SINGAPORE - In collaboration with Spring Singapore, Temasek Polytechnic (TP) has launched the Centre of Innovation for Complementary Health Products, the first of its kind in Singapore.
It aims to serve as a resource centre for companies in the complementary health product (CHP) industry, whose products may include traditional remedies, health supplements and functional foods.
The centre has laboratories that can run various tests such as chemical analysis and clinical trials on products that tout health benefits and are not classified as modern medicine.
Speaking at the launch of the centre on Thursday (June 16), Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor said: "With a better educated and more discerning public, as well as increase in health consciousness, many are using CHP for health maintenance and disease prevention.
"In recent years, there has also been growing popularity in the use of Traditional Chinese Medicine as a form of complementary medicine, alongside modern medicine."
She added: "As with any medical product or treatment, there can be risks with CHP. It is therefore crucial that the use of CHP be supported by scientific research and evidence, particularly from the perspectives of safety and effectiveness."
But CHP companies lack access to information and find it costly to set up research and development laboratoriesas 95 per cent of are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), according to a survey done by TP and Spring Singapore.
This is where the new centre can help.
The director of the School of Applied Science at TP, Dr Lee Chee Wee, said: "Traditional medicines have been in use for thousands of years. CHP companies already know they have good products that work, but they may have a hard time ensuring quality control standards.
"To make credible claims, they need to modernise and rely on evidence in line with Western science. There's where we can help."
Since 2010, the school at TP has provided consultancy services to more than 80 projects related to the CHP industry.
Dr Lee added that after the health benefit claims have been backed up by evidence, companies can receive certification that may help them export their products overseas more easily.
In order to support the industry, Spring Singapore has invested $3.2 million to fund the new centre at TP.
SMEs can apply for a grant from Spring Singapore to co-fund consultancy services from the centre. Some companies that have benefited from partnering with TP include GNC, Eu Yan Sang and Hockhua Group.