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Singapore Bridging Biomedtech and Healthcare

Image credit: ntu.edu.sg
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Co11ab Novena (co11ab), the first biomedical technology (biomedtech) incubator in Singapore to be embedded in a healthcare precinct, has officially opened through the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore), Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), and National Healthcare Group (NHG).

A S$15 million incubator co11ab is located at NTU Singapore’s Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine (LKCMedicine) Novena campus, aims to advance healthcare innovations by fostering a thriving ecosystem for biomedtech start-ups and bridging the gap between groundbreaking research and successful commercial ventures.

Its placement at a medical school, close to a hospital, national specialist centres, and research institutions, enables start-ups to tap both clinical and scientific expertise in the area. The co11ab arrives at a time when medical innovation is accelerating. According to Enterprise Singapore data, the biomedical innovation ecosystem in Singapore has risen roughly sixfold in the last decade.

The foundation of co11ab also aligns with the Human Health and Potential (HHP) area under the Research, Innovation, and Enterprise 2025 (RIE2025) agenda, which intends to grow life sciences as a pillar of Singapore’s economy. The co11ab has benefited seven start-ups so far.

During the unveiling of co11ab, Dr Janil Puthucheary, Senior Minister of State at the Ministry of Health, emphasised Singapore’s commitment to embracing innovation. He highlighted that Singapore is at the forefront of fascinating technological frontiers and that the RIE plan has laid the groundwork for the country’s scientific and technological breakthroughs.

The ongoing RIE2025 Plan continues to advocate frontier technologies, cultivating an innovation culture in the biomedical sciences with the ability to address today’s concerns and influence the future.

As society ages and healthcare demands rise, there is a greater need for accessible and inexpensive biotech, medtech, and digital health solutions. The estimate is astounding, with over 60% growth in the number of biotech enterprises in Singapore expected over the next decade.

This expansion emphasises the importance of capitalising on the insights and discoveries of biomedical researchers and scientists, particularly in areas such as precision medicine, biomedical technology, and diagnostics. These disciplines are critical to identifying transformative ‘medical moonshots’ that can drive preventative care programmes and assure their safe and successful implementation in Singapore.

However, the route of research and innovation is fraught with difficulties that necessitate daring solutions and joint efforts. The startup environment, which is critical for stimulating innovation, frequently faces several challenges in turning technologies into market-ready goods.

One crucial component is early physician involvement, which ensures that innovations are properly adjusted to fit local healthcare needs. The healthcare industry’s stringent regulatory environment can result in longer development cycles for startups. Likewise, the huge cost burden of owning specialised equipment and creating R&D facilities is a big hurdle for entrepreneurs looking to make a name for themselves in the field.

Among these difficulties is co11ab, an innovative programme that promotes digital innovation and promises to transform the biomedical scene. It acts as a transformational beacon in a healthcare setting that is becoming increasingly reliant on digital innovation.

The co11ab emerges as a key participant in an era where data-driven insights, AI-powered diagnostics, and digital interventions are transforming healthcare paradigms. It recognises digital innovation’s enormous potential for revolutionising the biomedical sector, not just as an add-on but as a primary driving factor.

As a national innovation and translational hub, co11ab envisions a future in which advances are not only scientific achievements but also tangible enhancements to the health and well-being of the whole nation.

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