Capping off a successful two-week immersion by the Singapore Biodesign fellows in February of this year, Fogarty Innovation’s senior leadership team, including CEO Andrew Cleeland, COO Denise Zarins and CIO Mike Regan, traveled to Singapore to participate in the fellows’ graduation and meet with a number of like-minded organizations to gain insight into Singapore’s burgeoning medtech ecosystem.
The trip was organized by Singapore Biodesign, a national-level talent development hosted by Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). It included tours and meetings with the National Research Foundation, Enterprise Singapore, SGInnovate, SingHealth, National University Singapore, A*STAR, Biomedical Research Council and Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Center, and a number of venture capitalists associated with supporting investment in these interests.
Fogarty has partnered with Singapore Biodesign, a global affiliate of Stanford Biodesign, for several years, providing mentorship and guidance to help navigate the startup environment. Recently, the program was expanded, offering longer-term mentoring to promising companies in order to advance from the ideation phase to identifying development pathways and helping them advance to the marketplace. Singapore Biodesign and Fogarty initiated a virtual pilot program last year with one company, Vitrogel, and based on its success, a new program called The BOLT Initiative was formalized.
An important learning experience
Similar to the Singapore Biodesign fellows’ visit to Silicon Valley, the Fogarty Innovation trip to Singapore featured numerous meetings and interactions. While the highlight of the visit was the Biodesign graduation, the Fogarty team also became immersed in the Singaporean medtech ecosystem, meeting with multiple companies and agencies. In addition, they met with VCs, who provided great insight into the funding ecosystem, and worked in person with the BOLT teams, holding a group workshop as well as one-on-one sessions.
Along the way, the Fogarty team also had the chance to share their expertise more broadly. Andrew hosted a panel discussing new ways to address mental health and mental wellness, with a group of experts weighing in and underscoring the importance of the topic. In addition, Mike gave a speech to the graduating fellows that emphasized how programs like Singapore Biodesign facilitate continued progress as the entrepreneurs they help train in turn inspire a new generation of innovators and problem solvers.
The team was impressed with the capabilities they saw throughout the visit and the ecosystem’s deep desire to develop innovative solutions to address important healthcare needs.
Equally importantly, the trip yielded discussions about how the groups could work together in the future and continue to evolve partnerships, not only with Singapore Biodesign but others within the ecosystem. “It really opened our eyes as to what’s possible and how we can make both our ecosystems stronger through collaboration,” said Mike. “It was a real privilege to be there in person and work side-by-side to gain a more thorough understanding of how the industry works there. We greatly enjoyed the time we spent with our gracious hosts and the entire team.”
“It was a delight to celebrate the growth of our partnership and introduce the Fogarty delegation to our thriving local ecosystem as we share a mutual interest and passion for industry growth,” said Dr. Lee Phin Peng, Singapore Biodesign’s deputy program director. “We appreciate the experience and quality of mentoring that the Fogarty team has brought to our programs and look forward to nurturing more medtech innovators in Singapore and Asia.”
An enduring investment
One key takeaway was the benefits that have been realized through the resources that the government and organizations have put into research to help expand the country’s medtech ecosystem.
“We know there’s a good reason people invest in education and research, and why they build infrastructure and support innovation. It’s how we can ensure that society has options and will continue to advance and achieve successes that were previously out of reach,” said Mike.
“I was highly impressed by the research capabilities in Singapore and the rapidly maturing innovation ecosystem, which is every bit as engaged and passionate as ours,” said Denise. “The Biodesign and A*STAR teams are sensational to work with, as are their emerging companies. We look forward to a long and fruitful alliance.”
Photo courtesy of Singapore Biodesign.