Today SGInnovate announced its ‘Deep Tech Nexus’ Strategy
as a direct result of experiences and insights gained in its first year of
operation. The Deep Tech Nexus represents SGInnovate’s commitment to add
tangible value to the Singapore deep tech startup ecosystem in two key areas – Human Capital and Investment Capital. Three technology areas have been selected for focus during 2018: Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain and MedTech.
Mr. Leonard said, “SGInnovate is itself a startup and, to echo DPM Tharman’s point when he launched us last year, we will keep prototyping and pivoting in the coming years. Building deep tech companies takes time. We feel good about the impact we have already made, and are looking forward with confidence to the year ahead.”
As part of this strategy, SGInnovate has partnered with
like-minded industry players and global brands including General Assembly, GIC,
IBM, National Supercomputing Centre (NSCC) Singapore, Nurture.ai, NVIDIA, Red
Dragon AI and SingularityNET (Details of the partnerships are presented in the last section of the article).
SGInnovate was launched in November 2016 as a private
limited company wholly owned by the Singapore Government, to support and
develop the deep tech startup ecosystem in Singapore. It does so by investing in
deep tech startups, helping them source talent and finding early adopter
customers for them. It aims to leverage off Singapore’s strengths in academia
and scientific research and create globally relevant companies by filling a gap
in ‘business-building’ capabilities.
By the end of 2017, SGInnovate will have completed equity
investments in 15 deep tech startups, played a part in generating 400
potential-customer leads for early-stage companies and built a network of more
than 1,000 technical individuals interested in joining early-stage tech
Mr. Steve Leonard, Founding CEO, SGInnovate said that Deep
Tech Nexus strategy is built upon insights gained over the first year of
operations of SGInnovate.
“Over the past year, we have met and worked with hundreds of
researchers, founders, corporates and investors. Being so immersed in the deep
tech founder community has given us a rich understanding of the specific
challenges facing these entrepreneurs. Tackling these challenges gives our
second year of operation great clarity and focus – and this has led to our Deep
Tech Nexus Strategy,” he said.
Mr. Leonard outlined certain challenges faced during the
first year, primarily attributable to risk aversion and inadequate knowledge on
the part of different stakeholders. There wasn’t as much interest from the VC (venture
capital) community for investing in very early stage deep tech companies as was
expected. Often they are not very familiar with technologies, like say computer
vision. Mr. Leonard said that the landscape is improving and one of the
goals of SGInnovate’s community events for the coming year would be to generate
more opportunities for people to know what’s happening at the cutting edge of
Secondly, many are willing to be teammates no. 3 or 4, but not
enough people are willing to take the plunge to be the initial founders of a
startup. Most people would like to keep their day jobs, while trying their hand
at a startup. Finally, there is scope for improvement in the participation of large
corporates, which have a critical role to play in the startup ecosystem. Though
most corporates are talking about innovation, setting up innovation labs, there
is a lack of connection at the moment with startups. There needs to be greater
engagement on that front.
At the same time, there has been more than expected interest
in the community events. As part of its deep tech community building efforts,
SGInnovate has created and hosted more than 100 events at its premises
attracting a total of 9,000 participants. Now SGInnovate’s challenge is to help
realise that evident potential. For the coming year, SGInnovate is targeting
150 community events at an average of 2-3 every week, drawing a total of 15,000
The coming year
Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain and
Based on market demand, SGInnovate has decided to focus in
three technology areas for the coming year: Artificial Intelligence (AI),
Blockchain and MedTech. Mr. Leonard said that AI and blockchain kept on coming up in conversations throughout the year.
The first two are transformational technologies that
have horizontal applications to many industries.
During 2018, SGInnovate, which is a part of AI.SG,
will be intensifying its efforts around AI, aligning with AI Singapore (AI.SG)’s
mission to bring together Singapore-based research institutions, AI
startups and corporates to enhance and expand Singapore's AI capabilities.
SGInnovate will focus its efforts on the AI startups area.
In the area of MedTech, SGInnovate will adopt a more ‘bespoke’
approach, working closely with companies on a one by one basis. This will happen
on a limited scale but the impact of success could be huge.
(OpenGov asked Mr.
