Latest technologies to transform healthcare

03 July 2019 | Research - Impact

From left: Prof Lim; Prof Chen; Prof Tan;  Mr Lim Tuang Liang, Executive Director of the Research, Innovation and Enterprise Coordination Office at NRF; and Mr George Loh, Director of Services and Digital Economy at the National Research Foundation, officially launching the consortium

A new consortium led by the Institute for Health Innovation and Technology (iHealthtech) at NUS will tap on the latest science and technologies originating from Singapore’s research laboratories to create novel and personalised healthcare solutions. Called the Health Technologies Consortium (HealthTEC), it was launched on 1 July with funding of $1.5 million over three years from the National Research Foundation (NRF) to support its activities.

Bringing researchers and companies together, the consortium will leverage on deep tech in areas such as bioelectronics, biomimetic materials, robotics and smart sensors, as well as big data to develop and provide health and wellness solutions. Researchers will have the opportunity to learn the pain points of product development and collaborate with companies to solve them. With access to research and technologies from Singapore’s research institutions, companies could gain a competitive edge through applying the latest innovations and technologies to improve existing products and services as well as develop new products and services.

“Our ultimate aim is to capture value through faster translation of research output into benefits to patients, to society as well as the economy. So far we have excellent industrial participation, not only from multinational corporations but also local enterprises, SMEs as well as start-ups,” said Professor Lim Chwee Teck, Director of iHealthtech and HealthTEC.

NUS is uniquely poised to host the Health Technologies Consortium. Our strong research capabilities in health innovation are well aligned with Singapore’s integrated healthcare clusters, offering exciting opportunities for prototyping and test-bedding of new health technologies. The consortium will be both citizen- and value-centric in its outputs, and will ultimately benefit both local business and individual Singaporeans.

The consortium will also organise regular networking sessions, workshops, roundtable discussions and scientific symposiums to facilitate interactions between industry and academia. Seed grants will be provided to kick-start collaboration projects and form alliances with other international consortia or societies to tackle global healthcare challenges.

Speaking at the launch, Guest-of-Honour Professor Tan Chorh Chuan, Executive Director, Ministry of Health Office for Healthcare Transformation and Chief Health Scientist at the Ministry of Health, said, “If we think about the most critical issues of our time, two that really come to our minds are the rapid change of demography of countries around the world, and the ever increasing impact of technology. With regards to demography, the most dramatic change of course is rapid population ageing.”

While addressing the needs of the current elderly, it is also very important to pay as much attention to the current young who will be turning old in time, he cautioned. “Here, our major emphasis is on promoting wellness, preventing disease and where chronic diseases are present, to control them well so that they do not progress and do not lead to major medical complications,” said Prof Tan.

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Prof Lim (far left) speaking with guests at the event

NUS Deputy President (Research and Technology) and Chairman of the HealthTEC Steering Committee Professor Chen Tsuhan said that the consortium is a tremendous endeavour that brings together collaboration and contributions from a diverse community comprising scientists, clinicians, domain experts, businesses, government agencies and individuals.

“NUS is uniquely poised to host the Health Technologies Consortium. Our strong research capabilities in health innovation are well aligned with Singapore’s integrated healthcare clusters, including the National University Health System, hence offering exciting opportunities for prototyping and test-bedding of new health technologies. The consortium will be both citizen- and value-centric in its outputs, and will ultimately benefit both local business and individual Singaporeans,” he said.

The consortium was launched at the third Health Technology Symposium, organised by iHealthtech. Held on 1 and 2 July at the University, the symposium brought together scientists, engineers, clinicians and industry professionals to discuss the latest technological developments and topics such as Artificial Intelligence, disease risk assessment, medical imaging analysis, microfluidics technologies for diagnosis of diabetes, as well as the use of liquid biopsy and single-cell analysis for cancer diagnosis and therapy.