ATLANTA, May 18 /PRNewswire/ --

Global biomedical sciences companies invested more than US$500 million in Singapore in the year 2008. This rides on Singapore's strong scientific fundamentals, with biomedical sciences RD expenditure exceeding US$760 million in 2007.

The continued confidence in Singapore points to the city-state's attractive investment environment, as companies look to the fast growing Asian market to fuel their growth. As a leading bio-cluster in Asia, Singapore provides access to global talent, world-class scientific and clinical excellence, as well as excellent connectivity to key regional markets.

Mr. Yeoh Keat Chuan, Executive Director, Biomedical Sciences, Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) said: Singapore is aggressively positioning itself as a home for business, innovation and talent in Asia to be future-ready. Our efforts will enable companies based in Singapore to innovate and create value, thereby capturing the opportunities presented by Asia's growth.

Expanding Base of Research Investments

A growing base of more than 50 global pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical technology companies are carrying out RD in Singapore, alongside 30 public-sector research and medical institutes.

Bayer has committed US$13 million to carry out RD in Singapore, starting with a US$2.3 million collaboration with the National University of Singapore (NUS) Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine to conduct translational cancer research, which includes profiling oncology drugs in an Asian context.

Schering-Plough opened a 30,000 square-foot Translational Medicine Research Centre (TMRC), which will support the company's global RD programmes by focusing on biomarker discovery and development. Schering-Plough's TMRC will also be the company's focal point for non-invasive imaging for discovery research and early clinical development.

In addition, companies are leveraging Singapore's central location for the oversight and coordination of multi-centre, regional clinical trials. Takeda announced its US$3 million regional clinical coordination centre, while Quintiles doubled the size of its regional headquarters to an 80,000 square-foot facility, which will house its Central Laboratory and Clinical Development Services offices.

Commercialising Homegrown Innovation

On the home front, Singapore's biotech and research institutes successfully concluded significant licensing agreements with international partners.

S*BIO, for example, is entitled to receive more than US$600 million in payment under two licensing agreements with Onyx and Tragara to develop oncology drugs. S*BIO's agreement with Onyx will include the development of SB1518, a JAK2 inhibitor that received orphan drug designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2008.

The Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) has attracted investment from Sumitomo Corporation Asia and will be spun-off as Micropoint Technologies to produce plastic microneedles, for painless injections and extraction of bodily fluids, which can be mass produced.

The Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) has also announced licensing deals for its products:

-- Micro-Kit, an all-in-one device that allows for rapid, easy, affordable tests for cancer, avian flu and other infectious diseases, licensed to Dyamed Biotech -- Virtual Reaction Chamber, affordable micro fluidics real time PCR machine, licensed to MP Biomedicals under agreement with Exploit Technologies

Singapore Draws High Value-Added, Complex Manufacturing

Asia's growth is not limited to its market opportunities. In recognition of Asia's scientific excellence and capabilities, companies are establishing higher value-added manufacturing activities into Singapore. This trend builds on Singapore's advanced manufacturing capabilities as well as its expertise in process development and automation technologies. Coupled with the island's close proximity and excellent connectivity to Asian markets, the city-state presents a choice location for complex manufacturing and the production of innovative medicines and medical devices.

Lonza announced the decision to set up its first Asian cell-therapy manufacturing plant in Singapore. This facility will initially manufacture products for clinical trials as a start, and will build up Singapore's capabilities as one of Asia's leading sites for cell-therapy.

In addition, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) recently embarked on a US$67 million upgrading project to improve the capability and flexibility of its Singapore manufacturing plant, which is one of GSK's key global sites that manufacture new pharmaceutical active ingredients. Coupled with its new RD pilot plant opened in 2008, this upgrading project will support the seamless development and implementation of new processes from the RD bench to full-scale manufacturing.

Marking a new milestone in its successful 31-year partnership with Singapore, Baxter Biosciences recently held a ground-breaking ceremony for a biopharmaceutical manufacturing plant for biologics and recombinant therapy. This facility is Singapore's sixth biologics manufacturing plant and will produce ADVATE, which is one of the world's most chosen recombinant FVIII therapies for hemophilia.

In response to the expanding base of biologics manufacturers in Singapore, which include Baxter, Genentech, GSK, Lonza and Novartis, Millipore opened a US$2 million regional biopharmaceutical manufacturing training facility.

In the field of micro-array, Singapore is emerging as a global leader with Illumina's decision to set up its US$20 million global manufacturing site in the city-state. Singapore accounts for more than half of the global manufacturing capacity for micro-arrays, which is increasingly used in biopharmaceutical research and diagnostics.

Yeoh said: In 2008, Singapore's biomedical sciences sector contributed US$13 billion in manufacturing output. With the continued investment from global companies such as Baxter, Illumina and GlaxoSmithKline, we are confident of achieving our target of US$17 billion in manufacturing output by 2015.

Developing Companies' Talent-Base in Singapore

During these challenging times, Singapore has launched programmes specifically targeted at helping global businesses based in Singapore retain and enhance their talent base. In January this year, the Singapore Government announced a US$14 billion resilience package that includes the Jobs Credit scheme and Economic Development Board's PREP-UP initiative. Under these programmes, the Singapore Government will co-share the cost of wages and training with companies to upgrade the skills of their technical and engineering workforce, thus ensuring that they are fully prepared for the eventual economic upturn.

About Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB)

EDB is the lead government agency for planning and executing strategies to enhance Singapore's position as a global business centre and grow the Singapore economy. We dream, design and deliver solutions that create value for investors and companies in Singapore. In so doing, we attract economic opportunities and jobs for the people of Singapore, and help shape our country's economic future.

For more information on how EDB can help in biomedical sciences business and investment, please visit .

For media enquiries, please contact Ruder Finn. Kaele Stock Senior Account Executive Ruder Finn (New York) Tel: +1-202-276-2471 Email: Parveen Kaur Senior Consultant Ruder Finn Asia (Singapore) Tel: +65-9327-8175 Email:

Kaele Stock of Ruder Finn (New York), +1-202-276-2471,; Parveen Kaur of Ruder Finn Asia (Singapore), +65-9327-8175,, for Singapore Economic Development Board