Leonard during the media Q&A for a clarification regarding whether market
demand was more about entrepreneurs, corporates or investors. Mr. Leonard
replied that SGInnovate takes an entrepreneur first approach. Its objective is
to help them realise their vision. So, SGInnovate would not seek out startups for
finding solutions to defined problem statements from corporates or try to build
a company which does A, B, C and D as demanded by an investor.
But SGInnovate invests
in entities, which have gone through the Entrepreneur
First program, which validates that these companies have something of value
to potential customers, which is the corporates. Similarly, drawing investor interest
is essential for survival. So, it is about striking balance between helping the
entrepreneurs express themselves and meeting the requirements of investors and
SGInnovate’s work in the area of Human Capital will be
pursued in three ways:
Strengthening Individual Talent Capabilities through
a range of deep tech related learning opportunities. A series of programmes
delivered by industry leaders will be undertaken to help people gain knowledge
in working with tools at various competency levels in areas such as Machine
Learning, Deep Learning and Data Analytics. The goal is to have 1,500 people
participate in these programmes over the next two years.
Expanding Deep Tech Talent Network through active
engagements locally and internationally to build an ever-increasing network of
ambitious and capable people who want to build startups. The goal is to bring
2,000 high-potential talent into contact with high-potential deep tech startups
based in Singapore by 2018. One of the initiatives being driven by SGInnovate
in expanding the deep tech talent network is its Apprenticeship Programme,
where a curated pool of students in STEM disciplines from local and overseas
Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) are placed within a select number of
Singapore's promising deep technology startups.
Strengthening Deep Tech Communities through a host of
deep tech related networking events by bringing together researchers,
entrepreneurs and investors to share experiences on a wide range of topics.
These events serve as a way to raise the intellectual debate, as well as pursue
opportunities to get more people to know more about important future topics.
The goal is to have 15,000 participants taking part in over 150 events
throughout 2018 across various community meet-ups.
Investing Equity in Early-Stage Deep Tech Startups. The
goal is to make direct investments into at least 20 deep tech startups founded
in Singapore in 2018 ranging from pre-seed (less than 100,000), seed (100,000
to 1 million) to Series A stages (more than 1 million). SGInnovate will also be
managing a portion of the SG Equity fund, and will be co-investing into deep
tech startups alongside private-sector VCs including Jungle Ventures, NSI
Ventures and Vickers Partners.
Business Building Support where SGInnovate will
journey with startups in which it invests, supporting them in growing and
scaling their businesses – via connection to business use cases, customer
sales, talent acquisition, technical advisory and more.
Collaborative Spaces where deep tech startups,
education events and community events can co-exist for mutual benefit. All
activities will continue to take place at SGInnovate’s locations at 32
Carpenter Street (more than 16,000 square feet) and BASH (more than 25,000
In line with the Deep Tech Nexus Strategy, BASH will be
undergoing renovation works and will be operational again in Q1 2018. Some key
features of the revitalised BASH will include more enclosed rooms to allow
early-stage companies to have privacy (such as AI companies concerned about the
confidentiality of their data), expanded training areas to house more education
programmes in areas relating to AI, and access to AI-tuned computing resources.
In addition, there will be a new area dedicated to the companies formed under
the Entrepreneur First (EF) Singapore programme.
List of partnerships
SGInnovate will work with General Assembly to organise workshops and courses in
Python, Machine Learning and Data Science, to equip an estimated 250 trainees
with fundamental programming skills and principles before moving on to more
advanced Deep Learning concepts.
will work with GIC, which manages to Singapore's foreign reserves, to co-curate and/or co-brand industry events, targeting areas
related to AI, machine learning, data analytics and deep tech ecosystem. These
events will focus on promoting thought leadership and community building by
bringing in subject matter experts to talk about key industry trends, and
real-world applications of AI and deep technologies.
will work with IBM to organise AI training courses for undergraduate students
from IT related academic programmes such as computer science and software
engineering. The AI career path aims to prepare an estimated 50 students in
applying AI in real life.
