The Biomedical Sciences Initiative
The Singapore Biomedical Sciences (BMS) initiative was launched in June 2000 to develop the Biomedical Sciences cluster as one of the key pillars of Singapore's economy, alongside Electronics, Engineering and Chemicals.
To achieve its aim, the BMS initiative is led by the Research, Innovation and Enterprise Council (RIEC), chaired by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and coordinated by a BMS Executive Committee, chaired by A*STAR Chairman and the Permanent Secretary for Health. The Executive Committee draws on the combined experience of the Biomedical Sciences International Advisory Council (BMS IAC) comprising renowned scientists for strategic advice and guidance.
Three key agencies work in close coordination and in an integrated fashion to develop the BMS cluster.
- The Biomedical Research Council (BMRC) of A*STAR funds and supports public research initiatives.
- The Economic Development Board's (EDB) Biomedical Sciences Group (BMSG) promotes private sector manufacturing and R&D activities while Bio*One Capital functions as the biomedical investment arm of EDB.
- The Ministry of Health’s (MOH) National Medical Research Council (NMRC) funds and supports public research initiatives, as well as awards medical research fellowships for the development of medical research manpower.
This integrated approach involves various initiatives such as establishing research infrastructure, supporting the industry, providing venture capital support and strengthening manpower capabilities.
Phase 1 (2000-2005): Building the Foundation
The first phase of development (2000-2005) focused on establishing a firm foundation of basic biomedical research in Singapore.
Five of BMRC's research institutes developed core public research capabilities in the areas of bioprocessing, chemical synthesis, genomics and proteomics, molecular and cell biology, bioengineering and nanotechnology, and computational biology. In a partnership between BMRC and sister council, the Science and Engineering Research Council, the Institute of Chemical and Engineering Sciences' Chemical Synthesis Laboratory @ Biopolis provides capabilities in chemistry. All these support the BMS cluster, comprising the four key sectors: pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, medical technology and healthcare services.
Phase 2 (2006-2010): Strengthening Translational and Clinical Research Capabilities
The second phase of development (2006-2010) focuses on strengthening capabilities in translational and clinical research, while continuing to build up basic research capabilities. Translational and Clinical Research (TCR) capabilities are essential to translate basic discoveries in the lab into clinical applications to improve human healthcare. BMRC's Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences (SICS) and Institute of Medical Biology (IMB) conduct translational and clinical research to bridge the gap between bench and bedside. BMRC has also launched consortia initiatives, which place significant emphasis on translational research in key areas, such as the Singapore Cancer Syndicate (SCS), Singapore Bioimaging Consortium (SBIC), Singapore Stem Cell Consortium (SSCC), Singapore Consortium of Cohort Studies (SCCS) and Singapore Immunology Network (SIgN). These consortia also optimise Singapore's available resources, allowing for integrated development in strategic areas of biomedical research.
Phase 3 (2011-2015): Capturing Opportunities for Greater Economic and Health Impact
Building on this foundation created over the last 10 years, BMRC will support the next phase of the BMS Initiative through focusing its efforts in 3 main areas to capture the growing opportunities arising from global trends in the BMS industry.
1. Enhanced Industry Engagements for Greater Economic Outcomes
2. Focusing on Mission-Oriented Programmes with high growth potential
3. Seamless integration and translation as key competitive advantages
To achieve this, several new initiatives have been introduced:
- A*STAR, EDB and NMRC have also jointly set-up the Singapore Biomedical Sciences Industry Partnership Office (BMS IPO) to serve as the one-stop coordinating office between the various research agencies and performers in Singapore with MNCs seeking to establish multi-party collaborations.
- BMRC’s research will focus on Mission-Oriented Programmes in the areas of Biologics, MedTech and also Nutraceuticals/Cosmeceuticals to draw on existing strengths and capitalise on growing market sector to create better economic value.
- BMRC will be establishing technology platforms that will bring together researchers and groups from different disciplines in synergistic ways, so as to provide multi-disciplinary solutions to problems of interest to industry.
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