Showing posts with label agritech. Show all posts
Showing posts with label agritech. Show all posts

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Israel, China medical technology incubators set up shop in Singapore

THE Republic looks set to become a hothouse in Asia for medical technology, as two medtech incubators from Israel and China set up shop here to develop healthcare products for their commercialisation in bigger markets, such as China and the US.

"Now is an opportune time for medtech," said Todd Dollinger and Steve Rhodes, co-chairmen and chief executives of Israel-based Trendlines.

They told BT: "In China, health spending as a share of GDP was 5.6 per cent in 2013, well below the OECD average of 8.9 per cent, while that of the US is 16.4 per cent. Clearly, China must increase spending while the US must bring down costs. Regardless, both countries need quality health products at economically appropriate prices. This presents a tremendous opportunity for medtech."

Founded in 2007, Trendlines invents, discovers, invests in, and incubates medical and agricultural technologies, and is looking to list on Singapore Exchange in November, said Dr Dollinger and Mr Rhodes.

"Even though Singapore has almost no market for agriculture, its tech, research, hospital, logistics and food processing capabilities lend potential for such an incubator here," they said. Slated for launch in Q1 2016, it will hire at least six local staff with strengths in business development, who will first undergo training in Israel.

Currently, Trendlines' Israel-based team of over 30 engineers, scientists and business analysts screen about 500 medtech proposals yearly to identify promising early-stage technologies for incubation. That it partners these new technologies from early days is a "high risk" investment, said Mr Rhodes, but one that is mitigated by the incubator taking an initial large equity position (50-100 per cent) and being extremely involved in the operations of their portfolio companies.

"Even so, we're more flexible than a venture capital fund," said Dr Dollinger. "Venture capitalists are always looking at the clock. At Trendlines, we are not committed to exit our companies at a certain stage or invest at certain times."

Trendlines' portfolio companies - at least six of 60 have exited via a trade sale or public listing - receive up to US$1.1 million in funding, which comprises an Israeli government grant of about US$558,000, a Trendlines' cash investment of about US$98,000 and a follow-up in-kind investment of US$400,000.

Among its investors are many high net worth individuals and corporates from Singapore, said both men. "Singapore and Israel have a long history of R&D and government engagements. Singapore also has a strong interest in Israeli technology and entrepreneurial knowhow, and is both a wonderful ecosystem and a welcoming environment," they added.

Meanwhile, Incubator in China, one of China's newest and largest medtech and pharmaceutical incubators, now has a Singapore presence via homegrown tech incubator Venturecraft. Fresh from launching a S$4 million working capital fund earlier this year, Venturecraft recently partnered and invested in the Chinese incubator, making it a one-stop platform in Singapore for startups looking to commercialise their products or drugs in China.

Venturecraft's services include providing - in China - access to clinical trials, distribution to hospitals and localised marketing strategies; facilitating regulatory approvals and grants from the Chinese government, and even offering rent-free offices at its premises in Hangzhou.

"This is all part of continuing efforts to become a leading bridge in Asia for Singapore and global companies to foray into China," said Isaac Ho, managing partner of Singapore HealthTech, the private investment firm behind Venturecraft.

Mr Ho added that Incubator in China boasts many of China's top medical experts including government and private hospitals chiefs, as well as IP and regulatory experts, reputable distribution partners, R&D laboratories and government agencies.

Moreover, Venturecraft is exploring an initial public offer in "an appropriate market". Said Mr Ho: "Since Venturecraft operates as an evergreen structure, in the future when we have built enough portfolio and assets, we will explore a listing in order to unlock our shareholders' value."

Just last week, Singapore's medtech industry got a fillip from two other announcements. EDBI, the corporate investment arm of the Singapore Economic Development Board, said it has invested in Massachusetts-based life science tools company Rapid Micro Biosystems, while homegrown accelerator JFDI said it has partnered Germany's Medical Innovations Incubator to "power" pioneering medtech startup bootcamps and an accelerator in Germany; both are said to lead to technology transfer and job-creation opportunities here.