Welcome Address by Mr Lim Chuan Poh, Chairman A*STAR, at the SSB Graduation Ceremony on Wednesday, 5 December 2018, at Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre

Welcome Address by Mr Lim Chuan Poh- Chairman A*star- at the SSB Graduation Ceremony

Distinguished Guests-
Friends and colleagues-
Ladies and Gentlemen-
A very good evening to all of you.


It is my pleasure to be here tonight.

Let me first extend a warm welcome to our Singapore-Stanford Biodesign (SSB) programme’s industry- clinical and academic partners- guests from the growing local and APAC healthcare innovation community and also faculty members from Stanford University at today’s SSB graduation ceremony and launch of Singapore Biodesign event.

I am indeed glad and heartened to see the overwhelming participation that SSB has gathered at the events today.

In particular- I would like to thank Paul- Founder and Director- Stanford Biodesign- for making the trip to Singapore since the last time he was here in 2015 to witness this milestone of SSB’s transition into SB.

Without his leadership- support and guidance- SSB would not be where it is today and I would just like to invite everyone to join me in thanking Paul.

Tonight- we will celebrate the graduation of our eighth batch of SSB’s Fellows.

We will also take this occasion to reflect on SSB’s milestones and achievements in making a difference to patients and creating growth in the local MedTech industry.

Growing Opportunities for Medtech in Asia-Pacific

The outlook of the global MedTech industry remains bright; in particular that of the Asia-Pacific market which posts a steady year-on-year growth of 8%.

This is against the backdrop of an ageing population- growing middle-class- and rising health care costs. 

By 2020- MedTech in the Asia–Pacific is expected to grow by 50 per cent from US$88b in 2015 to US$133b- surpassing the European Union as the world’s second-largest MedTech market (after the United States)1.

This rapid growth is expected to ride on technological advancements such as digital technologies- data analytics- and artificial intelligence- which will catalyze innovations that better tackle and manage chronic diseases prevalent in the region.

Singapore is in a good position to seize the growth opportunities in the region- given our strong IP protection- business friendly environment- our strengths in engineering- manufacturing and biomedical sciences.

Singapore has also a vibrant ecosystem for medical technology- comprising more than 60 multinational MedTech companies and over 30 research & development (R&D) centres from leading MedTech firms2 .

In 2016 alone- the local MedTech sector registered an output of over S$11 billion and provided around 13-900 jobs across manufacturing- R&D- and HQ functions. 3

Under the Health and Biomedical Sciences domain of the government’s RIE2020 plan- we are committed to further develop the local MedTech ecosystem- to better translate our research to improve health outcomes- as well as position ourselves for the future economy.

SSB Contributes to a Rich and Diverse MedTech Ecosystem

As a talent development programme- SSB plays an important role in the ecosystem- by nurturing a critical mass of trained MedTech talent for both the public and private sectors.

Launched in 2010- SSB adopts Stanford University’s unique biodesign thinking and process approach- to develop talent passionate about MedTech innovations.

Over the years- SSB has achieved remarkable progress in shaping a rich and diverse MedTech environment we see today.

All of SSB’s graduates from its flagship fellowship programme have pursued a career in health care- taking on enabling roles as start-up founders- project managers- business development managers and clinician innovators.

The fellowship programme has also served as a talent multiplier.
Our fellows have trained over 400 individuals in biodesign methodology through the Biodesign Innovation Class and various industry workshops.

Even with a relatively short runway- a handful of these talent have risen to key leadership positions in the ecosystem- and over 100 of their direct reports were trained through our alumni.

Collectively- this group has mobilised over S$30M in private sector funding for the local MedTech ecosystem across the innovation value chain.

SSB has also delivered a healthy flow of talent who are passionate about entrepreneurship and are serving as important drivers of innovation and value-creation in our economy.

These talent are SSB-trained fellows and class alumni who continue to pursue MedTech innovations and entrepreneurship. 

They have between them over 30 patents filed from their training projects at SSB- and at least 20 of these projects have received funding leading to seven spin-offs with a combined start-up valuation of over S$35M. 

Our alumni have also impacted over 100 projects through mentorship and other engagements- resulting in an additional S$30M raised in healthtech project funding.

In keeping a finger on the pulse of the evolving and maturing MedTech ecosystem here- SSB has stepped up its efforts to forge strategic collaborations and networks with clinicians- engineers and industry partners in Singapore and the region.

