The Singaporean biotech scene is remarkably young compared to those of other global biotechnology centres. While it remains rather small and intimate today, the general sentiment is that players in the Singaporean biotech industry will eventually dominate the Asia-Pacific and the world, becoming a key component of the global biotech and pharmaceutical space over the next few decades. Even now, Singapore-based biotech startups are thriving, with no signs of a downtrend any time soon. Below are some of the reasons why biotech startups from all over the world are setting up operations in the city-state.
Biotech startups looking to save cash can find high-quality equipment, special services, and lab space for rent through laboratory service providers in Singapore. Whether it’s secured containment areas, specialised instruments, or temporary laboratory workers, all the inputs a biotech startup requires can be rented or contracted easily. Startups that need more flexibility or are on an extremely limited budget can even opt to use fully-featured co-working laboratories to do their R&D work.
The country has a famously laissez-faire economic policy that has, over the decades, proven critical for increasing innovation in tech, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, and other key areas. The permissive business climate and proximity of so many top-tier innovators have led to the development of a globally renowned multi-industry innovation ecosystem.
This overall setup allows startups to move, pivot, and transform themselves to respond to different challenges and meet market demands. Biotech startups can also easily find new opportunities to collaborate and innovate with other players in the country’s diverse tech spaces.
As a major global transhipment hub, scientific equipment and reagents are easily accessible in Singapore, often at very competitive rates. The country’s location and its mature logistics industry make it possible to easily source supplies, be it microscopes and pipettes, or a new acid spill kit, from all over the world, with minimal added cost to buyers. These same logistics advantages also make the country a great choice for a base of operations serving the entire Asia-Pacific region.
A significant number of the world’s top manufacturers of high-tech instrument and biotech staples are located in Singapore. This means that biotech startups will be able to acquire high-quality domestic equipment and materials at very reasonable rates, without the need to pay additional import and customs fees. While manufacturing businesses in the country do not yet manufacture every single piece of equipment that a biotech startup might need, the gap is likely to be closed in the near future.
The country’s favourable business climate attracts thousands of foreign investors every month. While many of these are entrepreneurs hoping to set up operations in the country, venture capitalists and other similar investors are well-represented as well.
The high success rates of businesses in the country have made it a favoured global location for venture capitalists looking to reduce risks. This is great news for fledgling biotech firms looking for new injections of funds to finance R&D.
Since 2000, the Singaporean government has identified biomedical research as a pillar of the economy. In practical terms, this means that biotech businesses as well as supporting industries have better access to state funds and private equity. This gives qualified biotech startups a very serious reason to consider setting up shop in Singapore.
By most standards, Singapore is considered to be among the least corrupt nations in the world. This dramatically reduces the risks involved in establishing operations in the country and also minimises the hidden costs of doing business. This allows biotech startups to have a much more realistic view of their operating capital and running expenses.
As with most biotech centres, Singapore’s globally important biotech industry draws talents from all over the world. However, its educational system is also highly geared towards STEM, including disciplines that are critical for biotech. This means that biotech startups in Singapore are less likely to have problems with hiring competent and qualified employees compared to many other alternative places.
As a global biotech hub, Singapore still has some catching up to do before it can reach the status of Silicon Valley, Boston, or London. However, while other global biotech hubs have had several decades or even centuries of history cultivating their local scientific R&D spaces, Singapore’s biotech scene is remarkably young for its size and success.
This is mostly down to the fact that the state has proven to be incredibly fertile ground not just for biotech, but a wide variety of other industries and investments as well. Supporting industries are also commonplace in Singapore, allowing small biotech startups to easily find equipment and lab space for rent, which is simply not the case in every large city. What’s more, there is a healthy domestic labour pool for the industries that feed and support the Singapore biotech scene, ensuring the stability of specialised labour inputs.
This is all to say that, for small and scrappy biotech startups, locating in Singapore is probably one of the best things they could do, especially if they intend to serve the booming Asia-Pacific markets.
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