SGInnovate and IBM would engage with the AI and deep tech
ecosystem through co-curated and/or co-branded industry events. These events
would focus on industry trends, case studies, real-world applications, etc. of
AI and deep technologies, including (but not limited to) blockchain, robotics,
machine learning, and medtech. These events will take place regularly, with a
target of 10-12 events in 2018.
Supercomputing Centre (NSCC) Singapore: SGInnovate will work with NSCC to
organise training in AI and High Performance Computing. SGInnovate-supported
startups and trainees will have access to HPC/AI computing resources, which
will include those provisioned under the NSCC-NVIDIA AI.Platform collaboration
(comprising DGX-1 Volta V100 and access to Saturn V), as well as NSCC’s
existing 1 PetaFLOPS supercomputing called ASPIRE1 (Advanced Supercomputer for
Petascale Innovation, Research and Enterprise) that comes with 13 petabytes of
high performance storage with global connectivity at up to 100Gbps.
will be working with Nurture.ai to build a strong community of enthusiasts and
experts who would be trained in AI. Nurture.ai enables this through organising
free study groups using Stanford University's course material on deep neural
networks, where participants get to discuss the most cutting-edge AI models
covered in the lectures, read the relevant research papers with peers and
implement these models as open-source code.
SGInnovate is also a partner to the Global NIPS Paper
Implementation Challenge organised by Nurture.ai, which has seen more than 600
applications globally so far and 30+ expert mentors including researchers from
the Baidu Silicon Valley AI Lab, Amazon Core Machine Learning Research team,
NVIDIA, SAP, Stanford University and several authors of papers accepted at the Conference
for Neural Information Processing Systems – the most prestigious AI research
conference in the world.
with NVIDIA Deep Learning Institute (DLI), SGInnovate will be conducting DLI
workshops and offering hands-on training for developers, data scientists, and
researchers looking to solve the world’s most challenging problems with deep
learning. The goal is to train 1,000 developers over the next two years.
Red Dragon AI: SGInnovate
will be working with Red Dragon AI to organise various advanced AI training
sessions. Using industry standard frameworks such as TensorFlow, Keras &
PyTorch, students will learn Deep Learning as applied to a variety of different
practical applications including computer vision, natural language and time
series information. They will then be applying those skills to make real world
AI products and services. At least 100 students will participate in the
advanced training sessions over the next year.
With a member count of close to 2,000, Red Dragon AI would
be looking to organise multiple TensorFlow, PyTorch & Deep Learning meetups
with SGInnovate in the next year. The target is to reach out to more than 1,000
with SGInnovate, SingularityNET will co-host meetups and provide speakers and
technical experts in the areas of blockchain, smart contracts, AI &
robotics to drive discussions and inspire new ideas. In 2018, the target is to
reach out to a community of over 2,000 people.
Through the partnership, startups within the SGInnovate
community will get early access to SingularityNET, with SingularityNET
providing technical guidance to enable them to integrate, monetise and scale
their AI technologies.
Departing from one of the busiest airports in the world is about to become a remarkably hassle-free experience. Singaporean ministers have just unveiled plans for an automated immigration clearance system that promises to revolutionise travel with no passport required. This groundbreaking development at Singapore’s Changi Airport is set to launch in 2024.
According to Communications Minister Josephine Teo, this ambitious project intends to eliminate the need for tourists to “repeatedly present their travel documents.” Instead, biometric data gathered from fingerprint scans and facial recognition technology will take the central stage.
While Changi Airport already employs biometric technology in its automated immigration lanes, these upcoming enhancements will take convenience to a whole new level. The goal is to make the entire airport experience smoother and more streamlined for passengers.
Singapore’s Communications Minister, Josephine Teo, proudly announced that Singapore is set to be among “the first few countries in the world” to implement such a groundbreaking system. The first phase of this transformative scheme is expected to roll out early next year, featuring QR code scanning points that will pave the way for the biometric revolution.
These innovations are made possible by recent amendments to Singapore’s immigration laws, which facilitate the widespread adoption of biometric clearance at airports and various other checkpoints. The result will be a travel experience where your personal information seamlessly verifies your identity at every stage, from check-in to boarding.
