EDBI and Philips to ramp up investment in high-potential digital health companies

SINGAPORE - EDBI, the venture capital arm of the Economic Development Board, is ramping up efforts to work with more innovative firms within the digital health sector.

It said it will do so through the joint investment alliance with Dutch electronics giant Royal Philips, which was first announced in January last year.

EDBI's alliance with Philips is aimed at helping high-potential digital health companies build technological capabilities to innovate, scale up and expand regionally and globally, in order to address the pressing healthcare needs of an ageing Asian population.

This will help strengthen the local and regional healthcare ecosystem by fostering collaborative innovation between local companies and multinationals.

All of this, added EDBI in a statement on Tuesday, is in line with Singapore's growing focus on strengthening its position as a leading digital health hub.

Mr Choo Heng Tong, executive vice president of investments at EDBI, said: "While there is significant value in harnessing data as a digital asset to better personalise health and wellness decisions for individuals, the Asian healthcare sector operates differently from the West where digital health solutions have taken root.

"We will continue to identify key game-changers which are capable of transforming Singapore's healthcare sector with their disruptive technologies."

The joint investment alliance between EDBI and Philips has already invested in Singapore-based health tech start-up CXA Group. It participated in a US$25 million (S$35.5 million) in a funding round led by Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin's B Capital Group in February.

CXA offers an online platform which allows employees to choose what they need in terms of insurance protection and treatment versus prevention and wellness, while helping firms control rising healthcare costs. It uses health screening, lifestyle risks as well as sensor and claims data to predict future premiums, and pre-negotiates reduced future premiums from insurers for companies willing to help employees improve their health.

EDBI said CXA will benefit commercially from access to Philips' health technology solutions and business partners across the health continuum, from healthy living and prevention, to diagnosis, treatment and home care.

In particular, CXA will be able to integrate Philips' leading health monitoring solutions and services to track employees' vital signs and provide them with targeted guidance, aided by clinical algorithms, to help them prevent and manage chronic conditions.

The start-up also plans to leverage Philips' digital health platform to analyse data and generate meaningful insights.

"Philips' expertise in personal health monitoring and big data are both huge assets for us as we look to refine our value proposition and scale regionally. Our vision is to transform employee benefits across Asia, and with EDBI and Philips on board, we're in an even stronger position to do that in 2017," said Ms Rosaline Chow Koo, founder and chief executive of CXA.