Singapore’s first Open Innovation Platform, A*STARTCentral Launched

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A*STAR Managing Director Dr Raj. Thampuran (centre) and ETPL Chief Executive Mr. Philip Lim (seventh from right) launching A*StartCentral together with partners, 21 Sept 2016 Credit: A*STAR
A*STAR Managing Director Dr Raj. Thampuran (centre) and ETPL Chief Executive Mr. Philip Lim (seventh from right) launching A*StartCentral together with partners, 21 Sept 2016 Credit: A*STAR

Singapore was recently ranked as the most innovative economy in Asia, and is also considered among the top 10 start-up ecosystems in the world. It is always abuzz with events that enrich and accelerate the startup ecosystem.

Last week, saw the conclusion of one such event- SWITCH consisting of anchor events such as Techinnovation and Techventure, two very established tech events in the Singapore tech calendar that aims to showcase Singapore’s vibrant entrepreneurial and technology innovation ecosystem.

Another major event was the launch of  A*StartCentral at JTC LaunchPad @ one-north – the first and only open innovation platform with life science lab facilities in Singapore.

This latest initiative by Exploit Technologies Pte Ltd or ETPL as it is popularly called, aims to support the startup ecosystem in the one-north community. ETPL is A*STAR’s commercialisation unit, spearheading their licensing and spin off or start up strategies and practice.

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A*StartCentral was started after they identified a major gap in the ecosystem. While there is a high percentage of incubators and accelerators in Singapore which cater to digital startups through their dry labs, access to physical facilities for Medtech and LifeSciences startups is virtually non-existent.

A*StartCentral wants to fill this gap by providing first; the hardware in the form of space, facility and wet lab infrastructure where members can create and test out design prototypes and hypothesis using ready-to-access tools and equipment; and second; support in the form of mentors, entrepreneurship programmes, bootcamps, funding and legal assistance, business networks and clinics.

A*StartCentral helps scientist-entrepreneurs to incubate their technology projects and startups, to provide pre-startup ideation and post-startup acceleration programmes, and develop a supporting community of strategic partners especially for Medtech and Life Science startups.

Says Dr. Raj Thampuran, Managing Director of A*STAR, “There exist an emerging, growing and vibrant number of startups in the ICT sector while the growth of Medtech and Life Sciences entrepreneurial efforts remain nascent. Our desire is to provide this chrysalis community the needed infrastructure and advisory support in their development process and coming of age.

“The genesis of A*StartCentral is our belief that there exists a need to accelerate the development of the many innovative technologies flowing from the well spring of R&D and to nurture startups at its embryonic stage in the MedTech and Life Sciences sector.”

Entrepreneurs will no more have to walk alone.

The 983 square meters facility which is strategically located at the heart of the one-north entrepreneurship community, serves as the nexus to bring together scientists, entrepreneurs, investors, mentors, incubators and accelerators under one roof.

Since its opening in March this year, A*StartCentral has attracted A*STAR spin-offs and licensees and promising companies which have emerged from across other research institutes and abroad.

It now houses over 12 start-ups and projects, comprising Medtech, biotech and Internet startups. At full capacity, it can incubate up to 25 startups. Some of the programme partners with whom they organize joint programmes to seed innovations include Joyful Frog Digital Innovation (JFDI) and the Singapore-Stanford Biodesign (SSB), Action Community for Entrepreneurship (ACE), SMART Innovation Centre, Tech for Good, Centre for Healthcare Innovation (CHI), Biotech Connection Singapore, TNB Venture.

A*START Central: Our objectives are to inspire, train, and support researcher entrepreneurs in building successful startups

Hugh Mason of JFDI at the launch event Credit: Biotechin.Asia
Hugh Mason of JFDI at the launch event Credit: Biotechin.Asia
Credit: Biotechin.Asia
Credit: Biotechin.Asia