis cluster please refer to the following links: