Here at Cambridge Consultants’ Singapore office, our aim is a simple one. We want to be at the heart of the medical technology industry in Asia-Pacific, to support its growth and success as much as possible. That’s why I jumped at the chance to be on the judging panel for the 2021 MedTech Innovator awards for the APAC (Asia Pacific) region.
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For many years, the original, California-based, MedTech Innovator competition has led the way in encouraging promising health tech start-ups, with winners predominantly coming from the Americas and Europe. Now, we have a specific accelerator programme within the same scheme, solely for our region.
For many weeks in the early part of 2021, I assessed dozens of pitches as the 500 entrants were whittled down to a shortlist of 20. Having been through this process, I can say with confidence: there is no doubt that this region’s medical technology industry is home to smart people with strong tech skills. What we have been lacking, however, is the ecosystem to support them in terms of mentoring, expert workforce and commercialisation. And this new accelerator programme, launched last year, seeks to address that.
Innovation and life-changing solutions
Indeed, compared to the global centre of medical technology on the West Coast of the US, the Asia-Pacific healthcare industry is in its infancy. Many countries here have only just begun to have a medical regulatory system in place. There is much unmet need in terms of patient care and there isn’t the depth of knowledge and experience you’ll find in California, where medical technology firms have been successfully established for decades. For this reason, the programme focuses on start-ups, a crucial part of the medical technology ecosystem, fostering innovation and developing life-changing solutions to improve care for patients. Just to read down the list of the 20 companies on the Asia-Pacific shortlist is to be impressed by the talent to be found these days. There is an innovative kidney dialysis process from Singapore, brand-new blood-clotting technology from India and state-of-the-art cell scanning from South Korea, to name but a few.
Each of the 20 shortlisted firms will now receive mentoring from corporate partners in the form of webinars and one-to-one focused support. Cambridge Consultants will be mentoring 11 of the shortlisted firms. The whole process is a great opportunity for shortlisted companies in terms of fund-raising, as they are already attracting attention from venture capital both in the region and globally.
It will be truly exciting to attend the Grand Finals, to be held in Singapore on October 19-20. The event will be attended by industry leaders, healthcare providers and investors from across the region. The winning company will be determined by audience vote and there is US $300,000 in cash prizes and awards on offer.
The Cambridge Consultants team will be awarding our own specific prize to one fortunate start-up, consisting of US $50,000 worth of support to help their commercialisation journey. The winner of this prize will have impressed with a proposal which is both ground-breaking and has genuine potential. As technology consultants, we are offering the winner the chance to benefit from our wealth of experience in turning clever pitches into commercial reality.
Galvanising for healthcare investment
This award scheme could not have come at a better time. The effect of COVID-19 on Asia-Pacific has been a galvanising one in terms of healthcare investment. The need for countries (and regions) to develop self-sufficiency in terms of medicines, vaccines and health technologies has never been more apparent. To this end, venture capital and technology expertise is now far more prepared to travel than ever before. However, the work culture and environment in the region is still very different from that found in the West, which is why local knowledge is key to ensure success.
Cambridge Consultants has been active in the Asia Pacific region for many years and will continue to invest here for years to come. We wish the shortlisted companies every success on their journey to turn their ideas into reality and look forward to seeing them at the Grand Finals.