Singapore Innovators Glean Valuable Insights from Fogarty Innovation’s Expertise

by | Mar 1, 2024 | Fogarty Innovation, Mentoring

One of the signature events that heralds the beginning of a new year at Fogarty Innovation is the January arrival of the Singapore Biodesign Innovation and Faculty Fellows. The Fellows are the first of three cohorts through Singapore Biodesign and Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) that FI coaches each year in an ongoing global innovation partnership that pairs FI’s experienced senior staff with some of Singapore’s most talented physicians, entrepreneurs and scientists. The goal of the partnership is to advance high value healthtech solutions towards patients in need around the world. 

“The Singapore Fellows visit us during the final phase of their training to gain a deeper understanding of the US healthtech landscape and to hone key aspects of their business plan,” said Mike Regan, chief innovation officer at FI. While the Faculty Fellows, whose focus is deepening their expertise and market exposure as instructors, clinician-innovators, and senior scientists, visit for a few days, the Innovation Fellows stay for a full two weeks of intensive coaching. Hosted by A*STAR, Singapore Biodesign is a national talent development platform and a global affiliate of Stanford Biodesign. 

“The Innovation Fellows come to FI with a well-developed project they have been working on during their time in the program,” said Regan. “We work with them to vet that project specifically and to provide broader training on core elements that are essential to commercializing in the US, from raising capital to regulatory pathways.” 

During their stay at FI, the Innovation Fellows go through a Fogarty Physical, which is a deep dive across all aspects of their technology and business plan with the goal of testing assumptions and identifying areas that require further development. “They also go through a series of learning modules with each of our subject matter experts to enhance their understanding of these topics and help them think through everything they need to be considering,” Regan detailed. 

Perhaps most importantly, FI helps the team view their clinical or technology solution as a true business. “We bring a lot of real-world pragmatism to the table,” said Regan. “These teams are incredibly skilled, with well-thought-out solutions that address important needs. But turning those technologies into a business that will appeal to US investors requires a different way of thinking. Investors want to know what the business model is for this, who’s paying for it, and how they will get a return for their investment as a result.” 

Part two – BOLT

In February, we welcomed the next Singaporean team to FI, the annual winner of the BOLT Initiative. A competitive acceleration program, BOLT was launched by Singapore Biodesign to help local innovators and entrepreneurs hone promising projects and prepare for translational efforts in the US and other geographies.

The program starts each year with an eight-team Founders Forum that FI and Singapore Biodesign leaders organize in Singapore. “Both programs mentor and coach the teams over time, down-selecting at key junctures,” explained Regan. “Ultimately, the winning startup comes to FI for three weeks of intensive coaching.” 

This year’s BOLT team was Meracle Health, a startup working to improve the management of respiratory conditions like pediatric asthma with its Whizz device, which is designed to increase efficiency of medication delivery, encourage compliance, and track intake data. 

During their stay, Meracle founders Melvin Loh and Rachel Hong spent time with physicians, investors, and other industry specialists, and met with each member of the FI team. Loh found the deep dive into reimbursement, which was led by FI chief commercialization officer Marga Ortigas-Wedekind, particularly helpful. “Marga imparted invaluable lessons that prompted profound reflection,” he said. “We discovered that beyond securing reimbursement CPT codes, developing a comprehensive strategy to address coverage and payment considerations is important.”

Added Hong, “We were also grateful for the opportunity to connect with clinicians from various healthcare providers to understand the workflow and the different perspectives of our solution within the acute and chronic care setting.” 

Both founders agreed that the program was high value. “Healthcare systems differ vastly around the world, especially how it is delivered and paid for,” said Hong. “The US market is particularly challenging due to its diversity in population and geographically specific policies. While there is a lot of information one could access to understand the market better, nothing replaces the value of real-world experience navigating the US market effectively and the Fogarty team has heaps of it.”  

After completing their in-person time at FI, the BOLT teams receive ongoing remote coaching from the FI staff as they work to execute the development plan created during their stay.

“Fogarty Innovation brings a unique and high-touch mentoring experience to high potential Singapore startups/pre-startups who are targeting the US health and medtech market,” said Singapore Biodesign program director Mary Kan.  “These programs have helped many teams either secure their next round of funding and/or gain market traction to continue on their commercialization journey.”

Up next: ACTIVE and beyond

Next on the horizon for 2024 is FI’s continued involvement with the A*STAR Commercialization and Translation In medical deVicEs Program – “ACTIVE.”

“ACTIVE is a pilot program in which FI works with A*STAR, Singapore’s lead public sector agency that spearheads economic oriented research to advance scientific discovery and develop innovative technology. Our role in this program is to evaluate the potential of translational science platforms to progress towards commercial opportunities,” said Regan. Last year the FI team worked with A*STAR’s Translational Biophotonics Lab. 

Looking ahead, Regan notes there are several other Singapore programs in development in which FI may play a role. “Singapore combines a robust medtech ecosystem with strong training and support for its innovation teams,” he said. “Our goal is to help them understand everything that’s required for US market readiness. At the same time we get to learn from them and get involved with exciting technologies that make us feel like we’re getting to see the future early.” 

  • Search by category: