13 Oct 2009
Press Releases

MedTech Manufacturing Consortium to Help Local Industry Expand into the Growing Medical Technology Industry 13-Oct-2009

The 26-member consortium will reinforce local industry capabilities and establish medical technology R&D platforms for technology and knowledge transfer by exploiting the results of R&D collaboration with the research institutes, value chain partners and MNCs.

1. Singapore, 13 October 2009: The MedTech Manufacturing Consortium, spearheaded by the Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech), a research institute of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), is launched today.

Objectives of Consortium

2. The consortium will develop capabilities and technologies to address the needs and challenges faced by local companies to diversify into the medical technology industry which is knowledge-intensive, requires strict manufacturing discipline and demands miniaturisation, ultra-precision capabilities and high quality components. The consortium establishes medical technology R&D platforms for technology transfer and knowledge sharing amongst stakeholders in the medical technology industry. Through these capabilities enhancements, the local manufacturing industry, specifically the electronics and precision engineering industries can overcome entry barriers to the thriving medical technology industry (Annex 2 refers).

3. Commented Dr Lim Ser Yong, Executive Director of SIMTech, “Since our establishment in 1993, SIMTech has been working with medical technology and supporting enterprises in the precision engineering and electronics clusters in product design, manufacturing processes, creation of medical technology systems and improving manufacturing operations. With the support of the relevant government agencies and industry associations, we are now able to provide a more holistic assistance to local enterprises in the medical technology sector.”

Importance of Medical Technology Industry

4. The medical technology industry is a new area of growth for Singapore and provides an excellent opportunity for the local electronics and precision engineering industries to diversify and expand their businesses. As part of Singapore’s burgeoning biomedical sciences sector, the medical technology industry doubled its manufacturing output from S$1.5 billion in the year 2000 to about S$3 billion in the year 2008. Over the same period, its manpower base also doubled from about 4,000 to more than 8,200 last year. By the year 2015, the medical technology sector targets to achieve S$5 billion in manufacturing output (Source: EDB, 2009).

About MedTech Manufacturing Consortium

5. The MedTech Manufacturing Consortium is supported by the Economic Development Board (EDB), International Enterprise Singapore (IE Singapore), Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) and SPRING Singapore, with the Singapore Precision Engineering and Tooling Association (SPETA) and Biomedical Engineering Society (BES) participating as an industry association partner.

6. Said Mr Thian Tai Chew, Director of Technology Business Division, IE Singapore, "With the forming of this consortium, we hope to grow the capabilities of more Singapore-based companies in the medtech segment. Singapore-based companies in the consortium can leverage on IE Singapore's overseas activities, such as business missions and trade fairs, to increase their exposure to the potential and requirements of the global medtech sector, so as to increase their exports and to find new partners and customers overseas."

7. On improving SMEs' competitiveness through technology innovation, Mr Simon Lim, Director of Manufacturing and Engineering Division, SPRING Singapore said, "SPRING has partnered various institutes to set up 5 Centres of Innovation (COI), including the Precision Engineering COI (PE COI) in partnership with SIMTech, where local enterprises can have ready access to technology, knowledge and R&D infrastructure. By pooling resources and seeking opportunities as a collective group, the consortium will enable more manufacturing SMEs to develop new solutions for the thriving medtech sector."

8. "WDA is excited to support this effort. Through the WSQ Graduate Diploma in MedTech Manufacturing, we hope to raise manpower capability in this high skilled and technology intensive sector. The programme will also help both new entrants and existing professionals capitalise on the excellent career and job opportunities in the sector," said Mr Chan Heng Kee, Chief Executive, WDA

9. "As an industry association, SPETA strives to help companies in the precision engineering industry to grow their businesses. Medtech manufacturing has been identified as a growing sector and SPETA can tap on the expertise in SIMTech to help develop new products and new capabilities. This initiative is a timely vehicle to help Medtech companies achieving their objective," commented Dr Ricky Souw, SPETA Chairman.

10. "Biomedical Engineering Society values this opportunity to work closely with SIMTech to push for initiatives that would help the local medical devices sector to grow and most importantly to provide the necessary training and exposure for our local biomedical engineers to meet Singapore's medical technology industry's demands and challenges. I am confident that this strategic alliance in building a collaborative platform, will contribute vastly to the future of Singapore," highlighted Prof James Goh, President, Biomedical Engineering Society (Singapore).

11. To date, 26 companies ranging from MNCs and local enterprises have signed up as members of the consortium (Annex 6 refers). Arising from the two roundtable discussions involving 50 companies across the medical technology value chain and partners from the healthcare and regulatory bodies, three main challenges hindering the local manufacturing industry from participating extensively in the medical technology industry are identified. Broadly, these are the lack of:

  1. business and market intelligence
  2. skilled manpower knowledgeable in manufacturing technology and regulations and certifications of medical devices and products; and
  3. technology, know-how and R&D expertise

12. A framework was developed to address common issues and consortium projects identified to help local enterprises tap into new markets and position new products and capabilities for the global medical technology industry.

13. The identified areas to enhance local capabilities involve medical device design and development, supply chain management and process technologies in the manufacturing of small medical technology components and devices such as contact lenses, scientific analytical equipment, implantables, syringes, stents, cathethers, hearing aids and research instruments. The industry, SIMTech and WDA will spend S$ 10 million over the next five years for technology and manpower development.

14. The Precision Engineering Workforce Skills Qualifications (PE WSQ) Graduate Diploma in MedTech Manufacturing, developed by WDA in collaboration with SIMTech, complements the consortium to help upgrade the knowledge and skill sets of the existing pool of engineers and managers in the local industry as well as facilitate the entry of new talents into the medical technology industry (Annex 3 refers).

15. The WDA Skills Programme for Upgrading and Resilience (SPUR) can be tapped to support the manpower development activities of the consortium (Annex 4 refers).

16. An array of MedTech Manufacturing Consortium activities are planned for the benefit of participating members. These range from medical technology consultancy services, partnership R&D projects, business matchmaking and meet-the-consultant sessions, medical technology overseas study missions, and medical technology conferences, seminars and exhibitions.

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