Renew opens facility to make medical devices

Mr Manoj Bhargava, chairman of Renew Group, says it is easier to do business in Singapore than anywhere else in the world.
Mr Manoj Bhargava, chairman of Renew Group, says it is easier to do business in Singapore than anywhere else in the world.

Local innovation venture company Renew Group opened a production facility here last week, set up at a cost of around US$250,000 (S$350,000), in a move to expand its business across the Asia-Pacific.

The 10,000 sq ft plant in Serangoon will manufacture medical devices aimed at enhancing blood circulation. The facility has a production capacity of about 100 units a day. It comes under an initial investment programme worth US$120 million, spearheaded by American businessman Manoj Bhargava. This is to be followed with US$50 million to US$75 million of capital in the next two to three years, depending on demand.

Mr Bhargava, who is chairman of the board at Renew Group, told The Straits Times that the products will be distributed to medical institutes and hospitals here as well as other regional markets.

"The increase of blood flow is the foundation of health and the decrease of blood flow is the foundation of almost all sorts of illnesses.

"So we are coming up with something that will help with everything from heart disease to diabetes to stroke... We expect this to become, over the next several years, the largest wellness device in the world."

The Detroit-based businessman has bigger plans lined up as well.

He said Renew Group aims to roll out two other healthcare-related products here in the coming months - a wearable patch that tracks the user's vital health statistics and a software that makes use of artificial intelligence diagnostics to process echocardiograms (an ultra-sound test that creates live images of the heart).

The company, staffed by 35 employees here, also wants to set up another manufacturing plant in Singapore to produce water desalination units that can convert any kind of water into potable water.

"Singapore is going to be the centre of the world for business ... It's a lot easier to do business here than anywhere in the world," noted Mr Bhargava, adding that Renew Group is targeting to enter every market across the Asia-Pacific in the next three to five years.

"The largest cost in business is the inability to do things fast. To get (our products) out there in the marketplace faster is better and less expensive than to do it cheaper and be really slow."

Mr Bhargava, 62, is best known for creating the caffeine-based 5-hour Energy Drink.

The India-born entrepreneur had moved to the United States in 1967 at the age of 14. He dropped out of Princeton University after one year to focus on spiritual studies in India and later set up Living Essentials, a consumer products firm behind the popular drink, which has made US$1 billion in retail sales over eight years in the US, according to Forbes.

The energy shots have been the target of negative publicity, but he shrugs that off.

In recent years, his efforts have turned more to medical devices and projects such as converting sea water or polluted water into water suitable for drinking and agriculture; and a bicycle-based system to provide electricity, free of cost and without pollution. "The focus is that we can fix some of the world's biggest problems and help individuals, families and communities meet their basic needs," he said.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 05, 2015, with the headline Renew opens facility to make medical devices. Subscribe