This monumental shift in travel procedures brings with it a multitude of benefits. Firstly, it eliminates the stress and anxiety associated with keeping track of physical documents throughout the journey. No more worrying about losing the passport or having it stolen, hence, the identity is in the hands, quite literally.
Additionally, using biometric data enhances security measures, making it even more challenging for unauthorised individuals to access restricted areas. It’s a win-win situation for both passengers and airport authorities.
Singapore’s Changi Airport is on the cusp of transforming the way of travelling. The introduction of an automated immigration clearance system powered by biometric data promises a future where passports and boarding passes become relics of the past.
Instead, a simple fingerprint scan or facial recognition will grant access to a seamless, stress-free journey. Singapore is leading the charge into this new era of travel, and the world will be watching closely as the innovation unfolds.
The New Clearance Concept (NCC) and Services Centre Next Generation (SCNG) are two initiatives that the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) implemented to enhance border clearance and registration services, as well as automated immigration clearance and digitalisation.
The Automated Clearance Initiative (ACI), which takes effect in May 2022, allows passport holders from 51 countries to use designated automated immigration lanes without prior enrolment. Over four million international visitors have been enrolled through ACI to date. The electronic visit pass (ePass) contains information on eligible foreign visitors’ enrolment.
During the pandemic-induced slowdown, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS), in collaboration with Changi Airport Group and ground handling partners, has accelerated trials of autonomous vehicles (AVs) at Changi Airport’s airside. This time period was used to direct resources and capabilities towards technological and innovative developments.
Advanced robotic systems and adaptive platforms are also being developed to resist varied weather conditions and work well outside. These developments are intended to make aircraft turnaround operations and baggage handling easier, especially in inclement weather. CAAS is committed to strengthening its capabilities in order to manage the anticipated increase in air traffic, with a focus on both safety and efficiency in its operational approach.
A leading U.S.-based global player in the realm of advanced technology and innovation is embarking on a significant expansion venture into Malaysia. The CEO of the enterprise unveiled an ambitious strategy during a meeting with Malaysia’s Minister of Investment, Trade, and Industry in New York City, aiming to invest a substantial sum exceeding RM2 billion over the span of seven years.
The construction of a cutting-edge manufacturing facility is already underway, which will serve a dual purpose as a global research and development hub, focusing on pioneering technology platforms. By the year 2024, this organisation foresees a pivotal role in augmenting production capacity and accommodating the ever-evolving demands of its expansive worldwide clientele.
The Minister offered a warm reception to the global expansion, accentuating the organisation’s initial investment commitment of RM500 million. This commitment dovetails seamlessly with Malaysia’s New Industrial Master Plan 2030, underlining the importance of nurturing an investment-friendly environment and swiftly assimilating technology into the manufacturing sector.
It solidifies Malaysia’s stature as a global epicentre for technology and innovation, fostering collaboration between the organization and local industry stakeholders, all while promising a surge in quality employment opportunities for Malaysians.
The CEO of the Malaysian Investment Development Authority conveyed his excitement regarding this significant commitment, recognizing its potential to catalyse mutually beneficial partnerships with domestic industry players, particularly in high-value, high-growth sectors. The organization’s long-term presence in Malaysia is poised to make a substantial contribution to the nation’s economic growth and development, with MIDA pledging unwavering support.
The President and CEO of the company expressed a sense of pride in expanding its global footprint and elevating its operations in Malaysia through the establishment of a cutting-edge manufacturing facility in Johor Bahru. This facility is slated to become the linchpin for catering to global customers across diverse sectors and holds the promise of swift market entry. The suite of incentives offered by various government entities, spanning federal, state, and local levels, coupled with robust infrastructure support, make this expansion a judicious and strategic investment.
OpenGov Asia recently reported that the substantial investments pouring into Malaysia during the first half of 2023, totalling RM132.6 billion (US$28.4 billion) and expected to generate over 51,853 job opportunities, are a clear testament to the nation’s attractiveness to global investors. These investments align perfectly with Malaysia’s vision of becoming a prominent hub for technology, innovation, and economic growth.
The Minister of Investment, Trade, and Industry (MITI) expressed his satisfaction with Malaysia’s performance, emphasising the nation’s consistent efforts to attract high-quality investments and drive economic growth. Importantly, Malaysia managed to secure an impressive 60.3% of its annual investment target within the first half of the year, reflecting its ability to execute on its investment plans effectively.
