Why ClavystBio believes in life science as a key enabler for Singapore’s economy in the future

dr Christopher Laing, CEO of ClavystBio

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

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

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

Among the companies it has invested in is CoV Biotechnology, which is developing booster vaccines and therapeutics effective against variants of the SARS-2 beta coronavirus. The company’s booster pan-sarbecovirus vaccine aims to protect against future variants and future animal-to-human crossings of related coronaviruses.

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

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In an email interview with e27, Dr. Laing the qualities the company is looking for in a potential investment.

“ClavistBio intends to invest in early-stage companies that have strong potential to make health impacts. This typically involves great science, a disruptive platform technology, and a dedicated team with potential for collaboration, which can range from pure science founders (Seed) to a management team with strong experience and skills (Series A and beyond),” writes he. “We are active partners and bring our networks and skills to our holdings.”

In addition to funding, ClavystBio also offers a holistic support system for startups to be successful. dr Laing explains the firm’s approach as follows:

Collaboration: To create programs with private and public partners that address common critical development needs of life science companies, such as: B. Access to industry and market expertise or frameworks for collaboration on intellectual property translation.

Venture: In addition to funding, the company also helps secure executive talent, access resources, and connect with strategic partners and follow-up investors.

Build: Development of a purpose-built innovation district with collaborative life science and technology infrastructure and specialized facilities, along with a vibrant community of academics, investors, start-ups, industry and professional partners supporting all stages of business growth.

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

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On the future of life sciences

In a statement, ClavystBio highlighted the prospect of life sciences as a “key engine” of Singapore’s economy in the future. The company says a strong commitment to public research and education has resulted in a rich source of technology and scientific talent, and today the sector employs 25,000 workers and contributes about a fifth of the country’s GDP.

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

Other factors such as “dominant megatrends” (i.e., emerging global median income, rapidly aging population, and rising burden of chronic diseases) will also drive higher biomedical spending over the next decade, with the biopharmaceutical market projected to reach US$65 billion by 2026 -dollar will reach.

So what is the opportunity that ClavystBio wants to seize? dr Laing begins by stressing that Singapore is well placed to achieve this for a number of reasons.

“Long years of strategic investment have produced world-class universities and healthcare systems with strong research and talent bases. In addition, 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 technology base. Over the past decade, we have seen in Singapore a growing community of early-stage companies backed by great science and technology that can transform healthcare,” he says.

“However, translating life science discoveries into clinically-ready solutions has always been a challenge due to several factors, including the length of the process; Access to intelligent and patient capital; Availability of strategic partners and experienced entrepreneurs to scale commercialization; and the lack of purpose-built innovation spaces to support the growth of life science companies,” continues Dr. Laing away.

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According to him, ClavystBio’s integrated approach aims 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 challenges do life sciences startups face? Does a life science startup have a growth path similar to startups in other technology sectors?

“All startups share common traits and challenges along the way — the need to validate the merits of a potentially great idea, the need to attract the right talent and experience, and the need to find investors who will not just provide capital, but doors to open . But life science startups can have some hurdles that are different from other technology sectors,” replies Dr. Laing.

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

In 2023, ClavystBio plans to open new areas and announce new partnerships as part of its efforts to continue supporting the life sciences industries. The company also looks forward to expanding its portfolio companies in the life sciences space.

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Photo credit: ClavystBio

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