AsianScientist (May 31, 2022)–Starting a company from scratch is no easy feat. It requires considerable planning and intricate execution to optimize the limited resources to set up and run a business. For biotech startups, this is even more difficult due to high cost associated with securing a physical lab space, meeting safety requirements, and getting the essential equipment and reagents to begin research and development. Not to mention the immense difficulty in securing adequate funding for their ventures. This is something Daphne Teo, CEO and founder of her third startup NSG BioLabs, experienced when she co-founded her second startup Engine Biosciences in 2016.
“Unlike tech startups, biotech startups cannot build their companies from home. They need to have access to a fully equipped BSL-2 laboratory, and building one is very expensive,” said Teo. “It can cost millions of dollars, require specialized knowledge, and at least a year or more to complete.”
Learning from that experience, Teo created NSG BioLabs, a co-working laboratory space that currently houses more than 20 resident companies (including both multinational companies like L’Oreal, Applied Materials and Oxford Nanopore and many of Singapore’s promising biotech startups) in their two sites located at Biopolis Road, Singapore. For many of these resident companies, their successes were enabled by their ability to access the physical space and equipment needed to immediately begin their research and development, so they could deliver precious data leading to investments from venture capital firms.
One of the resident companies that immensely benefitted from NSG BioLabs is PairX Bio. The cancer immunotherapy company was started in Duke-NUS Medical School. As they were expanding, they had to quickly find a larger laboratory space to call their own. With limited funding available and potentially astronomical costs needed to build their own laboratory space, they consulted NSG BioLabs for assistance in mid 2020.
Now, PairX Bio is a permanent resident of NSG BioLabs, making excellent progress that led to additional financing from experienced investors, and has become an emerging success story that Teo proudly talks about.
She remarked, “In addition to space, mentorship and experience sharing is a big part of NSG BioLabs. In fact, one of our partners has been a mentor to PairX Bio since inception.” Teo continued. “First-time founders in biotech often do not have the experience running businesses, and as our mentors at NSG BioLabs are experienced founders and company leaders, we are in a good position to help these startups. Many have found this mentorship and connections early on to be extremely helpful.”
Having seen the growth of many companies in their labs and offices, as well as assisting some resident companies in obtaining new funding from investors, NSG BioLabs are now launching a mentorship and investment funding program to help up-and-coming projects gain a strong foothold in the growing and competitive biotech startup industry in Singapore and across Asia.
The Golden Ticket Program
Amgen, a leading global biotechnology company, and NSG BioLabs, Singapore’s largest and leading biotechnology (biotech) incubator, today announced the launch of a 3-year, Golden Ticket sponsorship. Amgen’s Golden Ticket sponsorship marks the first important development of the NSG Tomorrow program, created to help innovative biotech startups execute their visions.
As part of the sponsorship, Amgen will support one “Amgen Golden Ticket” award each year for three years, providing winners with one year of free residency in NSG Biolabs’ fully equipped turnkey BSL-2 laboratory, as well as additional facility benefits and connections to Amgen’s scientific and business leaders. Companies and pre-incorporated projects which are conducting research in specialized biotech fields or developing novel medicines and therapeutics in specific areas of interest, as well as have raised no more than US$5 million of capital, can apply to the competitive programme.
The programme is also open to companies currently based outside of Singapore, if they have incorporated a subsidiary in Singapore. Amgen’s internal committee shall select the Golden Ticket winner through a review of applications followed by a pitch event.
Applications for the Amgen Golden Ticket program may be submitted between May 31, 2022, and July 10, 2022. The judging panel will review the submissions and announce the list of five shortlisted candidates in early August. The candidates will be invited to virtually present their companies to the judging panel, which will make the final decision on the Amgen Golden Ticket awardee.
This Golden Ticket is the first-such program under NSG Tomorrow, which has the mission of supporting promising innovators through strategic grants, sponsorships, expert networks, and mentorship. Companies will also have opportunities to secure investment from local and international investors among the network of NSG Tomorrow and NSG BioLabs.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.