Winners of the Singapore QuickFire Challenge – Metabolic Disease Innovation announced!


Felicitation of the winners of the Singapore QuickFire Challenge – Metabolic Disease Innovation: From (L-R) [From left to right] Dong Wu (Head, Asia Pacific Innovation Center, Johnson & Johnson Innovation), Sidney Yee (CEO, DxD Hub, ETPL), Prof Peter Droge (Nanyang Technological University, QuickFire Challenge Winner – Pharmaceutical), Alex Gilbert (Growth Manager, Medopad, Johnson & Johnson Innovation QuickFire Challenge Winner – Medical Devices), Dr Howard Califano (Director, Innovation Centre, Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology, SMART), Melinda Richter (Global Head, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, JLABS) and Philip Lim (CEO, ETPL)
Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Division of Johnson & Johnson (China) Investment Ltd., in collaboration with A*STAR’s ETPL and Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART), announced the winners of the Singapore QuickFire Challenge – Metabolic Disease Innovation last week at the Singapore-based SWITCH 2017 Conference’s Ecosystem Day forum. Each of the winners were awarded SGD 100,000 project money for research in Singapore, access to ETPL laboratory space, and one year of mentorship and coaching from Johnson & Johnson Innovation, ETPL and SMART.

The winning entries include a new type of biomarker-based prognostic to better predict risk and personalize treatment for patients with diabetes; a safer non-viral technological solution to decelerate progression of Wilson’s disease, and a real-time patient monitoring solution.

The Singapore QuickFire Challenge – Metabolic Disease Innovation was launched at BioPharma Asia in March 2017 in collaboration with ETPL, through its Diagnostics Development Hub, and SMART to attract entrepreneurs, academics and biotech researchers from around the world to submit the best ideas, technologies, or solutions holding the potential to make a major difference for the millions of people in the Asia Pacific region and around the world who suffer from metabolic diseases, such as diabetes and obesity.

The Challenge received a total of 38 applications from 13 countries with solutions across the pharmaceuticals, medical device, and consumer sectors.

In announcing the winners at Ecosystem Day, Melinda Richter, Global Head, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, JLABS said, “We reviewed a number of promising proposals through this QuickFire Challenge, and our three winners represent early-stage innovation with true breakthrough potential. We look forward to working closely with them as they advance their ideas with the goal of providing solutions to patients suffering from metabolic diseases.”

The winners of each category were:

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Singapore-based Nanyang Technological University, led by Dr. Harshyaa Makhija, Research Fellow, and Prof. Peter Droge, aims to develop a solution to improve outcome and decelerate progression among patients with Wilson’s disease. They have developed a non-viral-based genome insertion tool that can position large DNA fragments in pre-determined sites, to help restore therapeutic levels of the ATP7B protein1 and mitigate adverse effects associated with such insertions.

Consumer Health:

New Hampshire-based PreventAGE Health Care, led by Paul Beisswenger, M.D., CSO and Mark Carvlin, Ph.D., President and COO, employs precision bioanalytical techniques, predictive analytics, and proprietary algorithms to alert patients with diabetes to their personal risk for developing specific complications. Patient data is analyzed to identify and quantify a panel of selected biomarkers that are correlated with specific, life-threatening complications. The data is further analyzed and compiled into a report which is used by physicians and patients to predict risk, personalize treatments, improve outcomes, and reduce healthcare costs for patients with diabetes.

Medical Devices: 

London-based Medopad, led by co-founders Dan Vahdat, Ph.D. and Rich Khatib, Ph.D., is a CE-marked patient-monitoring software solution company which uses modular care-monitoring tools, vital data tracking, and real-time AI analytics to provide patients the ability to record their wellness in real time, self-monitor treatment regimens, and interact with care providers remotely. Both doctors and patients can use Medopad to track and communicate key diabetes indicators to improve care management and to monitor disease progression.

The QuickFire Challenge is managed by Johnson & Johnson Innovation, JLABS, a global network of open innovation ecosystems, enabling and empowering innovators to create and accelerate the delivery of life-saving, life-enhancing health and wellness solutions to patients around the world.