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ClavystBio’s Conviction: Life Science as a Crucial Economic Driver for Singapore’s Future

ClavystBio CEO Dr Christopher Laing

Last week on Thursday, ClavystBio, a company that aims to accelerate the commercialisation of life sciences discoveries and innovations, announced its launch in Singapore.

Established by Temasek subsidiary CLA Real Estate Holdings, the firm is led by CEO Dr Christopher Laing, who is transitioning from his role as Vice Dean at Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Duke-NUS Medical School, and a board that is chaired by Dr Fidah Alsagoff, Joint Head of the Enterprise Development Group (Singapore) and Head of Life Sciences, Temasek.

Despite its recent launch, ClavystBio has made US$220 million in investment commitments to six early-stage companies and three venture partners in life science space.

One of the companies that it has invested in includes CoV Biotechnology which is developing booster vaccines and therapeutics that are effective against variants of SARS-2 beta coronavirus. The company’s booster pan-sarbecovirus vaccine aims to protect against future variants and future crossovers of related coronaviruses from animals to humans.

In its work in supporting life sciences innovations, ClavystBio intends to focus supporting early stage companies in the areas of cell and gene therapy, biomarkers and digital health.

Also Read: The role of biotech in taking India from developing to developed

In an email interview with e27, Dr Laing explains the characteristics that the firm is looking for in a potential investment.

“ClavystBio looks to invest in early-stage companies with strong potential to deliver health impact. This usually includes great science, a disruptive platform technology and a committed team with potential to collaborate that can be anywhere from only scientific founders (seed) to a management team with strong experience and skills (Series A and beyond),” he writes. “We are active partners and bring our networks and capabilities to our investees.”

In addition to funding, ClavystBio also provides a holistic support system for startups to achieve success. Dr Laing explains the firm’s approach as follows:

Collaborate: To create programmes with private and public partners that address common critical developmental needs of life science companies, such as access to industry and market expertise, or frameworks for collaborating on intellectual property translation.

Venture: In addition to funding, the firm also helps to secure leadership talent, access resources, and connect with strategic partners and follow-on investors.

Build: To develop a purpose-built innovation district with collaborative life sciences and tech infrastructure and specialised facilities, together with a vibrant community of academics, investors, startups, industry, and professional partners supporting all stages of company growth.

“Startups need more than just capital to maximise their chances of success. We have identified three critical areas where ClavystBio has strong potential to contribute to Singapore’s life science ecosystem and accelerate commercialisation and startup growth. These align with the three pillars of our integrated approach: ‘Collaborate, Venture and Build’,” Dr Laing elaborates.

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On the future of life sciences

In a statement, ClavystBio highlights the prospect of life sciences as a “key driver” of Singapore’s economy in the future. The firm says that a deep commitment to public research and training has resulted in a rich source of technologies and scientific talent, and today the sector employs 25,000 workers and contributes to about a fifth of the country’s manufacturing GDP.

But there is nothing like a challenging time that encourages innovation in various sectors. In the past two years, in line with the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures taken to tackle it, the world witnessed a heightened global focus on health security has accelerated the growth of the life sciences sector.

Other factors such as “prevailing megatrends” (i.e the emerging global middle income, rapidly ageing population, and rising chronic disease burden) will also drive increased biomedical spending in the next decade with the biopharmaceutical market projected to reach US$65 billion by 2026.

So what is the opportunity that ClavystBio aims to tap into? Dr Laing begins by stressing that Singapore is well-positioned to achieve this due to a number of reasons.

“Many years of strategic investment have produced world-class universities and health systems with a strong research and talent base. Furthermore, the pace of innovation in biomedical sciences and medicine continues to accelerate due to the convergence of biology and technology – and Singapore has a strong data and tech foundation. Over the past decade, we’ve seen a burgeoning community of early-stage ventures in Singapore backed by great science and technology that can transform healthcare,” he says.

“However, the translation of life sciences discoveries into clinic-ready solutions has always been challenging due to several factors including the length of time of the process; access to smart and patient capital; availability of strategic partners and experienced entrepreneurs to scale commercialisation; as well as the lack of purpose-built innovation spaces to support the growth of life sciences companies,” Dr Laing continues.

Also Read: Is a career in biotech right for you?

According to him, ClavystBio’s integrated approach seeks to address these challenges holistically, and build Singapore’s life sciences ecosystem to create the optimal environment for such companies to thrive and achieve commercial success globally.

But what kind of challenges do life sciences startups face? Does a life science startup have a similar growth journey to startups in other tech sectors?

“All startups share common features and challenges in their journey – the need to validate the utility of a potentially great idea, the need to attract the right talent and experience, and the need to find investors who will not only provide capital but will open doors. But life science startups can have some hurdles that are different from other tech sectors,” Dr Laing answers.

“Health is a heavily regulated industry, often requiring very long lead times and expensive trials to demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of solutions. This can mean the need to access highly specialised facilities (wet labs, clinical sites), and the need for multiple collaborations. Business models for healthcare can be complex, involving multiple parties (patients, hospitals, government, insurers). And as life sciences increasingly converge with digital technology, the needs and interest of investors and partners can become blurred.”

In 2023, as part of its effort to continue on supporting the life sciences industries, ClavystBio aims to open new spaces and announces new partnerships. The firm is also looking forward to expanding its portfolio companies in the life sciences sector.

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Image Credit: ClavystBio

This article was first published on December 12, 2022.

The post Why ClavystBio believes in life science as a key driver of Singapore’s economy in the future appeared first on e27.


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