S'pore well-positioned to ride medtech wave, says Iswaran

Republic can strengthen role as gateway for such firms to access regional markets

Mr Iswaran said at the opening ceremony of two medical trade exhibitions that medical technology is an "important growth sector" for Singapore.
Mr Iswaran said at the opening ceremony of two medical trade exhibitions that medical technology is an "important growth sector" for Singapore.

Singapore's reputation as a trusted business hub leaves it well positioned to thrive in the fast-growing medical technology sector, said Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S. Iswaran yesterday.

Mr Iswaran added that the country could strengthen its position as a gateway for medtech companies - local and foreign - to access the growing markets in the region.

He noted that the medtech market in Asia-Pacific is expected to grow to US$133 billion (S$181 billion) in 2020, up from US$88 billion last year.

Medtech is an "important growth sector" for Singapore, said Mr Iswaran, adding that from 2000 to last year, the value-add of Singapore's medtech manufacturing grew from $800 million, or 0.6 per cent of the country's gross domestic product, to $3.5 billion.

To meet the needs of customers in key markets, Singapore needs to ensure that its medtech sector continues to create value and develop innovative products, said Mr Iswaran, who was speaking at the joint opening ceremony of two medical and healthcare exhibitions yesterday.

He pointed to the Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2020 Plan announced earlier this year. This allocated the health and biomedical sciences sector a budget of $4 billion of the total $19 billion over the next five years.

The funding will support research in five therapeutic areas, including cancer and cardiovascular diseases, and facilitate the translation of research into applications.

Mr Iswaran said the Government is providing support for medtech firms in their development and collaboration efforts, given the high barriers to entry at various stages.

He noted that local firm Neurostyle, for instance, has tapped Spring Singapore's Technology Enterprise Commercialisation Scheme to develop a stroke rehabilitation system that can help improve motor-function recovery of patients through synchronised brain and physical rehabilitation.

Neurostyle has grown from a start-up to a firm with distribution across Asean and the Middle East.

The two exhibitions, Medical Manufacturing Asia and Medical Fair Asia, feature about 1,200 companies from over 40 countries.

Organised by the Singapore Precision Engineering and Technology Association and Messe Dusseldorf Asia, they will be open to trade visitors at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre until tomorrow.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 01, 2016, with the headline 'S'pore well-positioned to ride medtech wave, says Iswaran'. Subscribe