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Speech by MOS Alvin Tan at AMGEN X NSG Golden Ticket Award Ceremony 2023

Speech by MOS Alvin Tan at AMGEN X NSG Golden Ticket Award Ceremony 2023

Ms My Linh Kha

Senior Vice President & General Manager

Amgen Japan Asia-Pacific

 

Dr Wallace Torres

Vice President, Amgen Site Operations

 

Ms Daphne Teo

CEO and Founder of NSG BioLabs

 

Distinguished Guests,

 

Introduction

 

1. Good afternoon.

 

2. Pleasure to present the Amgen x NSG Golden Ticket.

 

3. Fans of Roald Dahl may recognise the term “Golden Ticket” from the children’s classic “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, where five lucky children get a once-in-the-lifetime opportunity to peep into the magic that goes into the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory.

 

4. Winner of today’s Golden Ticket Award will have access to industry veterans from Amgen and gain insights on how a global biotech company develops market strategies and navigates regulatory hurdles. The winner will also be able to enjoy the lab space and other services provided by NSG BioLabs to jumpstart its biotech journey.

 

5. This partnership between Amgen and NSG BioLabs, to help early-stage biotech startups grow, is the first of its kind in Singapore. But it is not the only “first” around us today.

 

  a. The very facility we are in right now, Amgen’s Next-Gen Biomanufacturing facility, is Amgen’s first manufacturing site in Asia. The facility was supported by the Economic Development Board (EDB).

 

b. NSG BioLabs set up Singapore’s first and largest biotech co-working laboratory and co-working space. Its initial setup here was supported by Enterprise Singapore, and it has grown tremendously in terms of space and value-added services for startups.

 

6. Thrilled to see such a synergistic partnership between Amgen and NSG BioLabs. It is such “firsts”, led by frontrunners, that will only become more important as Singapore’s biotech industry continues to grow.

 

Singapore: An Up-and-Coming Biotech and Pharmaceutical Hub

 

7. But let’s first have a peek at our “Chocolate Factory” – Our Biotech and Pharma Hub. We have the right ingredients as an up-and-coming biotech and pharma hub. A little like Mr Wonka’s many ingredients for his chocolates and sweets.

 

8. Biomedical sciences (or BMS) is a key part of our manufacturing economy. Since 2000:

 

  a. Output has increased 5x and contribute more than 8% of our manufacturing output;

 

b. Employment has also increased more than 4x to close to 26,000 workers; and

 

c. The industry continually adapts to trends and technologies to stay ahead.

 

9. Singapore has become a leading location for companies and organizations to develop, produce and launch innovative products.

 

  a. We are home to more than 60 pharmaceutical and medtech manufacturing plants. They have landed here due to our business-friendly environment, political stability and our geographical location in Asia Pacific.

 

b. We have also remained steadfast in our commitment to invest in research and innovation. We have been deliberate in driving the growth of our capabilities in biomedical sciences, with R&D as the bedrock and have built up a strong scientific base and talent pool.

 

i. In 2022, Singapore was 7th for the top R&D-driven biotech hubs globally.

 

c. We are proud that the number of biomedical startups has tripled over the last decade. Among these 400 biomedical startups, 140 are in biotech-related areas such as therapeutics, diagnostics, drug delivery and drug delivery tools.

 

d. Based on the recent Singapore Venture Funding Landscape report by Deal Street and Enterprise Singapore, our healthcare sector collectively raised US$1.4B over 71 deals in the last 2 years.

 

10. We will continue to support the growth of our local biotech ecosystem, especially to equip our local biotech local entrepreneurs with skills and knowledge to bring their ideas to life.

 

  a. This includes knowledge in obtaining regulatory approvals, conducting clinical trials, fending off IP claims, and scaling their manufacturing and distribution.

 

i. Specifically, we will support scientific talent to gain commercialisation experience to bring assets through the entire journey.

 

ii. We hope to achieve this through SGInnovate’s recently launched Helix Immersion Programme, under our Innovation and Enterprise Fellowship Programme (IFP). IFP seeks to help our research and academic professionals gain on-the-job training at fast growing local companies and pharma MNCs.

 

iii. In Parliament last month, I shared at our MTI Committee of Supply that we have expanded IFP to include public sector platforms like A*STAR’s Experimental Drug Development Centre. This will expand capacity to grow “ambidextrous” talent familiar with both the technical and business aspects.

 

iv. In my speech, I have also highlighted other talent schemes we have in place, such as A*STAR’s Technology for Enterprise Capability Upgrading (T-Up) programme. We will continue to nurture and expand our talent pipeline for the biotech sector.

 

Partnerships between Pharma and Biotechs

 

11. The dual engine of having well established Pharma players and a vibrant biomed startup scene has given rise to new synergies and opportunities.

 

12. Partnerships are crucial for success, and Amgen and NSG have embraced the idea. They actively sought opportunities to collaborate and support partners across various industries and domains.

 

a. In 2019, Amgen entered a multi-target collaboration to co-discover novel antibody therapeutics with Singapore-based biotech, Hummingbird Bioscience. Amgen Ventures also invested into Hummingbird Bioscience’s Series C financing round which raised US$125m.

 

b. In 2022, another Singapore biotech and one of NSG BioLab’s residents, Immunoscape, raised a US$14m financing round with the participation from Amgen Ventures.

 

c. Beyond its interests in biotechs, Amgen has also established partnerships to look for and deploy digital solutions. For example, Amgen used IMDA’s Open Innovation Platform to find customised manufacturing applications, specifically Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) solutions to move totes in their facility more efficiently and securely.

 

Conclusion

 

13. Thank Amgen and NSG BioLabs for their strong support to Singapore’s biotech ecosystem. Mentorship and partnerships with pharma MNCs, venture capitalists and incubators are critical to help biotech startups on their learning journey, and I hope more will follow suit.

 

14. I am excited to know who’s the winner to the Golden Ticket. May the winner go on to contribute to more “firsts” to the biotech industry, build more “Chocolate Factories” and “Great Glass Elevators” above and beyond.

 

15. Thank you.

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