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Singapore’s medtech boom

A slew of innovative ideas are pushing the envelope of patient care technologies.

Former polytechnic biomedical engineering lecturer and R&D scientist John Chee is on the cusp of global medical prominence. The Singaporean’s start-up company, Ayzer Sense, has invented a type of mattress that would solve the bedsore problem that afflicts bedridden patients, especially the elderly. Current practice to prevent the condition from arising entails moving a patient constantly but it’s tedious. If a patient receives inadequate attention, bedsores can lead to infection and even death.

Armed with the blueprint of his invention, Chee approached Trendlines Medical Singapore executives, who saw the potential in his idea. They decided to incubate the company and help him develop the product. He is now Ayzer’s chief technical officer and is collaborating with doctors from National Healthcare Group (NHG) to validate the mattress’ effectiveness and fine-tune the product.

“It is a great idea and we are happy with the progress of this product,” says Eric Loh, CEO of Trendlines, an incubator that is headquartered in Israel. “The unique thing over here in Singapore is that we have a partnership with NHG, and together with the clinicians identify problems and find solutions to address clinical needs that are not yet met adequately. We have since started another company based on our collaboration with two NHG doctors.”

Trendlines is among a growing number of incubators, accelerators and start-ups that are betting on Singapore’s growth as Asia’s top medical technology (medtech) hub.

(RELATED: Medical technologies: 6 Singaporean start-ups innovating in the field

According to an Economic Development Board report published in April last year, Singapore’s talent, infrastructure and technological advantages have led numerous Western medtech firms to establish a presence in the country. This sector’s manufacturing activity in Singapore, it adds, generated a total output of more than $11.5 billion and hired 13,900 employees in 2016.

The city-state’s status as a global financial capital, the ease of doing business in Singapore, and its growing prowess as a technology hub, especially in artificial intelligence, are big pluses, says Abel Ang, executive director and group CEO of Advanced Medtech Group.

“We have a great environment for medtech start-ups in Singapore and this is the reason why we have more than 400 of them located here,” he adds. “We have a liberal seed funding environment, strong government support, available facilities, well-trained talent and rule of law.”

Advanced Medtech is South-east Asia’s largest medical device company that focuses on urology devices. Last September, it opened a $10 million technology centre in Tuas to incubate its portfolio firms. Adds Ang: “Medtech is a sector that is highly sensitive to innovation and technology disruption. Among the exciting trends today are robotic surgery, big data analytics of vast amounts of available clinical and treatment data, and artificial intelligence.”

(RELATED: How medical upstart Good Pharmaceutical found success in Singapore)