DPM Heng Swee Keat at ClavystBio Node 1 Opening

DPM Heng Swee Keat | 4 October 2023

Speech by Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies Heng Swee Keat at ClavystBio Node 1 opening on 4 October 2023.

Dr Fidah Alsagoff, Chairman of ClavystBio 
Dr Khoo Shih, Chief Executive Officer of ClavystBio,
Ladies and gentlemen,

I am delighted to join you this morning to launch ClavystBio and your collaborative innovation space Node 1.

Taking the Innovation Journey Tour earlier, I was impressed by the progress that your portfolio companies are making in drug discovery, development and delivery, cell therapy and digital health, as well as in building collaborative networks.

In bringing talent and intellectual property from around the world to tackle real-world problems, you are helping to shape the next chapter in Singapore’s biomedical story.

As Dr Khoo described earlier, health challenges around the world are serious and growing, both in terms of their costs to human life, and their burden on financial resources.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also been a sobering reminder that even as we deal with long-term chronic conditions, we must, at the same time, be prepared for sudden acute global outbreaks of diseases. 

Given the scale of the challenge, we must work to bring together the best minds from across the world, to pool their expertise and resources, collaborate, and achieve breakthroughs.  

For a start, we must invest in science and basic research, to better understand the fundamental, complex and intricate processes that influence and impact life. 

In Singapore, we have built up strong pillars of research.

We made early investments by setting up research institutes like the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, and the Genome Institute of Singapore, and sending some of our brightest students to study and train at top global institutions on A*STAR scholarships. 

Today, we have 17 research institutes within A*STAR undertaking pioneering work in critical areas.
Particularly in biotechnology, our research landscape and researchers are ranked among the top globally. 

Our universities have vibrant research departments, and our Academic Medical Centres are able to better integrate medical practices with research and innovation.

In 2022, Singapore placed 7th, and the only Asian country in the Top 10, in a Nature Biotechnology ranking of global biotech hubs.

And we continue to invest to strengthen our capabilities in this area.

Biomedical sciences, as part of the wider Human Health and Potential cluster, is one of four priorities under our Research, Innovation and Enterprise (RIE) 2025 masterplan, under which the Government has committed to investing S$25 billion to R&D.

With the progress that we have made over the last two decades in building our research base, as Dr Khoo noted earlier, we must now translate our scientific and clinical excellence to achieve better health outcomes nationally and globally.  

Singapore recognises that life science startups, supported by global venture capital, are critical engines of biomedical innovation.

Our landscape of life science startups is growing both in size and vibrancy. Today, we are home to almost 500 biomedical startups that have attracted more than US$3 billion in venture funding in recent years.

Startups here benefit from a strong ecosystem that allows them to establish cross-sector partnerships, build problem-solving communities, and expand their networks regionally and globally.

ClavystBio, as a venture builder, plays an important catalytic role.

By bringing together innovators, investors, and entrepreneurs, you help to bring together various expertise and forms of capital to launch and grow globally relevant life science companies based here in Singapore.

This Node 1, where we are today, is a plug-and-play space with shared labs and offices that will support young and growing life science ventures which have graduated from incubators.

ClavystBio intends to convene discussion panels, workshops and focus groups at Node 1.
These will help to build networks and a sense of community among our life science startups.

ClavystBio is also nurturing public-private partnerships, linking VCs, industry and our research and academic institutions to spur greater innovation.

One good example is the 65Lab that you have established with Evotec and other VC partners to accelerate drug discovery and related venture creation from A*STAR, NUS and Duke-NUS Medical School.

With our extensive global linkages and our position in Asia, Singapore can serve as an important Global-Asia node for technology, innovation, and enterprise, helping life science startups amplify their positive impact.

For instance, with our small-yet-diverse population and excellent health records and data, we can serve as a good reference base for research on new therapeutics that can be scaled up regionally and globally.

We are undertaking important studies in this area. 

Our National Precision Medicine Programme is embarking on a multi-ethnic longitudinal cohort study of 100,000 Singaporeans – it will be the world’s largest genetic databank for multi-ethnic Asian populations when completed. 

To date, close to 80,000 participants have been recruited and over 40,000 whole genomes have been sequenced. 

Startups, including those looking at cancer, can leverage this in drug discovery and development targeted at the Asian market.

Challenges to human health are not limited by geography or boundaries, and neither should their solutions.

I therefore commend ClavystBio and your portfolio companies for building partnerships spanning talent from Asia, Europe and the US.

Singapore, as a Global-Asia node, welcomes opportunities to partner with collaborators from around the world on translational breakthroughs and innovations that can lead to a healthier, safer future for all.

In conclusion, let me once again congratulate ClavystBio on your launch.

I wish you every success and look forward to you, and your Node 1, bringing together diverse and passionate stakeholders to make significant breakthroughs, strengthen Singapore’s life science ecosystem, and address key global challenges. Congratulations and all the very best.