A*STAR News

Empowering Asia's Next Generation of Healthtech Innovators

Singapore Biodesign nurtures outstanding individuals who have gone on to make waves in the local healthtech scene, taking up enabling roles such as entrepreneurs, project managers, business development managers, and clinician-innovators. As a validation of the success of Singapore Biodesign’s training programme, past Fellows have gone on to create exciting new innovations and start-ups.

A hearty congratulations to Singapore Biodesign’s class of 2020 Innovation and Faculty fellows, who graduated on 16 March 2021.

Empowering asia next generation of healthtech innovators
Singapore Biodesign Fellows (back row) together with Steering Committee Members and Guests-of-Honour (front row) at Singapore Biodesign’s graduation ceremony held on 16 March 2021.

As an A*STAR national platform for talent development, Singapore Biodesign nurtures a critical mass of innovation talent for both the public and private sectors. Its flagship fellowship programmes are centred around Biodesign, a needs-driven approach to the innovation process, with a strong focus on technology commercialisation and adoption. The programmes’ high-touch development of the industry's brightest talents features dedicated industry mentoring, and hands-on and experiential training.

An extraordinary year for the 2020 fellowship

In an unprecedented first, Singapore Biodesign’s 2020 programme was conducted amidst a global pandemic. Innovation fellow Dr Chen Kok Pun said, "We went through 10 months of the Biodesign process within the constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic, so we spent a lot of time on Zoom doing interviews for needs finding.”

Singapore Biodesign’s Innovation fellows proved themselves resilient and enterprising, making great strides despite the challenging situation. Gibson Lee added, "Things were very dynamic, as we had to constantly adjust to changes as the situation evolved. Our fellowship did not start with the usual clinical immersion, nor did we have visits to China or the United States. We had to be creative as we learnt to sieve out needs through interviews with our local clinicians."

Fortunately, the team was able to spend two weeks in National University Hospital (NUH), to do some needs-finding on the ground. John Ng commented, "The clinical immersion at NUH’s gastroenterology department was truly an eye-opening experience. This is where a non-clinician like myself was able to observe first-hand the challenges and pain points that medical teams encounter on a day-to-day basis. The networking opportunities with seasoned veterans within the medtech ecosystem in the Asia-Pacific region was also very insightful and pivotal in navigating a commercialisation pathway."

Accelerating innovative health technology

Anchored on the Biodesign innovation process, Singapore Biodesign’s programme produces a healthy pipeline of projects and successful spinoffs that look to address unmet healthcare needs in Asia. Dr Mary Kan, Programme Director of Singapore Biodesign, explains, "Our fellowship programme has not only served as a talent multiplier, but has also contributed to a significant number of innovations in the healthcare space."

Singapore Biodesign has played an important role in the local health technology (healthtech) ecosystem since 2010 - training over 755 talents, seeding 23 funded projects, and producing 10 spin-offs.

Just this year, two of Singapore Biodesign's fellowship pioneers, Ms Dorothea Koh and Mr Ruey Feng Peh, made waves in the local healthtech scene - raising S$5 million in Series A funding for startup BotMD, and heading R&D and Innovation at Genesis Medtech, respectively.

Mr Prusothman Sina Raja and Assistant Professor Benjamin Tee, from the 2014 fellowship, have also turned in an outstanding US$2 million seed-round for their startup, Hannah Life Technologies, an effective home-use fertility treatment for natural conception.

It is also heartening to see the coming together of Singapore Biodesign alumni with ecosystem players in Singapore’s fight against COVID-19, contributing innovations such as the Swabbot™, the world's first patient-controlled nasopharyngeal swab robot, and CovidBuddy, a tool to aid communications between COVID-19 patients and healthcare workers.

By investing in aspiring healthtech innovators as a foundation, and training them on a robust Biodesign Innovation Process that puts user needs at the core of concept development, the programme is well-positioned to accelerate the development of innovative healthtech and plug translation gaps in the local ecosystem.

Innovation and Faculty Fellows at Singapore Biodesign’s graduation ceremony
Innovation and Faculty Fellows at Singapore Biodesign’s graduation ceremony. Front row (from left): A/Prof Manojit Pramanik, Dr Su Yi, Dr Damien Tan. Second row: Dr Chen Kok Pun, Mr Gibson Lee, Mr John Ng

2020 Innovation fellows

Innovation fellows are motivated and passionate individuals who aspire to be innovators and enablers of healthtech innovation. Their participation in an intensive full-time 10-month Innovation Fellowship programme brings them through the ‘Identify’, ‘Invent’ and ‘Implement’ phases of Biodesign. They emerge as skilled practitioners of Biodesign, equipped to make significant contributions to Asia's healthcare industry.

SB - Kok Pun Chen

Dr Chen Kok Pun

Past Designation: Associate Consultant (Gastroenterology), Tan Tock Seng Hospital

M.B.B.S (Singapore), MRCP (UK), MRCP (London)

Always a curious person, Kok Pun enjoys talking to people from different fields and backgrounds as there is a lot to be learnt from everyone. He has just started learning Python during his free time (if any), to explore the applications of machine learning in medicine.

