When the World Bank starts to criticize a country's investment in biotechnology as too risky, you know something big is happening. Any investor will quickly tell you that drug development has more than its fair share of risk. But the city-state of Singapore is making its basket big and putting quite a few eggs inside. In the year since Singapore made FierceBiotech's original top 5 hot spot, development officials have only been making even bigger strides in putting up cash and opening facilities for developers. Its massive Biopolis is wowing visitors and the country's aggressive stance on cutting-edge technologies is pushing it to the fore of the stem cell world.
"In the year since Singapore made FierceBiotech's original top 5 hot spot, development officials have only been making even bigger strides in putting up cash and opening facilities for developers."
Singapore's economy grew at a blistering 7.9 percent last year, with its generous incentives for biotechnology getting a share of the credit. Last year Singapore announced that it would increase its R&D support budget to $8 billion over five years. The Economic Development Board helps channel money for seed capital, research and development, and manpower development; tax incentives and grants are offered; and Bio*One's $1.2 billion venture capital fund is growing fast. And while the country hasn't had nearly enough prominent home grown scientists to sustain a biotech renaissance, it has successfully wooed top scientists like Alan Colman, who played an instrumental role in cloning Dolly the sheep. The head of Singapore's Biomedical Research Council, Dr. Sydney Brenner, won the 2002 Nobel Prize for medicine.
Singapore's lead has been followed by a number of other Asian countries. Malaysia, for example, is pushing BioNexus as a new biotechnology hub that is employing many of the same venture capital and grant investments alongside ambitious tax breaks. Singapore has chosen to play a transformational role in biotechnology, and it shows no signs of backing down.