Singapore’s NRF launches national healthtec consortium

The national consortium will be led by the Institute for Health Innovation & Technology (iHealthtech) at the National University of Singapore (NUS).
By Dean Koh
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The National Research Foundation (NRF) Singapore, a department under the Prime Minister’s Office, announced that it will set up a national Health Technologies Consortium (HealthTEC) to facilitate companies to translate research outcomes into products and services that can improve the health and wellness of individuals. The NRF sets the national direction for research, innovation and enterprise (RIE) in Singapore.
 
This national consortium will be led by the Institute for Health Innovation & Technology (iHealthtech) at the National University of Singapore (NUS). NRF will set aside funding of S$1.5 million over three years to support the activities of the consortium.
 
The consortium will partner Singapore-anchored companies of all sizes – startups, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), large local enterprises (LLEs), and multinational companies (MNCs) – for this effort. Companies that have joined the consortium as founding industry members include Roceso Technologies Pte Ltd, Tip Biosystems Pte Ltd, ST Engineering and Ferrero Asia Pacific Pte Ltd.
 
HealthTEC will bring research outcomes from the lab into market by pooling the scientific expertise of researchers and industry knowledge of companies.
 
HealthTEC’s FOCUS AREAS
 
The consortium will focus on two areas to develop health and wellness solutions:
 
  • Health sensing technologies, which refer to innovations to track and collect health-related data.
These could include tactile sensors to detect standing, walking or sitting pressure; imaging technologies to detect fatigue; or molecular diagnostics to collect vital signs of individuals such as glucose level.
 
  • Health analytics and artificial intelligence (AI), which uses predictive modelling and machine learning technologies to make sense of collected data, with the aim of providing insights and suggesting actions that individuals can take, so as to improve their own health and wellness.
An example would be a mobile app that provides users with personalised information about how their vital signs change when they are seated at work and when they are exercising, and provide suggestions on what they can do to improve their health. On a larger scale, health analytics can be used by researchers to find health and wellness patterns across a population.
 
THE LARGER TREND
 

In the UK, the Digital Health Technology Catalyst, a £35 million funding programme, funded through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund was launched in 2017. The catalyst was created to provide a sustainable pipeline of digital health products which will meet National Health System (NHS)’s needs and support the growth of UK companies.

Just last month, Innovate UK partnered with Singapore in a £1m competition to support the development of collaborative research and development projects between the UK and Singaporean companies. Although the competition scope is open to any sector, applications are particularly encouraged in medical technology, smart mobility and logistics and advanced manufacturing. 

ON THE RECORD

“Around the world, advanced healthcare technologies are changing how we prevent, diagnose and monitor diseases. The new Health Technologies Consortium rides on this development to bring researchers and companies together to translate R&D into innovations that can improve people’s health and wellness. We encourage more companies to join the consortium to benefit from the latest technology and innovation to help them compete in this exciting industry,” said Mr Lim Tuang Liang, Executive Director at the Research, Innovation and Enterprise Coordination Office at NRF in a statement.