Around 90 more research and engineering jobs will be created in the biomedical sector with the setting up of a new bioanalytical laboratory facility by leading contract research organisation Labcorp, and the expansion of its existing central laboratory here.
The combined facility in Jurong East is the first of its kind in South-east Asia. Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong said at the facility's launch yesterday that it "will add cutting-edge capabilities to our thriving biomedical ecosystem", and "make us an even more compelling regional biomedical hub, help us attract more leading-edge investments in the sector".
"In particular, Labcorp's new Good Laboratory Practice and Good Clinical Practice-compliant bioanalysis and immunochemistry platforms will provide bioanalytical testing services that are critical to early-stage development of biologics and vaccines in Singapore," noted Mr Gan.
He said that jobs that come with the expansion include those in the healthcare sector, such as roles for nursing coordinators to facilitate decentralised clinical trials and data engineers to develop artificial intelligence technologies to assist in diagnosing diseases.
The expansion of Labcorp's laboratory will allow it to provide companion diagnostics laboratory testing support, and equip it with cell and gene therapy testing capabilities. Companies here will also be able to tap Labcorp's services to speed up the design, development and commercialisation of healthcare technologies, he added.
For instance, smaller firms can use Labcorp's expertise to conduct clinical trials and navigate regulatory requirements. This can include laboratory assessments and the compiling of lab test reports.
Labcorp's expansion - which comes 25 years after it established its regional headquarters here - will boost its 350-strong team.
Dr Paul Kirchgraber, chief executive of Labcorp Drug Development, said that the bioanalytical laboratory will help the company "meet the increased pharmaceutical and biotechnology demand in Asia-Pacific, and shows our commitment to expanding our operation in Singapore".
He also noted how the company already partners top global pharmaceutical companies, and has been involved in the top 50 best-selling drugs on the market. It has also made critical contributions to the fight against the pandemic, supporting the development of Covid-19 vaccines and therapies.
"Labcorp supported the majority of designated drug development companies to accelerate vaccine development, manufacturing and distribution around the world, and Labcorp drug development teams continue to be involved in many studies on potential vaccines and treatments for Covid-19 around the globe," Dr Kirchgraber said.
Mr Gan also noted that in the past two years, other major players such as Thermo Fisher, BioNTech, Sanofi and GSK have planned to set up or expand their manufacturing footprint in Singapore. Seven of the top 10 contract research organisations have expanded their presence here over the past decade.
"The biomedical sector has been and will continue to be a key growth driver for our economy," said Mr Gan, adding that despite the pandemic, the sector recorded strong growth, expanding by 24 per cent last year.