The government is pumping $30 million more into seeding medical and clean-technology start-ups here, two years after it committed $40 million.
Spring Seeds Capital (SSC), a wholly owned subsidiary of enterprise development agency Spring Singapore, is managing the funds. It is on the hunt for at least two accelerators to co-invest in these start-ups on a 1:1 basis. It is seeking proposals from accelerators with a good track record incubating early-stage start-ups, and who are willing to take a hands-on approach to help them.
The invitation for proposals closes on Jan 10. Potential accelerators may attend a briefing by SSC on Nov 22.
Spring Singapore said: "The selected accelerators will identify, evaluate, finance and manage high-potential start-ups in the medical and clean-technology sectors."
The move to spur investments in medical technology start-ups takes place as Singapore makes a foray into new areas in biomedical sciences, which has been identified as the fourth pillar of the country's economic strategy.
Back in 2010, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that the government would spend $16.1 billion between 2011 and 2015 on research, innovation and enterprise. The two tranches of funding for medical and clean-technology start-ups are part of this Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2015 plan.
Edwin Chow, executive director of Spring Investments, which oversees SSC, said: "With this second tranche of funding, we hope to expand the pool of accelerators who can fast-track the growth of Singapore start-ups in medical technology, as well as other emerging sectors such as clean technology."
Because of the knowledge and capital-intensive nature of these sectors, start-ups typically take a longer time to commercialise their research.
Mr Chow said: "To better enable the success of the start-ups, there is a need for a longer investment period, of higher quantums, which is supported by incubation."
After the $40 million was committed, two accelerators, Clearbridge BSA and Singapore Medtech Accelerator, were appointed in May 2012 to identify and co-invest with SSC in high-potential medical technology start-ups.
They were also to take a hands-on approach with these start-ups in building up their management teams, meeting regulatory requirements and connecting with potential customers.
To date, three investments have been made. One was in Clearbridge Biomedics, which has developed proprietary technology to detect cancer cells in the blood, thereby raising the accuracy of diagnoses and potentially improving treatment paths for cancer.
A second investment was made in the Singapore Institute of Advanced Medicine, which is researching ways to tailor health care to an individual's unique biological profile so doctors can map out treatment plans with greater certainty.
The third investment was made in Sano V, which is developing a treatment for erectile dysfunction based on stent technology. This treatment may benefit patients who do not respond well to drugs or who prefer a less invasive option.
The global medical technology industry is expected to be worth US$300 billion in 2017, driven largely by demands from an ageing global population and the prevalence of chronic diseases such as cancer and diabetes.