Singapore firms expand product range with EnterpriseSG initiative


Mirxes co-founder and chief executive Zhou Lihan said that overseas expansion is important because these markets provide growth opportunities. Photo courtesy of Mirxes

SINGAPORE: Biotechnology firm Mirxes had over 100 employees in 2021. But in just three years, the company has more than doubled in size, with over 300 staff globally today.

The Singapore-headquartered company, which stands on the cutting edge of Ribonucleic acid (RNA) technology – the same tech used in Covid-19 vaccines – also has physical operations in the United States, China, Hong Kong, Japan and South-East Asia, as well as commercial activities in the broader Asia-Pacific markets.

And while it is based here, it keeps a keen eye on the region’s vast potential.

Co-founder and chief executive Zhou Lihan said: “As a first mover in the region’s nascent precision cancer detection market, Mirxes is poised for dominance.”

The firm develops and commercialises accurate, non-invasive and affordable blood tests based on micro-RNA technology for early disease detection, including cancer.

It credits its growth to a programme by Enterprise Singapore (EnterpriseSG) which helps local companies to scale up. Mirxes participated in the programme in 2020 and embarked on a partnership journey with its anchor partner, management consulting firm EY-Parthenon.

To date, the Scale-Up SG programme, which started in 2019, has supported 92 companies across diverse sectors in mapping out their plans and achieving their growth ambitions, EnterpriseSG said. The programme aims to help high-potential Singapore companies grow further and become global champions.

Companies with global headquarters in Singapore that have demonstrated a strong track record of growth and good leadership bench strength are invited to join the programme by EnterpriseSG. The firms must also have the ambition to take their business global and to transform.

The first three runs involving a total of 47 companies achieved an average revenue growth rate of 68% in just two years. Meanwhile, around half of these 47 firms entered new markets.

About 85% of them have also launched new businesses and products after going through the programme. About a third of them have also expanded through joint ventures and mergers and acquisitions.

EnterpriseSG director of growth enterprise development Lee Meilian said: “Through the programme, companies have worked with different partners and experts to conceptualise strategies to expand into new markets, work on new product offerings, and even develop new business models.”

She added that the agency also provides targeted assistance in areas like the sharing of industry and market insights, providing access to business leads in overseas markets, and customising funding support.

For Mirxes, overseas expansion is important because these markets provide growth opportunities, said Dr Zhou. “We hope to achieve strong in-market relevance, alongside first-mover advantage,” he added.

He said that the Scale-Up SG programme helped Mirxes to take a deep dive into key South-East Asian markets and truly understand them, such as the type of government support provided, the regulatory environment and potential in-market partners.

“Through these deep dives, we refined some of our market strategies and value propositions.

“For instance, given the fragmented and nascent but growing molecular diagnostic ecosystem in the South-East Asian countries outside of Singapore, Mirxes adopted a dual approach of providing services and products when entering these markets,” Zhou said.

This dual approach meant that Mirxes designed and launched clinical test offerings through lab-developed tests, while also building capabilities to develop an in-vitro diagnostics product towards regulatory approval at the same time. This meant the firm could capture immediate and longer-term opportunities in each market.

Today, Mirxes is poised for further expansion across South-East Asia.

“Building on our successful clinical laboratory presence in the Philippines, we’re establishing strong partnerships to set up clinical and manufacturing facilities in both Indonesia and Malaysia. This regional focus allows us to tap the vast potential of South-East Asia’s growing healthcare market,” Zhou said.

Other companies that went through the programme also found success in expanding overseas. — The Straits Times/ANN

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