A significant portion of these investments, 52.2%, came from Domestic Direct Investment (DDI), totalling RM69.3 billion (US$14.8 billion). DDI’s remarkable growth, a 58.2% increase compared to the previous year, was driven by investments in services and the primary sector, notably real estate. This surge in domestic investment showcases the confidence of Malaysian businesses in the nation’s economic prospects.
Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) also played a pivotal role, contributing 47.8% of total approved investments, equivalent to RM63.3 billion (US$13.6 billion). Notably, Singapore emerged as the leading source of FDI with RM13.7 billion (US$2.9 billion), followed closely by countries such as Japan, the Netherlands, China, and the British Virgin Islands. This international investment inflow underscores Malaysia’s global appeal and its ability to attract funds from diverse sources.
Malaysia’s ability to attract significant investments, coupled with its supportive policies, strategic positioning, role as a supply chain hub, and growing innovation capabilities, reflects the nation’s commitment to becoming a global technology and innovation hub while fostering economic growth and job creation.
A representative of the country’s think tank, the National Institute of Transforming India (NITI Aayog), Ramesh Chand, formally introduced the Unified Portal for Agricultural Statistics (UPAg Portal). This marks a significant step in tackling the complex governance issues in India’s agricultural sector. It is designed to optimise and elevate data management within the agricultural sphere. It will contribute to a more efficient and responsive agricultural policy framework.
The portal standardises data related to prices, production, area, yield, and trade, consolidating it in a single location. This eliminates the necessity to compile data from multiple sources. The portal can also conduct advanced analytics, providing insights into production trends, trade correlations, and consumption patterns.
Furthermore, the portal will produce granular production estimates with increased frequency, improving the government’s capacity to respond swiftly to agricultural crises. Commodity profile reports will be generated using algorithms, reducing subjectivity and providing users with comprehensive insights. Users also have the flexibility to use the portal’s data for crafting their own reports, fostering a culture of data-driven decision-making.
The portal was developed by the Department of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare (DA&FW). During his speech, Chand hailed the platform as an investment and a monumental leap forward in the field of agricultural data management. He encouraged the audience to embrace a shift in mindset within agriculture, aimed at bringing about transformative changes. Research suggests that US$ 1 invested in data generated a US$ 32 impact, he said.
The portal empowers stakeholders with real-time, reliable, and standardised information, laying the foundation for more effective agricultural policies. He also asserted that when data is more objective, the room for subjective judgment in policy-making diminishes, resulting in more stable, transparent, and well-informed decisions. He advised that the portal should prioritise data credibility to maximise its effectiveness.
Secretary of the DA&FW, Manoj Ahuja, underscored the various ongoing initiatives by the department, such as the Krishi Decision Support System, the farmer registry, and crop surveys. He articulated that the UPAg Portal is envisioned as a public good, aiming to provide users with reduced search costs, minimised obstacles, and access to trustworthy, detailed, and impartial data. According to a press release, the UPAg portal tackles the following challenges:
Lack of Standardised Data: At present, agricultural data is scattered across multiple sources, often presented in diverse formats and units. The UPAg Portal’s objective is to centralise this data into a standardised format, making it easily accessible and understandable for users.
Lack of Verified Data: Reliable data is crucial for accurate policy decisions. UPAg Portal ensures that data from sources like Agmarknet is vetted and updated regularly, ensuring policymakers receive accurate information on agricultural prices.
Fragmented Data Sources: To construct a comprehensive understanding of any crop, it is necessary to consider multiple variables such as production, trade, and prices. The portal consolidates data from various sources, enabling a holistic assessment of agricultural commodities.
Inconsistent Frequency Variables: Data updates at different times, causing delays and inefficiencies. The portal offers real-time connectivity with data sources, reducing the time and effort required for monitoring and analysis.
The UPAg Portal is expected to play a pivotal role within the Digital Public Infrastructure for Agriculture, focusing on harnessing the diversity of the agriculture sector and leveraging data as a catalyst for growth.
