Business

Biopolis to expand to better support biotech start-ups

Research and development (R&D) hub Biopolis will be expanded to meet the needs of biotechnology start-ups, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon said yesterday.

Industrial landlord JTC expects Phase 6 of Biopolis to be completed by mid-2022. The tender for the work was launched in August and closes on Dec 4.

This move is part of initiatives to strengthen the ecosystem to support biotech start-ups, said Dr Koh, who was speaking at the official launch of NSG BioLabs, an incubator that provides a conducive R&D environment to life sciences companies. The incubator is also in Biopolis.

Dr Koh said: "Progress in biomedical sciences is accelerating. Advances in areas such as gene editing, stem cell manipulation and immunology have fuelled the development of next-generation therapeutic approaches globally... These trends present significant opportunities for Singapore."

Phase 6 of Biopolis will add 35,000 sq m of business park space for biomedical sciences research and supporting activities and 6,000 sq m for office and retail use. This will include 2,000 sq m of fitted-out laboratory spaces with lab benches, waste drainage and exhaust provisions.

Dr Koh said this will help biotech start-ups that find it difficult to access wet labs - or experimental labs where chemicals, for instance, are tested, after they graduate from incubator or accelerator spaces.

Developing such labs can be prohibitively expensive for many companies, he added.

"(The expansion) can reduce start-ups' upfront expenditure costs to access wet labs and shorten their time-to-market," Dr Koh said.

Mentoring is also important for start-ups, he said.

NSG BioLabs will give start-ups access to mentorships and networks through entrepreneurs-in-residence, together with around 1,400 sq m of wet lab and office space and funding. - THE STRAITS TIMES

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