In collaboration with Spring Singapore, Temasek Polytechnic (TP) has launched the Centre of Innovation for Complementary Health Products, the first of its kind here.
It aims to serve as a resource centre for companies in the complementary health product (CHP) industry, whose products may include traditional remedies, health supplements and functional foods.
At the centre's launch yesterday, Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor said: "With a better educated and more discerning public, as well as an increase in health consciousness, many are using CHP for health maintenance and disease prevention."
The local CHP industry has about 1,100 enterprises, contributing $2.43 billion in operating receipts, according to 2014 figures from the Department of Statistics, the latest numbers available.
However, as 95 per cent of CHP companies here are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), they lack access to information and find it costly to set up research and development laboratories, said a survey by Spring Singapore and TP.
The new centre can help as it has has laboratories that can run clinical trials on products that tout health benefits and are not classified as modern medicine. Spring Singapore has invested $3.2 million to fund the new centre based in TP.
After the health benefit claims have been backed up by evidence, firms can get certification that may help them export their goods overseas more easily, said Dr Lee Chee Wee, director of the School of Applied Science at TP.
Since 2010, the school has provided consultancy services to more than 80 projects linked to the CHP industry. Such projects will now be housed in the new centre.
SMEs can apply for a grant from Spring Singapore to co-fund consultancy services from the centre.
Dr Lee said CHP firms need to rely on evidence, in line with Western science, to make credible claims. "That's where we can help."