The University of Michigan has developed machine-learning algorithms technology. This new technology can identify problematic areas in antibodies, making them less susceptible to binding non-target molecules. This innovative development, led by Peter Tessier, the Albert Mattocks Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences at U-M and the study’s corresponding author in Nature Biomedical Engineering, presents a ground-breaking solution to enhance the effectiveness of antibodies in fighting diseases.
“Antibodies play a crucial role in our immune system’s defence mechanism by binding to specific molecules known as antigens on disease-causing agents, such as the spike protein on the COVID-19 virus,” Tessier expressed, “Once bound, antibodies either directly neutralise harmful viruses or cells or signal the body’s immune cells to take action.”
However, there’s a challenge associated with antibodies designed to bind strongly and rapidly to their specific antigens. These antibodies may also bind to non-antigen molecules, leading to their premature removal from the body. Moreover, they can interact with other antibodies of the same type, forming dense solutions that do not easily flow through the needles used for delivering antibody drugs.
Tessier highlighted the importance of antibodies that can simultaneously perform three critical tasks: tightly binding to their intended target, repelling each other, and disregarding other substances within the body. Antibodies failing to meet all three criteria are unlikely to be successful drugs. Unfortunately, a significant number of clinical-stage antibodies fall short in this regard.
In their recent study, Tessier’s team assessed the activity of 80 clinical-stage antibodies in the laboratory. It made a startling discovery – 75% of these antibodies interacted with the wrong molecules, with each other, or both. To address this issue, the team turned to machine learning.
By making subtle changes to the amino acids that make up an antibody, they can alter the antibody’s three-dimensional structure. This modification helps prevent antibodies from behaving improperly, as an antibody’s structure determines the substances it can bind to. However, making changes without careful consideration can introduce more problems than they solve, and the typical antibody contains hundreds of amino acid positions that could be altered.
Fortunately, machine learning offers a streamlined solution. Tessier’s team created models that are trained using experimental data collected from clinical-stage antibodies. These models can precisely identify how to modify antibodies to ensure they meet all three criteria mentioned earlier, with an impressive accuracy rate of 78% to 88%. This approach significantly reduces the number of antibody modifications that chemical and biomedical engineers need to produce and test in the lab.
Tiexin Wang, a doctoral student in chemical engineering and a co-author of the study, emphasised the pivotal role of machine learning in accelerating drug development. This advanced technology is already attracting attention from biotech companies, which recognise its potential for optimising the development of next-generation therapeutic antibodies.
Tessier concluded by mentioning that some companies have developed antibodies with desirable biological activity but are aware of potential challenges when using these antibodies as drugs. In such cases, Tessier’s team steps in to identify specific areas within the antibodies that require modification, offering valuable assistance to these companies.
The National University of Singapore (NUS), Temasek, and Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) have inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to begin a collaborative S$75 million pilot programme that intends to hasten the development of profitable deep tech start-ups from NUS and NTU research pipelines.
Additionally, a shared Intellectual Property (IP) licencing framework between NTU Singapore and NUS would speed up the licencing and translation of university innovations for spin-off businesses. In contrast to the typical process, which can take up to five months, the outcome will be a shorter one-month process.
“The collaboration sees us synergising our expertise and resources to create opportunities for applications of emerging technologies and empower start-ups and companies to create positive societal impact and economic growth through innovation,” said Professor Tan Eng Chye, President of NUS.
He added that NUS is excited to leverage its rich expertise and experience in entrepreneurship and innovation to help mature its deep tech ecosystem and facilitate and accelerate IP commercialisation through the framework.
NTU and NUS will each contribute S$5 million to the deep tech start-ups, with Temasek contributing S$65 million. In order to start and develop globally competitive businesses with tremendous potential to address significant global market opportunities in areas including the energy transition, biotechnology, and the future of computation and cognition, Temasek and a deep-tech company will work with NTU and NUS.
To build and refine their go-to-market plans, the deep tech founders will work with the university technical and intellectual property teams. The start-ups will also have access to the networks of firms and mentors offered by Temasek, NTU, and NUS. Every year, at least two start-ups will be introduced, and to help them position themselves for long-term success on a global scale, they will get investment, support, and entrepreneurial mentoring.
