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2 February 2001



Major initiatives put Singapore on growth trajectory

1. The Biomedical Sciences1 industry's manufacturing output grew by 2.1 per cent to S$6.4 billion and its value added grew by 2.7 per cent to S$5.2 billion in 2000. A record total of S$800 million worth of manufacturing fixed asset investments was committed through 13 new projects. These investments would create 566 jobs, of which 68 per cent are skilled. 88 per cent of the total investment came from the Pharmaceutical sub-cluster.

2. Major initiatives were launched in 2000 to pave the way for the growth and development of the Biomedical Sciences industry across the value chain.

These initiatives included creating a more conducive environment for research and development activities to flourish, providing channels for the training and development of Biomedical Sciences research manpower, building up both the physical and regulatory infrastructure, and new funding for co-Investments.



3. While pharmaceutical revenues had benefited from many fast-growing blockbusters, the global pharmaceutical industry continued to be shaped by mergers and acquisitions leading to mega-pharmaceutical companies. The merger of Glaxo Wellcome and SmithKline Beecham, and Pfizer and Warner Lambert, were successfully completed. As a strategic manufacturing location for these companies, Singapore is likely to benefit from their larger product pipelines.

4. The Pharmaceutical sub-cluster in Singapore recorded a manufacturing output of S$4.9 billion, a slight dip of 0.7 per cent from 1999.

Its contribution to the total Biomedical Sciences industry's output is approximately 77 per cent and employment grew 8.8 per cent. The slight decrease in output was due to several companies' planned plant shutdowns for retrofitting and capacity expansion. New R&D activities were seen on the manufacturing front as companies such as GlaxoSmithKline and Schering-
Plough began to build capabilities in chemical process development.

Pharmaceutical companies also broadened the scope of their clinical research to include early phase trials, which have strong linkage to the upstream drug development phase.

Medical Devices

5. Medical Devices leaders continued to pioneer innovative products, leading to advances in medical technology. The greater understanding of genomics also offered vast opportunities for the industry to design diagnostic tests and equipment to identify genotypes and the genetic causes of diseases.

6. The Medical Devices sub-cluster in Singapore experienced double-digit output growth. The manufacturing output rose by 12.4 per cent from 1999 to $1.5 billion, which is 23 per cent of the total manufacturing output of the Biomedical Sciences industry in Singapore. The strong growth was largely due to the ramp up of manufacturing capacity and the setting up of new
production lines for higher-value products. Companies such as Siemens Medical and Applied Biosystems also expanded their R&D activities in Singapore.


7. The completion of the rough draft of the Human Genome map that determines everything from our physical features to complex biological functions marked a scientific milestone for humankind. However, the cracking of this genetic code is only the beginning. The preliminary outline of the DNA sequence is expected to help scientists identify the root causes of diseases,
leading to more effective treatments or outright preventatives.

8. Riding on the increased global interest in this area, the Biotechnology sub-cluster in Singapore saw an increase in activities from biotech companies, start-ups, research institutes and centres. The Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB), for instance, is part of an international consortium to map the puffer fish's genetic blueprint, which will lead to a greater understanding of the human genome. In addition, several new startup companies were established in 2000. These companies are engaged in a wide range of activities, ranging from basic R&D to product/process development, clinical trials and manufacturing of biotech products.

Healthcare Services

9. After several years of phenomenal growth, the global Contract Research Organization (CRO) industry saw an industry-wide slowdown largely due to a re-prioritization of R&D pipelines by pharmaceutical companies. However, growth is picking up as pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies intensify their outsourcing to reduce R&D costs.

10. The focus of the Healthcare Services sub-cluster is to build up services that support Biomedical Sciences research in Singapore and in the region.

These include CROs services and laboratory services. In anticipation of a stronger demand for CRO services, CROs in Singapore have expanded their services offering from the traditional clinical trials management to include a fuller-spectrum of product development and commercialisation services.


2001 Outlook for the Industry

11. The output and value-added growth for Singapore's Biomedical Sciences industry is expected to remain positive in 2001 as new pharmaceutical companies such as Merck Sharp & Dohme and Wyeth-Ayerst, and existing companies such as GlaxoSmithKline and Aventis that have expanded their plant capacity, commence production.

12. Positive growth is also expected to continue for the Medical Devices sub-cluster as companies leverage, not only on the high manufacturing standards in Singapore, but also on the strong R&D support from our research institutes, hospitals and universities.

13. The Biotech sub-cluster will see a surge in the breadth and depth of activities, which will lead to creating a broad range of employment opportunities across all levels and disciplines. 2001 will continue to see more knowledge exchanges with leading academic research institutions, and this will make Singapore an internationally vibrant place for biomedical sciences research and development.

14. Growth is expected to pick up for the CROs. The strong new product pipelines of pharmaceuticals and biotechnology companies and their interest to access the large patient pool in Asia should bode well for the Healthcare Services sub-cluster.

15. Overall, the EDB is confident that the strong foundation laid in 2000 will lead to greater vibrancy in Biomedical Sciences industry in Singapore. Our aim is to develop Singapore as a world-class hub for Biomedical Sciences activities, and for this industry to become the fourth manufacturing pillar. This industry is on track to achieving the target manufacturing output of $12
billion by 2005.

New Initiatives:

(i) Enhancing Public Awareness

16. Recognising the need for greater public awareness about developments in the Biomedical Sciences in Singapore, EDB and NSTB will jointly establish a National Biomedical Sciences Website at This site will be a one-stop platform with information on all biomedical sciences-related activities and initiatives in Singapore. The first phase of will be launched in March 2001. This website will target the following users:

a) Scientists and Researchers - for access to latest research developments in the biomedical sciences and to provide a platform for networking and exchange of ideas;

b) Entrepreneurs, Investors and Industrialists - provision of information on starting up biomedical companies, commercialisation of technologies and venture capital ;

c) General Public - provision of up-to-date information on biomedical sciences initiatives in Singapore, including public education and awareness events.

(ii) Plugging Singapore into the International Arena

17. EDB and NSTB will also jointly organize the first annual Symposium on the Biomedical Sciences in Singapore this year. To be called Biomedical Asia 2001, this three-day conference-cum-exhibition will be held at the Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Centre on 19-21 September 2001. This will be a major Biomedical Sciences event that will highlight emerging technologies and industry trends, and address the ethical, legal and social implications of biomedical research. The Symposium will feature internationally renowned biomedical scientists and industry experts, and provide valuable opportunities for local scientific communities to interact and communicate with top players in biomedical sciences.

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For more information, please contact Mr Vincent Huang, Senior Officer,
Corporate Communications, EDB at:
DID: 832 6087
H/P: 9766-8017
FAX: 336 5763

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