He believes that innovation and artificial intelligence will enable clinicians to deliver individualised care to patients and more time could be spent between doctor and patient rather than with a computer. He aspires to be an advanced endoscopist and a clinician innovator and would love to work with anyone who shares a similar passion as he does.

SB Gibson Lee

Mr Gibson Lee Soo Guan

Past Designation: Data Scientist, DSO National Laboratories

M.Eng in Control Engineering, NUS

Since graduation, Gibson has taken up various roles in the defence ecosystem, from software and system engineering to international collaboration. In recent years, his focus is on Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics. After working in the defence industry for a decade, Gibson is exploring a mid-career change into healthcare, and tackle the various challenges in healthcare he often hears from his wife, who is a doctor in a government hospital. He also sees how her work has made a difference to the patients and their families.

Armed with a strong technical background, Gibson wants to make a positive impact in the community through technological innovations. Gaining admission into Singapore Biodesign Fellowship will be a pivotal point in his career. The Fellowship opens up opportunities that will lead him to his goal of starting a health technology startup, to create an impact in healthcare.

SB John Ng

Mr John Ng Shen Him

Past Designation: Clinical Innovation Engineer, MedTech Core, Singapore General Hospital

Bachelor of Engineering (Engineering Product Development), SUTD with Magna Cum Laude Latin Honors

Graduating with a Magna Cum Laude from the Singapore University of Technology & Design in mechanical engineering, John’s expertise involves rapid prototyping, critical design thinking, advance additive manufacturing, mechatronics, clinical needs analysis, regulatory documentation (ISO 13485), IP management, and technology development.

He works closely with various venture capitalists, SMEs, contract manufacturers, research institutions and regulatory bodies affiliated with the health technology ecosystem, to bring to market novel concepts stemming from clinician innovators within the public healthcare system. John aspires that one day, his inventions would enter the global market and improve clinical outcomes.

2020 Faculty Fellows

Faculty fellows are driven faculty members, clinician-innovators or senior scientists, who have been identified as future leaders of healthtech innovation projects. They partake in a part-time six-month Faculty Fellowship programme that equips them with an understanding of the Biodesign methodology. The aim is to increase the robustness of their projects and to spearhead the integration of Biodesign into their institutions.

SB Manojit Pramanik

Assoc Prof Manojit Pramanik

Associate Professor and Assistant Chair at the School of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering, NTU

Ph.D., BME, Washington University
M.Tech, Indian Institute of Sciences
B. Tech, Elec Eng, IIT

Manojit’s industry experience includes two years at General Electric Global Research (GRC), Bangalore, India and one year at Philips Medical System, Bangalore, India. His research interests include development of photoacoustic and thermoacoustic imaging systems, image reconstruction methods, machine learning for photoacoustic imaging, clinical application areas such as breast cancer imaging, molecular imaging, contrast agent development, monte-carlo simulation for light transport in biological tissue etc.

Manojit has received multiple research grants as principal investigator, with a cumulative budget of over $3 milllion. He currently serves as an Editorial Board Member of the Journal of Biomedical Optics, Photoacoustics, and has authored more than 235 international journal and conference publications and presentations.

SB Damien Tan

Dr Damien Tan Meng Yew

Director, Endoscopy Centre and Senior Consultant, Gastroenterology and Hepatology, SGH
Assistant Professor, Duke-NUS Medical School

MBBS (Singapore)
MRCP (UK)
FAMS

Damien obtained his medical degree from the National University of Singapore in 1999 and was accepted as a member of the Royal College of Physicians (UK) in 2006. He achieved his specialist accreditation in the field of Gastroenterology and Hepatology in 2009. He was awarded the SGH fellowship award and Singhealth manpower development award in 2009 and he completed his advanced GI fellowship program (EUS) in Hospital Erasmus, Brussels, Belgium in 2010 and advanced GI fellowship program (ERCP) in Indiana University Medical Center, Indianapolis, USA from 2010 to 2011.

He is Senior Consultant with the Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Singapore General Hospital. He specialises in the diagnosis and management of pancreato-biliary disorders and therapeutic endoscopy such as ERCP and EUS.

SB Su Yi

Dr Su Yi

Deputy Executive Director, Strategic Planning & Development, IHPC, A*STAR
Co-Programme Director, Health & MedTech Horizontal Technology Centre, A*STAR

Ph.D., Mech Eng, NUS
B.Eng, Mech Eng, NUS

Over the past 19 years, Su Yi has carried out research and development in the areas of Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS), Aerospace Engineering, Geospatial Modelling, Biomedical Engineering and Botanical Modelling. He was the founding leader of the Geometrical Modelling Group and played a key role in driving the Computationally-driven Biomedical Research Programme at the Institute of High Performance Computing (IHPC), where he led the development of technologies in Computer-aided Cardiac Diagnosis, Image Analysis in Digital Pathology and Virtual Surgical Simulation.

He has won multiple competitive research grants from various grant bodies, such as A*STAR, National Medical Research Council, SingHealth Foundation and National Research Foundation. Based on the novelty and commercial relevance of his work, he has grown a portfolio of patents and had been awarded the second prize in the International 2014 PhysioNet/Computing in Cardiology Challenge and the “Best Innovation in Biomedical & Pharmaceutical Applications” in the National Instruments ASEAN Graphical System Design Achievement Awards 2011.

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