Temasek makes investments in cutting-edge innovation to pinpoint and develop skills that are future-focused. By investing in and developing future deep tech champions, its Emerging Technologies division helps to scale Singapore’s deep tech ecosystem and finds disruptive technology investment possibilities that address market nuances.
To give prospective licensors a one-stop shop where they may find and choose IPs from both universities that meet their business needs, NTU and NUS will also create a single online portal.
Advanced materials, biotechnology, quantum computing, and artificial intelligence (AI) are among the cutting-edge topics that deep tech businesses frequently concentrate on. By helping these entrepreneurs, Singapore can encourage ground-breaking inventions that could revolutionise whole sectors of the economy and enhance human welfare.
The nation acknowledges that deep tech companies can boost economic growth, add to the GDP of a nation, and generate high-value jobs. These firms frequently draw talent and call for certain talents, which helps to create new sectors and grow ones that already exist.
Numerous deep tech startups are tackling urgent global issues like cybersecurity, healthcare, and climate change. By helping these firms, technology that tackles these important problems may be developed.
Investing in the development of deep tech startups can provide nations and regions with a competitive edge in the global technology market. Through the promotion of creativity and enterprise, they can establish themselves as pioneers in developing technological domains.
The benefits of nurturing deep tech businesses are not limited to the technological and commercial spheres; they also include wider societal advantages. These businesses frequently tread new ground in ways that improve people’s quality of life and promote environmental sustainability.
The Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) participated in the “Think Business, Think Hong Kong” symposium organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) on September 19th at the Carrousel du Louvre in Paris.
HKSTP, Hong Kong’s largest innovation and technology (I&T) ecosystem and incubator, will led a group of leaders in the health and biotech sectors to discuss how Hong Kong can support biotech startups and major pharmaceutical companies in France to expand successfully and tap into the vast potential of Asia’s healthcare markets. In turn, French expertise and talent will contribute to Hong Kong’s aspiration to become a global hub for biotech and innovation technology.
Key figures like France’s Minister for Foreign Trade, Economic Attractiveness, and French Nationals Abroad, and the Financial Secretary of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government will join prominent business leaders at the event, including the Chairman of HKTDC, and the CEO of HKSTP to explore collaborative opportunities between the French and Hong Kong I&T ecosystems.
The Asia Pacific region is poised to be the world’s fastest-growing biotech hub, with a projected compound annual growth rate of 16.9% from 2022 to 2030, according to Vision Research. This region is witnessing improvements in healthcare infrastructure, supportive government policies, and the increasing challenge of an aging population. Hong Kong’s strategic location makes it an ideal gateway to both the substantial North Asian markets and the rapidly expanding Southeast Asian economies.
To address these opportunities and challenges, HKSTP is hosting a biotech-focused session and pavilion at the “Think Business, Think Hong Kong” symposium. Four prominent executives from thriving Hong Kong-based biotech companies will showcase the city’s capacity to drive innovation on a global scale.
In parallel, French startups, fuelled by record funding in 2022, are seeking expansion opportunities, aligning with the French government’s Healthcare Innovation 2030 plan. This plan, with a substantial budget, aims to position France as a leader in biotech innovation in Europe.
The CEO of HKSTP emphasised that Asia, and Hong Kong in particular, provides diverse opportunities for French biotech companies to scale up and venture into global markets. French expertise will also play a crucial role in Hong Kong’s ambition to become an international innovation hub.
Hong Kong’s position as Asia’s leading biotech funding hub is reinforced by the Hong Kong Stock Exchange’s biotech-friendly Chapter 18A listing policy. Additionally, it ranks 12th in the World Index of Healthcare Innovation, surpassing countries like the United Kingdom and Canada. The government’s support includes the InnoHK initiative, featuring 14 research clusters dedicated to biomedical and health tech, situated at Hong Kong Science Park.
HKSTP has established a thriving, fully integrated biotech ecosystem that guides ventures through every stage of the startup-to-scale-up journey. It hosts around 250 biotech ventures, benefiting from incubation programs such as the dedicated Incu-Bio program, subsidies, and supportive government policies. Hong Kong boasts world-class talent, with five universities ranked in the top 100 globally, and China’s projected annual output of 77,000 STEM PhDs per year by 2025, surpassing the US.
