Esco set to reap results of investments into life sciences research

SINGAPORE - Women's health is an underserved segment in the world of medical technology, but progress made through new innovations may help set global standards, Esco Group chief Lin Xiangqian said.

The president and chief executive of Esco, the home-grown life sciences company, said a portfolio firm of its venture capital arm Esco Ventures, is currently conducting clinical studies of its latest product.

The firm, Carmentix, which has received some S$5 million in funding is conducting the study with the University of Melbourne "to discover novel biomarkers which can predict and hence prevent pre-term birth," Mr Lin told the Straits Times in a recent interview.

"Once the markers are validated, we plan to develop a commercial kit that will utilize our markers on a widely deployable platform. Our vision is to develop an early pregnancy test which will one day become standard of care for all pregnant women globally," he said.

Carmentix is part of Esco Ventures' which was set up by the Group in 2014 to to acquire or launch start-ups with medical technology innovations.

Mr Lin hopes Carmentix's products will be the first of many that Esco can help deliver, on top of the group's own medical and laboratory equipment products that are among the established global brands.

"Women's health is a segment underserved by the multinational corporations while global awareness is low in many of these unmet clinical needs - which means it's a huge market opportunity for us," he said.

Against this backdrop, Esco Ventures' investments are set to yield lucrative returns, and Mr Lin expects an internal rate of return of at least 30 per cent.

But he is also heartened that the group can play a part in impact investment.

"We are also passionate about really making a difference in people's lives and would like to make this a part of the Singaporean ecosystem, generating local success stories that make an impact on global scale."