Taiwan's Lite-On to invest $40 million for research facility in Singapore

SINGAPORE - A leading supplier of LED products has picked Singapore as the site of its first overseas biomedical research and development (R&D) centre.

Taiwanese-based Lite-On, which set up its regional headquarters and R&D centre here in 2008, said last week that it plans to invest S$40 million in the biomedical industry over the next three years, a sum that includes setting up and operating the new centre.

The firm has been developing in-vitro diagnostics (IVD) products under the brand skyla since 2011. IVD are tests that can detect diseases, conditions or infections.

Its new research centre will focus on developing medical products that cater to point of care (POC) diagnostics - tests usually done at a patient's bedside.

"The aim is to provide quick and reliable diagnostics, and to make medical facilities work more efficiently," said Mr Danny Liao, the group new-business chief executive.

Mr Liao cited Singapore's "economic stability, the well-known protection of intellectual property assets and high-quality manpower" as factors in its decision.

"We'd like to be able to shorten the development time from three years to two, which is where the decision to locate in Singapore will help," said Mr Liao.

The facility aims to to hire 40 skilled staff this year.

Lite-On's decision to set up a centre in Singapore was a good sign, according to Associate Professor David Epstein, director at Centre for Technology and Development at Duke-NUS Medical School, who said there will always be businesses who invest irrespective of cost. "Good science is not a commodity. Singapore's knowledge and expertise isn't something you can easily trade for," said Dr Epstein.