SPRING Singapore has set aside $10 million to help SMEs in the medical and clean technology sectors develop technology ideas into products and services through the appointment of three private sector providers or translators (PSTs).

Two PSTs,  AITbiotech  and  Sys-Mac Automation Engineering , will identify, develop and commercialise Intellectual Property (IP) for the medical technology industry; while a collaboration between  360iP and Nanyang Technological University (NTU)  will be servicing the clean technology sector. This was announced today by Mr Lim Hng Kiang, Minister for Trade & Industry, at the launch of CleanTech One, the first building in JTC’s CleanTech Park.

The three PSTs will complement the efforts of six Centres of Innovation (COIs) 1  by contributing to the pool of IPs available and accelerating the commercialisation of these ideas. The PSTs will offer SMEs a pay-per-use model so the latter will have access to their services without having to set up their own in-house research facility or to spend on manpower or equipment. Besides the translation of IP, the PSTs will provide R&D services such as validation and feasibility studies. A total of 40 IP translation projects and 200 R&D services will be undertaken by the PSTs over the next three years.

Ms Chew Mok Lee, SPRING’s Assistant Chief Executive, says, “Research done in laboratories is usually raw and still at a conceptual stage. The PSTs will identify suitable IP and help develop these into usable technology for their SME clients. Hence, the PSTs will do the job of “translating” lab research into working prototypes which can be commercialised into innovative products and services. Such technology-based products will put SMEs in a stronger position to compete in an increasingly competitive and crowded marketplace, where those which demonstrate niche capabilities will present higher barriers of entry to their competitors.”

Headquartered in Singapore, 360iP is a global company specialising in technology commercialisation, investment and fund management. It was established by U.S.-based Battelle Memorial Institute, the world’s largest independent R&D organisation and Battelle Venture, its venture capital arm. Said Glenn Kline, President and CEO of 360iP, “We are extremely pleased to collaborate with NTU, a leading research-intensive university, to provide IP translation services in clean technology-related sectors. This is a high-growth sector which is expanding in pace with the demand for eco-friendly solutions, particularly in face of climate change, fossil fuel depletion and rapid urbanisation in Asia. We will be able to offer Singapore SMEs access to NTU’s world-class facilities as well as 360iP and Battelle’s international network of research institutions and partnerships with more than 200 universities and organisations worldwide.”

AITbiotech and Sys-Mac Automation Engineering are Singapore-based companies with a track record in commercialising IP. AITbiotech, which specialises in life sciences such as cancer diagnosis and DNA sequencing, has commercialised 13 IPs since 2008, with another 12 IPs in progress. Mr Alex Thian, CEO of AITbiotech, says, “Bringing products to the market in the medtech sector can be extremely time-consuming and resource-intensive. Besides significant upfront investment, the commercialisation of medtech products also calls for relevant industry experience. We welcome the PST initiative, which will further enhance the local medtech ecosystem by enhancing the presence of commercial players. AITbiotech will be expanding our team of R&D and commercialisation specialists so we can be in a stronger position to transfer that technical expertise and know-how to local enterprises.”

Sys-Mac has an in-house R&D and engineering team which is 280-strong. With its appointment as a PST, the company will be collaborating with the local healthcare sector to provide clinical trial support and identify innovative ideas for development into IPs. It will also offer a suite of services ranging from proof-of-concept to commercialisation in collaboration with its network of medtech service providers. Mr Sim Giok Lak, Chairman of Zicom Group Limited, the parent company of Sys-Mac, said, “Asia’s ageing population and rapid growth have led to a growing demand for more effective medtech solutions, and enterprises which are able to develop innovative solutions based on strong R&D can better penetrate and serve this high-growth market. Sys-Mac will be working with other IP providers, both locally and abroad, to source for the best technologies to serve the Singapore SMEs.”