Opening Speech by Mr. Lim Chuan Poh, Chairman A*Star, at the Official opening of the SBIC-iThera Medical Imaging Centre on 28 September 2018 at Helios, Biopolis

Mr Christian Wiest, CEO, iThera Medical

Prof Patrick Cozzone,

Distinguished Guests,

Partners from academia, industry and clinical communities,

Friends and Colleagues,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

A very good morning to all of you.


Let me begin by congratulating the Singapore Bioimaging Consortium (SBIC) and iThera Medical on the official opening of the SBIC-iThera Medical Imaging Centre.

This is an important milestone for both parties, and also the research and clinical community, and it underscores Singapore’s efforts in the Health and Biomedical Sciences domain of the RIE2020 plan, to drive translational research to improve healthcare outcomes.

The HBMS remains an important part of Singapore’s economy, contributing as much as 4% of our GDP.

Developments in this domain will increasingly be driven by research and innovation, and there is a need to closely align the national RIE strategies with the future economy strategies.

At the same time, research in this Domain is also intended to improve our healthcare outcomes, such as to reduce the burden of chronic diseases associated with an ageing and more affluent population, as well as the challenge of rising healthcare costs.

This is why A*STAR works closely with the Ministry of Health and our healthcare and university partners, as well as with companies to address both economic opportunities as well as our healthcare needs.

A*STAR remains committed to nurturing a vibrant and sustainable biomedical sciences ecosystem to facilitate the translation of research discoveries into meaningful applications and novel treatments.

The physical manifestation of this is where we are, the Biopolis, an attractive innovation hotspot that is home to world-class science, state of the art research facilities, and a rich mix of public and private sector enterprises, where researchers from the different entities work together as one community to shape the future of medicine and healthcare industry.

One tangible measure is the total research investments from the private sector, for instance, has increased around 20-fold from less than $20M in S&T 2010 to nearly $400M in RIE 2015.

In response to changes at both the global and national level, A*STAR has taken the initiative to sharpen our positioning and enhance our value proposition.

One of our key priorities is to continue to strengthen Singapore’s peaks of excellence in defined research areas in order to offer differentiated value propositions to partner companies and progress such collaborations into R&D centres that are deeply integrated into the local research ecosystem.

Our researchers continue to generate high impact scientific publications, and gain recognition through fellowships and awards, both locally and internationally, and there is also a good flow of scientists into industry R&D and related areas with some of the more entrepreneurial ones spinning off companies based on their research work.

The most important aspect of an ecosystem is sustaining the rich mix of different types of talent to make for a vibrant and collaborative community.

Compared to previous tranches, RIE 2020 has seen a sharper articulation of how our R&D investments should translate into greater value creation and capture for Singapore, be it in economic or healthcare outcomes.

In this regard, BMRC is not doing this by itself but have the full support of colleagues from SERC, and the rest of A*STAR.

In addition, BMRC is also leveraging on the wider research community to forge multi-stakeholder, multi-disciplinary partnerships at the national level.

This brings together public sector research performers from across the RIE ecosystem, including our A*STAR RIs, universities, and hospitals, to work with industry players through large collaborative programmes or joint laboratories.

Within this context, over the years, SBIC has forged valuable partnerships with industry through joint laboratories to push the boundaries of technologies and bring the capabilities of bioimaging to a new level.

SBIC’s collaboration with iThera, a pioneer in optoacoustic imaging1 systems, is a prime example of such a partnership.

SBIC-iThera Medical Imaging Centre

Since 2012, SBIC and iThera have worked closely through research collaborations to develop enabling technologies, in the area of oncology, neuroscience, fat metabolism and vascular imaging.

The SBIC-iThera Medical Imaging Centre reflects the deepening of this relationship.

It is also notable that this Centre is Asia’s first optoacoustic imaging centre of excellence, houses some of the most state-of-the-art equipment, and conducting some of the most  advanced optoacoustics research, and application in clinical and preclinical medicine, particularly in cancer.


The opening of this new Centre provides an avenue and platform for collaborative partnerships in Singapore and beyond, and many of key partners are already present in this room.

Last but not least, I would like to thank Prof Patrick Cozzone, for leading and positioning SBIC towards developing such academic-industry partnerships.

I should also thank Prof. Malini Olivo , Director of Biophotonics, and Mr Christian Wiest, CEO of iThera Medical, for spearheading this exciting initiative.

More significantly, I look forward to receiving good news of the breakthroughs to be achieved by this Centre.

On this note, let me wish all of you every success in this collaboration.

Thank you.

1 Photoacoustics is a non-invasive hybrid imaging technique that integrates optical and ultrasound imaging, and which can penetrate to deep tissue structures with better resolution than other functional imaging modalities.