Biomed boom time for the economy

  • AseanPlus News
  • Monday, 01 Nov 2004

A BOLD move into the biomedical sciences industry five years ago is paying off handsomely, with several of the world's top scientists and pharmaceutical firms setting up base here. 

Companies have invested millions of dollars in laboratories carrying out leading-edge research at the Biopolis, a futuristic, seven-building complex. 

Officially opened last year, the S$500mil (RM1.14bil) complex is a symbol of the city-state's ambition to be among the world's leading centres for biomedical research. 

Scientists working at the Biopolis include Scotland's Alan Colman, one of those who cloned Dolly the Sheep, and David Lane, a top British cancer researcher who now heads the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology. 

Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis opened a US$122mil (RM464mil) research centre at the high-tech complex in July. 

All of the country's five public biomedical research institutes are also housed at the Biopolis, a move which officials say would facilitate greater interaction with private sector researchers. 

“What is unique about it is that by locating all the public research institutes here, it can provide a scientific anchor. It acts like a magnet so that all the companies will want to locate here,” Beh Swan Gin, director for biomedical sciences at Singapore's Economic Development Board said. 

Colman, now the chief scientific officer of stem cell therapy firm ES Cell International, agreed that a centralised location was an ideal way for Singapore to overcome its lack of scientific resources. 

“One way of actually maximising the benefit of the people it has got here, is to bring them all to the same area of the town,” Colman explained. 

Officials predict output from the biomedical sciences industry could be worth S$12bil (RM27.4bil) by the end of this year, up from S$11.3bil (RM25.8bil) in 2003. – AFP  

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