Local firms need to innovate to have competitive edge globally: Koh Poh Koon

Dr Koh Poh Koon noted that Singapore's biomedical manufacturing sector contributed around 3.3 per cent of GDP in 2017. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - Innovation is important to help companies here expand, said Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon on Thursday (March 21).

Dr Koh told the official opening ceremony for Hyphens Pharma International's new facility: "(The firm's) dedication to innovation has helped them build a range of proprietary products and brands that are distributed locally as well as regionally.

"With an established presence in Asean countries, Hyphens Pharma is well-positioned to serve these fast-growing markets and the rising demand for quality healthcare products.

"Hyphens Pharma's commitment to innovation and moving up the value chain serves as an excellent example for other local companies."

The pharmaceutical group has a direct presence in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam and a marketing and distribution network covering Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Myanmar and Oman.

Its new facility at Tai Seng houses an automated packaging line with equipment that can fill 100 bottles of product in a minute.

Metal detectors and weight checking sensors are used for quality control while the warehouse section is designed to improve logistics efficiency.

The complex will also serve as the firm's corporate headquarters. The new facility, which replaces a smaller one in Joo Seng Road, cost about $3 million to develop.

The company has around 150 staff in Singapore and 450 employees across the group.

Dr Koh noted that Singapore's biomedical manufacturing sector contributed around 3.3 per cent of GDP in 2017. Globally the healthcare industry is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 5.6 per cent between 2016 and 2025.

Revenue at Hyphens Pharma, which was founded in 1986 and listed last May, crossed the $100 million mark in 2016 and hit $121 million in 2018.

Mr Koh lauded the company's partnership with public agencies like the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) since 2014: "Through its strong partnerships with public sector agencies, Hyphens has been able to develop new products that not only enabled it to sustain its growth and move into new markets, but also help improve the health and lives of people."

The firm's wholly-owned subsidiary, Hyphens Singapore, inked an agreement with A*Star's commercialisation arm on Thursday to further enhance the relationship between both organisations in research development for products targeting eczema, acne and pigmentary disorders.

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