The Inaugural Diagnostics Summit Showcases The Thriving Medtech Industry In Singapore

Welcome Remarks by Chairman PC: A*STAR
Welcome Remarks by Chairman PC: A*STAR

The two-day, inaugural Diagnostics Summit 2016 was organized last week in Biopolis by Singapore’s Diagnostics Development Hub (DxD Hub), a national initiative led by A*STAR’s commercialisation arm ETPL. The Guest of Honour for the event was the Chairman of A*STAR, Mr. Lim Chuan Poh.

For the first time, DxD Hub is bringing the inaugural Diagnostics Summit to Asia, a global diagnostics conference series which gathers global key opinion leaders in diagnostics to generate discussions and develop collaborations which will help to address the unmet clinical needs in this rapidly expanding field.

Diagnostics represent not only the highest revenue segment of the medical devices market, they are also the much needed medical decision-making tools for timely treatment and better patient management. These are the critical tools in keeping the ever-rising healthcare cost under control.

The global market for diagnostics* was estimated at $57 billion in 2014, and is expected to grow at CAGR of 6% to $81 billion by 2020. [*clinical diagnostics or in‐vitro diagnostics (IVD) market includes instruments, assays and services that aid in the diagnosis and treatment of human disease]

While the US remains the biggest market at 43%, Asia is the fastest-growing region with a double-digit growth rate of almost 13%.

Singapore has a thriving medtech industry and is home to more than 30 medical technology companies, and they have chosen to set up their R&D headquarters or centres of excellence here. These include global companies such as Roche Diagnostics, AB SCIEX, Baxter International, Becton Dickinson, BIOTRONIK, Hoya Surgical Optics, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Medtronic and Siemens Medical Instruments.

About DxD Hub

In 2014,  ETPL launched the Diagnostics Development (DxD) Hub as a national initiative to capitalize on the R&D output in biomarker discoveries, and to accelerate the transformation of diagnostics IPs into clinically validated diagnostic devices that are ready for market adoption.

Through the DxD Hub, they hope to attract and anchor more companies that are looking to soft-land and use Singapore as a launch pad into Asia. In addition, the continuous stream of world-leading diagnostics IPs, developed in collaboration with the hub, would themselves attract more complementary technologies to also be incubated and developed here.

Speaking at the event, Mr. Lim Chuan Poh, Chairman of A*STAR praised the DxDHub for establishing valuable partnerships. “Within two years of its launch, DxD Hub has already formed multiple partnerships across both public and private sectors, and amassed a database of over 350 diagnostics IP leads. By creating an attractive pool of investible diagnostic assets, it would attract more talent to capitalize on the opportunities and generate more vibrancy in our entrepreneurial ecosystem. With more players in the diagnostics field, we can look forward to seeing more innovative products from Singapore entering the global market. “

Recent Collaborations

Some of the recent collaborations of DXD Hub include:

  • Collaboration with bioMérieux, a world leader in the field of in-vitro diagnostics, to develop diagnostic tests that will allow for a quicker and more accurate diagnosis of infectious diseases such as Zika.
  • DxD Hub is also working closely with MiRXES, a Singapore headquartered life sciences company, to develop non-invasive blood-based molecular diagnostic tests. With just a few drops of blood serum, the tests are able to yield results for early detection of gastric and breast cancer within hours. The team expects to submit clinical validation data for regulatory approval in late 2017.

The event saw poster presentations and many exciting Plenary talks and Keynote presentations by distinguished scientists from Singapore and across the globe including Prof. Fred Kramer, NJ Medical School Rutgers University, USA; Dr Steven Myint, Senior Fellow, A*STAR who spoke about the funding landscape in Asia, Mr. Jean-Luc Butel, President, K8 Global and Senior Advisor, McKinsey & Company, who spoke on the Diagnostics Ecosystems in Asia-Pacific.

9th Distinguished Technopreneur Speaker Forum

Distinguished Technopreneur Speaker Award (From left to right) Mr Philip Lim, CEO, ETPL, Dr Rudi Pauwels, CEO of Biocartis, and Mr Lim Chuan Poh, Chairman, A*STAR Credit: A*STAR
Distinguished Technopreneur Speaker Award (From left to right) Mr Philip Lim, CEO, ETPL, Dr Rudi Pauwels, CEO of Biocartis, and Mr Lim Chuan Poh, Chairman, A*STAR Credit: A*STAR

The highlight of the summit was the 9th Distinguished Technopreneur Speaker (DTS) Forum on 14 October 2016. The DTS Forum invites luminaries around the world to share their experiences in science and innovation, with an aim to seed innovation and entrepreneurship in Singapore. The speakers are selected based on their proven records of adopting technology and innovation to create value-add and wealth for their communities. This year,  Dr. Rudi Pauwels, CEO and founder of Biocartis, a global and innovative commercial stage molecular diagnostics company based in Belgium was the Distinguished Technopreneur Speaker.

Dr. Pauwels is a pharmaceutical scientist and a serial entrepreneur who was among the pioneering group of HIV/AIDS researchers dedicated to the search and development of anti-HIV drugs. His passion to help patients and deep understanding of drug resistance mechanisms have led to the birth of next generation anti-HIV drugs, and several other successful biotech companies.

Under the aegis of his leadership, the company has raised close to a quarter billion euro in equity financing. Under his leadership, Biocartis developed its flagship product Idylla™, which aims to be one of the first molecular diagnostics platforms that can be operated outside of specialized, dedicated lab environments, and without the need for technically trained staff.

In 2015, Biocartis listed on Brussels Euronext stock exchange where it raised 115M euro. Biocartis was the most successful IPO (Initial Public Offering) in the European Life Science scene the past decade.

It is noteworthy to mention that, DxD hub and Biocartis had established a partnership to jointly develop a range of high precision molecular diagnostic tests for Biocartis’ molecular diagnostics Idylla™ platform, with a main focus on cancer biomarkers.

Credit: A*STAR
Credit: A*STAR

The two-day summit also had numerous networking sessions giving the participants an opportunity to seek out collaborations and meaningful partnerships.