A Japanese plastics company is acquiring home-grown Veredus Laboratories in one of the largest exits in the local medtech space.
Veredus Laboratories was started by Dr Rosemary Tan in 2003 to commercialise locally developed technologies that make sense of the human genetic make-up. She has a PhD in molecular immunology.
The size of the sale to Sekisui Chemical was not disclosed, but market sources said Veredus could be worth about US$83 million (S$109 million), which is the amount Luminex paid for molecular diagnostics firm Nanosphere in 2016.
The Veredus sale also marks the second exit for Accuron MedTech, the medical device maker and medtech investor backed by Temasek Holdings. Accuron has invested in 10 companies in the past three years, including Taipei-listed Aslan Pharmaceuticals, which is developing cancer drugs.
Accuron acquired a 51 per cent stake in Veredus in 2014, while STMicroelectonics held 16 per cent.
Under Accuron MedTech's ownership, Veredus has grown its revenues by 30 per cent and doubled its research and development (R&D) headcount.
Veredus also moved its global biochip manufacturing facility from Italy to Singapore and expanded into large new markets, including Indonesia and China.
The firm spends about 25 per cent of its revenue on R&D. It generated $9.7 million in sales in 2016, and an operating profit of $1.6 million.
Dr Tan said: "We are very excited moving forward to work together with a global player to move to the next level. We have the technology, but we are very small, with about 45 employees in Singapore. Sekisui is very big and is looking for new areas to grow.
"It has been a great journey for me, I will continue to be the CEO and director of Veredus, and continue to chart its growth."
Mr Abel Ang, group chief executive of Accuron MedTech, said: "The fact that Rosemary is able to exit in this fashion is a win.
"Today in deep tech, we don't have these icons of people who exited. These are not companies that you start today and tomorrow you flip them. This is not a Grab story.
"The fact that she is exiting well will allow her to be an icon for the waves of (deep tech) entrepreneurs who are going to come after her."
Sekisui Chemical official Goichi Tsuchihashi, the director and managing executive officer of its diagnostics business unit, said: "The acquisition of Veredus is an important step in realising our mid-term business plan, a focus of which is to enter into new, important markets in Asia that have high growth potential in the diagnostics industry."
Veredus is conducting R&D in various products, including chips that test for tropical viruses such as Zika and dengue, and chips that test food samples like beef for bacteria, as well as bio-surveillance tests that check air samples for biological weapons such as anthrax and smallpox.