- Category: Management
- Published on Thursday, 22 November 2012 20:09
Lee Eng Keat, International Director (Asia Pacific) of the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), speaks about the synergy between India and Singapore in the pharma industry and how it has established itself as the global hub in Asia
|Lee Eng Keat|
Even as an increasing number of Indian companies expanding overseas, Singapore is considered as an attractive investment location. Accounting for 24.3 per cent of all Indian outbound investments between 2008 and 2011, Singapore is Indian companies’ destination of choice, with large numbers hailing from the IT, infrastructure and trading sectors. Another sector that offers synergy between India and Singapore is the pharma industry. Singapore’s strategic location to access global markets, state-of-the-art infrastructure, proven track record in R&D, innovation and manufacturing, and availability of top scientific talent has established it as a global hub in the heart of Asia.
Singapore: Gateway to other markets
Singapore is a trusted location for Indian companies to access and manage global markets. More than 4,000 Indian enterprises have incorporated in Singapore, with a growing number basing their regional or international headquarters there to coordinate overseas operations. Indian companies tap on Singapore’s strong pool of multi-disciplinary talent and business-friendly policies to drive their growth. For example, Fortis Healthcare, one of India’s largest healthcare companies, has established its international headquarters in Singapore and recently announced plans to list its clinical establishment division on the Singapore Stock Exchange.
Within the global pharma sector, eight of the top 10 have regional headquarters in Singapore to drive global business expansion in Asia and across the emerging markets. Especially with Singapore’s central location and neutral role in Asia, companies can navigate complex Asian regulations and healthcare policies from
Singapore. For example, GlaxoSmithKline has based its emerging markets and Asia-Pacific headquarters in Singapore to manage all emerging markets – from Southeast Asia to the Middle East and Latin America. Indian pharma companies can leverage Singapore’s efficient and pro-business environment, talent and trusted reputation to achieve the next leap in their global ambitions.
Accelerating drug discovery through strong research and top scientific talent
The Biopolis of Asia, Singapore aims to be a leading international biomedical sciences cluster advancing human health by achieving excellence across the entire value chain. The government continues to invest in research and innovation, committing S$16.1 billion between 2011 and 2015, of which S$3.7 billion is dedicated to the biomedical sciences.
Singapore has a strong reputation for scientific and clinical excellence. Its scientific foundation includes seven biomedical research institutes and five research consortia in key fields such as clinical sciences, genomics, bioengineering, molecular/cell biology, medical biology, bio-imaging, bio-processing and immunology. Its Biopolis biomedical science cluster brings together world-class facilities, scientific expertise and specialised services, with the co-location of public sector research institutes and private sector corporate labs driving cross-fertilization of ideas between the public and private sectors. For example, Singapore scientists from the Bio-processing Technology Institute (BTI) have, for the first time, identified the molecular ‘switch’ that directly triggers the body’s first line of defense against pathogens, enabling the development of the most comprehensive and rapid H5N1 bird flu test kit available to date.
In its public research hospitals, Singapore has developed Investigational Medicine Units (IMU) dedicated to First-in-Human/ Early-Phase trials and has committed to double the community of clinician scientists who have deep knowledge of clinical needs and disease biology. Increasingly integrated, the close partnerships between Singapore's public research institutes, hospitals and contract research organisations offer new models of collaboration for Indian companies seeking to improve R&D productivity. For example, the newly-established Translational Imaging Industrial Lab – a collaboration between the Singapore Bioimaging Consortium (SBIC) and Maccine, a leading non-human primate CRO – offers companies innovative research tools and world-class expertise for preclinical imaging to accelerate the advancement of drug lead candidates. In Singapore, Indian companies can access a global talent base, unique patient pools representative of all major Asian genotypes (Chinese, Malay and Indian) and forge collaborations with the Singapore-based research community. Notably, in August 2012, Singapore’s Agency of Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) signed an MoU with India’s Department of Science and Technology to drive greater cooperation between the two countries with joint workshops and grant calls.
Fast, quality and world-class manufacturing industry
Singapore has a proven manufacturing track record for both speed and quality, where companies can manufacture world-class drugs across various modalities (small- and large-molecule, cell therapy). Manufacturing output of the biopharma industry reached S$22.8 billion in 2011, expanding by more than 30 per cent from the previous year.
Attracted by the excellent physical and regulatory infrastructure, global connectivity and skilled manpower available in Singapore, seven of the world's top pharma companies have invested in 30 commercial-scale manufacturing facilities. These companies operate multi-purpose plants with the capability to manufacture a wide range of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), biologics and nutritionals. Singapore has made significant inroads in biologics manufacturing, with Baxter, Lonza, GSK and Roche announcing their investments to set up major biologics facilities that amount to $2 billion in capital expenditure. To date, all pharma manufacturing facilities that have commenced commercial operations have received validation from international regulators – the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the European Medicines Agency (EMEA) and Japan’s Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency (PMDA).
Singapore offers a stable environment for global manufacturers, including a 360-hectare stretch of ready and specifically-zoned land called Tuas Biomedical Park (TBP), for pharma and biologics manufacturing. Equipped with established infrastructure such as roads, drainage systems, power, water supply, telecommunication lines, third-party utilities (steam, natural gas, chilled water, waste treatment), TBP presents a plug-and-play environment that enables sciences companies to set up manufacturing facilities here with minimal lead time.
With Asia's best healthcare system and world-class medical practice, Singapore has achieved world class standards in the sector due to its strong focus on innovation and quality. Singapore continues to be committed to co-create innovative healthcare solutions with leading company partners.
The author can be contacted at Eng_Keat_LEE@edb.gov.sg