Through such partnerships in the areas of Biodesign training and clinical immersion- SSB can better contextualise solutions to unmet clinical needs- and capture market opportunities more effectively.

Over the years- SSB has also received recognition from industry and the region with 32 local collaborators including Academic Partners- Alliances- Corporate Members and Clinical Immersion Partners- and 10 Regional partners from Indonesia- China and South Korea.

Catalysing Medtech Innovations to Improve Lives

SSB has continued to evolve in response to the needs of the local and regional industry as well as Singapore’s health care needs.

This year- SSB has aligned itself with the nation’s call on the war on diabetes- by basing the fellowship clinical theme on diabetes and sharing their insights on Asian diabetes management at the Thought Leaders Series this afternoon.

This year- SSB also conducted a clinical immersion session at Zhongshan Hospital at Fudan Unversity in China for the first time- through which we gained access to multi-disciplinary clinical expertise for hospital validation in diabetes care.

SSB has also expanded its offerings to include customised workshops for industry and medical professionals with a stronger focus on technology commercialisation.

For example- it has delivered a highly customised workshop on neurotechnologies for the Cleveland Clinic Innovations – the commercialisation arm of US-based Cleveland Clinic; and A*STAR’s A*CCELERATE early this year.

Finally- I am very glad to see that SSB has continued to further nurture its innovations. Just this year- inventions from its programme have reached new heights.

For example- Privi Medical; a start-up founded by the 2014 Fellows has obtained FDA clearance for its InstaliefTM Hemorrhoids Treatment- an advanced instant cold compression technology to treat hemorrhoids safely and effectively at home.

Another promising start-up Advent Access founded by then-SSB Programme Director Ruey Feng in 2013- has completed its CE submission for its av-Guardian technology- an award-winning medical implant which eases access to veins- to make kidney dialysis less painful and more effective.

It has recently acquired the global manufacturing and commercialisation rights to key product assets from Vital Access - a vascular technology company based in the US. These achievements pave the way for Advent to expand its market globally- and create solutions to enable more patients to benefit from home or self-hemodialysis.

In addition- an SSB Fellow from 2015- Dr James Mok- has also received the National Medical Research Council (NMRC)’s National Outstanding Clinician Scientist Resident award for his work on developing a neurostimulation device for chronic venous insufficiency.

This is a fine testament to the quality of SSB’s alumnus.

SSB now & moving forward

SSB has certainly come a long way since graduating its first batch of Fellows and Class students in 2011.

In this eighth year of graduating another batch of students- I am happy to share that SSB will be reaching a new milestone. 
From 2019 onwards- the program will be renamed as Singapore Biodesign (SB).

The new SB will focus on addressing Asia’s unmet needs and market access challenges in order to drive greater value creation to deliver on both economic and healthcare impact.

With the support of Stanford- SB will continue to build on its core capability and mission in grooming MedTech innovators for Singapore- and nurture innovations with greater relevance to the Asia markets.

SB will nurture selected innovation projects through collaborating with key players in the MedTech ecosystem- and customising Biodesign training workshops and bootcamps for universities- research institutes and the industry.

On this note- I am happy to announce that later today- the new SB and National Health Innovation Centre (NHIC)- will be signing an MoU to accelerate healthcare innovation towards commercialisation- through tapping on their complementary strengths in talent training and know-how for healthtech innovation.

In closing- I would like to congratulate the graduating class of 2018- and also congratulate SSB on its achievements over the last eight years.

These achievements are only made possible through strong partnerships and the shared vision of enabling innovations and stakeholders to drive the MedTech industry’s growth both locally and regionally.

I would therefore like to commend everyone here today for supporting SSB and the larger MedTech ecosystem in Singapore.
At the same time- I invite all of you to join me in extending our best wishes to the SB team- in its mission to develop the next generation of MedTech innovators- and bring benefits to our society and economy.

Thank you very much and have a great evening.

1: https://www.mti.gov.sg/NewsRoom/Pages/Speech-by-Minister-Iswaran-at-Accuron-MedTech-Technology-Centre-Opening.aspx

2: https://www.mti.gov.sg/NewsRoom/Pages/Speech-by-Minister-Iswaran-at-Accuron-MedTech-Technology-Centre-Opening.aspx

3: https://www.edb.gov.sg/en/news-and-resources/insights/manufacturing/singapore-dazzles-as-a-world-leader-in-medical-manufacturing.html