Moreover, HKSTP has fostered significant collaborations with global pharmaceutical leaders and healthcare institutions, facilitating expansion into the Greater Bay Area (GBA), China, the Asia Pacific, and global markets.
Hong Kong already boasts a substantial French presence, with 800 French businesses, including subsidiaries and regional headquarters, according to the French Embassy. Interested parties can participate in the HKTSP biotech pavilion and hear from leaders in biotech innovation, as well as other experts in the innovation ecosystem, at the “Think Business, Think Hong Kong” symposium.
In Singapore’s healthcare landscape, Prof Kenneth Mak, Director-General of Health at the Ministry of Health, emphasised the significance of the theme “Reimagining Possibilities – The Pharmacist’s DNA” at this year’s congress which underscores the adaptability and crucial role of pharmacists in healthcare.
Prof Kenneth stated that like DNA’s unchanging core, pharmacists must uphold their fundamental values while adapting to challenges like an ageing population and increasing healthcare expenses. Telemedicine emerges as a pivotal avenue through which pharmacists are driving the transformation of patient-centred care.
“As we journey towards Healthier SG and beyond, pharmacists are at the forefront of digital innovation in healthcare,” said Prof Kenneth. They are embracing telemedicine, collaborating with other healthcare professionals, and continually evolving to meet the challenges of a changing healthcare landscape. The pharmacist’s DNA remains rooted in patient-centred care, but it also incorporates innovation and adaptability, making pharmacists an essential part of the future of healthcare.
Telemedicine, the remote delivery of healthcare services using digital technology, has gained momentum globally, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has revolutionised the way patients access medical care, allowing them to consult with healthcare providers from the comfort of their homes. The integration of pharmacists into telemedicine initiatives holds immense promise in improving healthcare accessibility, efficiency, and patient outcomes.
One significant step towards this future is the Healthier SG campaign, launched by the Ministry of Health in July 2023. This campaign underscores the importance of preventive care in the communities, emphasising healthier lifestyles and overall well-being.
Pharmacists, deeply embedded in their communities, play a crucial role in educating the public on medication management, health screenings, and vaccinations. They also collaborate with family doctors, supporting patients in their journey towards healthier lives, including smoking cessation and adopting healthier behaviours.
Innovations like Pharmaceutical Care Services (PCS) exemplify how pharmacists are empowering patients. PCS, initiated in senior care centres, equips patients and caregivers with the knowledge and tools to manage medications independently. Feedback indicates increased patient confidence in medication management, aligning with the goals of Healthier SG. Expanding PCS to primary care settings like general practitioner clinics and retail pharmacies will make this service even more accessible.
The collaboration between community pharmacies and telemedicine providers represents another leap in healthcare innovation. Pharmacies partnering with telemedicine providers enable them to triage patients, conduct history-taking, and refer them to teleconsultations with doctors. This seamless integration of services ensures patients receive comprehensive care at their convenience, bridging the gap between pharmacy and telemedicine.
The role of digital technology in telemedicine is pivotal, as it enables the delivery of healthcare services remotely, bridging geographical barriers and improving access to care.
Telemedicine platforms serve as comprehensive digital ecosystems that support various aspects of virtual care. They offer features like appointment scheduling, secure video conferencing, electronic health records (EHR) integration, and billing. These platforms streamline the telemedicine workflow for both patients and healthcare providers.
Additionally, digital technology plays a crucial role in the development and use of specialised telemedicine devices, such as telemedicine carts equipped with cameras and medical instruments. These devices are used for remote examinations and diagnostics.
AI-driven algorithms and machine learning models assist healthcare providers in diagnosing conditions, predicting outcomes, and personalising treatment plans. AI can analyse large datasets to identify patterns and trends that might not be readily apparent to humans.
In partnership with the Ministry of Manpower, the Pharmaceutical Society of Singapore (PSS) is contributing to healthcare workforce development. Customised training programmes are being developed to upskill healthcare associates, enabling them to play essential roles in areas like medication management and patient inquiries, particularly in caring for migrant workers.