Business Beyond Borders

Published by Biotech Connection Singapore on

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

How do Singapore life sciences companies gain competitive advantage when breaking into the overseas US and China markets? To discuss this question, Biotech Connection Singapore (BCS) and Chinese American Biopharmaceutical Society (CABS) jointly organized “Business Beyond Borders” at Biopolis on 11th October 2017. Speakers with life science industry experience in US and China shared their perspectives, engaging over 80 attendees. We are deeply appreciative of the support given by our sponsor, Singapore Sichuan Hi Tech Park, and the CABS founding advisers for organizational guidance.

The event opened with Mr. Simon Cen, Singapore chapter chair of CABS, and Dr Ang Siang Yun, President of BCS, introducing their respective organizations. Following that, Mr. Simon Cen and Dr. Cheni Kwok, President of CABS in San Francisco, discussed in depth how companies can expand overseas to the Chinese market.

Mr. Simon Cen, Managing Partner of Enverest Pte Ltd, has more than 13 years of experiences in management consulting and corporate strategy. He shared that a company that is expanding globally should consider 3 key elements: (1) Market needs (2) Technology needs (3) Talent needs. Dr Cheni Kwok, founder and Managing Partner of Linear dreams LLC, advised companies to tread carefully when entering the China market as there are various regulations involved at the provincial level, city level and national level. She suggested that Singaporean companies can collaborate with local players, entering joint ventures to leverage on the local player’s “guan-xi” or relationships.

After the discussion, Dr Tan Yann Chong, co-founder and Head of Research at Atreca, shared his inspiring journey as a life science entrepreneur in San Francisco and Singapore. Dr Tan engaged the audience with his incredibly tough experience in inventing the Immune Repertoire Capture technology during his days as a PhD student at Stanford University. He also shared how he learnt many areas from scratch during the initial startup phase, such as securing lab space and procuring equipment. Dr Tan also emphasized that before pitching to investors, startups should ensure 2 key areas are secured: (1) filing of strong intellectual property (IP) and (2) having the Freedom To Operate (FTO).

The event concluded with a panel discussion, with the panel consisting of Mr. Simon Cen, Dr. Cheni Kwok, Dr. Tan Yann Chong, Mr. Nick Davies, Dr Lawrence Wee and Mr. Wayne Teo. Mr. Nick Davies, associate at Morrison Foerster, pointed out that startups entering the China market should secure intellectual property rights and stressed the importance of intellectual property laws in China, especially in joint ventures. Mr. Wayne Teo, Director of Singapore-Sichuan Hi-Tech Innovation Park, mentioned that different territories of China have varying levels of government funding and support for life science startups. Hence, he recommended startups do their due diligence in this area before choosing a region to expand operations in China. Mr. Lawrence Wee, Chief Data Scientist at Allianz and Zuellig Pharma, shared his insights on how big data would affect the growth of the life sciences markets in the near future.

The objective of “Business Beyond Borders” is to improve entrepreneurs’ understanding of key issues in overseas expansion, and stimulate discussion in Singapore’s growing life sciences industry. This is also the first event jointly organized by BCS and CABS. In line with the Singapore government’s firm commitment to investing in biomedical research, BCS and CABS hope to encourage cross-border innovation and flourishing of life science entrepreneurial activities.

About BCS
Biotech Connection Singapore (BCS) is a non-profit organization that aims to promote life science entrepreneurship, providing a platform to connect entrepreneurs, investors, industry and business professionals. With over 1900 members, BCS engages the life science community via educational events, consulting projects and communications. For more information, visit

About CABS
Being headquartered in the San Francisco Bay area, the Chinese American Biopharmaceutical Society (CABS) hopes to have an extended overseas presence in Singapore by organizing seminars and panel discussions catering to different segments of the life sciences industry. Earlier on this year, CABS held the “CABS Introduction Event in Singapore“ which focuses on providing the Singapore life sciences community with access to CABS’ global network. CABS will continue to organize more educational seminars to foster collaborative opportunities and fruitful exchanges between Singapore life sciences community and existing members in the San Francisco Bay Area and China.

Biotech Connection Singapore (BCS) is part of an international network of non-profit organizations, that aims to promote the transfer of ideas from theory to real world applications by providing a platform for fostering interaction between academia, industry and businesses.