SINGAPORE'S biomedical manufacturing output grew at a robust pace last year to reach $21 billion and employed 13,000 people, the Economic Development Board (EDB) said yesterday.
According to Spring Singapore, last year's production outpaced the previous year's $19 billion and a value-add of $10.6 billion.
Last year, the sector attracted cumulative capital of $1.2 billion - the funds that firms invest over the entire period of their project - putting Singapore on track to become Asia's biomedical centre, the EDB said. Once completed, these projects will create more than 1,600 jobs.
Singapore's strategic location makes it a prime spot for companies seeking to tap into the region's fast-growing healthcare markets.
"As Asia's leading bio-cluster, Singapore is well-positioned to help biomedical- sciences companies accelerate their innovation and capitalise on Asia's growth story," said Mr Julian Ho, EDB's assistant managing director.
The biomedical manufacturing cluster, which includes pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and medical-technology products, has been hailed as manufacturing's saviour in previous quarters.
Manufacturing's 39.4 per cent rebound in January over the same period last year - its biggest climb in 26 years - was spurred by an almost 50 per cent surge in biomedical output, particularly of pharmaceutical ingredients.
Pharma also came to the rescue last year, when manufacturing numbers bounced back in the second and third quarters largely due to Influenza A (H1N1), said DBS economist Irvine Seah in an earlier interview with my paper.
The medical-technology sector has also done its part in pulling up productivity, said Mr Lee Hock Wee, senior manager for industry analysis unit at the Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology.
Its 1.8 per cent projected rise during last year's downturn comes on the back of healthy growth over the last nine years.
Government efforts to attract multinational corporations to set up operations here have contributed to med-tech's resilience, Mr Lee added. "Strong overseas demand for therapeutic respiration apparatus, surgical instruments and cosmetic dental fittings is likely to continue driving output here too," he said.
The robust growth prospects have seen increased hiring across the biomedical manufacturing sector. Last year, about 900 jobs were added, bringing total headcount to over 13,000. Meanwhile, companies like 3M and Welch Allyn are tapping into Singapore's scientific and engineering know-how to develop cost-effective products.
According to the EDB, more than 4,300 researchers are carrying out biomedical- science R&D in 50 companies and 30 public-sector institutes, expending more than $1 billion annually.
In the same period, leading Japanese pharmaceutical firm Takeda opened its new regional headquarters to work with its regional clinical-trial coordination centre and R&D centre in Singapore. Drug giant GlaxoSmithKline, which recently opened its first vaccine plant in Asia here, is training the local manpower required to run its facilities.
Medical-technology firm Medtronic also announced it will build its first-in-Asia cardiac-device global manufacturing facility in Singapore.
Globally, the industry faces several challenges, including the need to improve research-and-development productivity.
It must also navigate diverse cultures when doing business in this part of the world.
Source: AsiaOne News