Desafía Singapore applications opening soon

MedTech Actuator is supporting Spain’s next wave of health ventures to take bold, strategic steps into Asia Pacific’s thriving innovation ecosystem with the new Desafía Singapore program.

Paving the way to enter new markets.

As a gateway to South East Asia, and with a life sciences ecosystem valued at $22.5 billion (Startup Genome, 2021), Singapore is primed to enable European ventures to unlock new opportunities to transform healthcare. MedTech Actuator is proud to work together with ICEX Spain Trade and Investment to help ventures realise this potential with greater speed and scale. 

Building on the success of the inaugural Desafía Singapore in 2021 – applications will open soon to continue catalysing the growth of Spain’s MedTech and BioTech ventures in Asian markets.

Supported by the Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2025 masterplan by the National Research Foundation, Singapore has set aside $25 billion to support innovation over the next 5 years.

Singapore is also home to more than 50 regional and global headquarters of healthcare MNCs, with more than $300M invested in startups in 2018 alone. Singapore’s ecosystem supports the commercialisation of innovation in healthcare through providing strong clinical infrastructure, robust IP protection and leading biomedical research. 

Singapore welcomes entrepreneurs and tech talent to anchor themselves in Singapore with talent initiatives like Entrepass visas for foreign entrepreneurs. MedTech Actuator was recently appointed as an Entrepass partner to support overseas entrepreneurs – including Desafía Singapore participants – to establish a business in Singapore.

Expanding networks for greater health impact. 

Leading up to the launch of Desafía Singapore, our General Manager Singapore Joshua Lim travelled to Spain to help promote the new program. Joshua met with startups, accelerators, investors, and bioregions in Spain’s healthcare ecosystem such as Asebio (Asociación Española de Bioempresas), Telefonica, Basque Health Cluster, Caixa Capital Risc, Barcelona Health Hub and ACCIÓ.

“Spain’s vibrant ecosystem creates innovative and digitally-enabled medical solutions that are well-positioned to disrupt traditional healthcare services,” said Joshua.

“We see new opportunities for expansion and collaboration of commercial activities between Spain and Singapore’s ecosystem, and are excited to catalyse the acceleration of Spanish companies to bring their innovations to the leading medical institutions and corporations in the Asia Pacific region through the Desafía Singapore program.” 

ICEX Spain Team, 2021 Photo of Desafía Singapore program participants on Zoom call, 2021

The inaugural Desafía Singapore, 2021.

Spain’s health venture founders ready for liftoff in Asia.

An impressive cohort of health venture founders from across Spain joined the inaugural, two week immersive Desafía Singapore in late 2021. 

Founders built expertise in navigating global growth opportunities in Singapore, neighbouring Asian countries, and Australia. They participated in commercialisation workshops with a laser focus on growth in Asia, developed new cultural sensitivity to help them navigate the nuances of working in different countries across Asia, connected with industry mentors, and networked widely with healthcare stakeholders and investors.

Here’s what founders had to say about their Desafía Singapore experience.

“Great insights on the regulatory frameworks and inner workings of healthcare systems in many different countries.” –Pablo Sanchez, Adamo Robot

“I feel more prepared to approach the culture and market, knowing how the ecosystem works and with local friends that can support me. The biggest benefit of the program was the human relationships built, although I would call it a privilege. Thank you so much for everything.” –Vera Guerreiro, Mediktor

“I now have a better understanding of different MedTech spaces in Singapore and other countries in Asia – and how our company can enter and work in them.” –Jose Angel D’Amico Bravo, Cella 

“In other training and mentoring programs, you feel from day one that it is going to be a waste of time. But this was not the case with Desafía Singapore. We joined the program to build our knowledge of the Asia Pacific market and to start thinking about it for the next four to five years. But the last two weeks of sessions have been amazing. We have learnt so much about your region and discovered that we could have a sweet spot there.” –Ruben Molina, Innitius

Ready to grow your health venture in Asian markets?

If you are based in Spain and preparing to grow your health venture in Asian markets, Desafía Singapore can support you. 

Applications are opening soon – register your interest or reach out with questions to Joshua Lim at joshua[@]medtechactuator.com.

Feature photo: José María Blasco Ruiz, Carmen García-Cervigón, Joshua Lim and Patricia Rodríguez-Lucena at ICEX Spain Trade and Investment.

Desafía Singapore is delivered by ICEX Spain Trade and Investment and MedTech Actuator, supported by the Embassy of Spain in Singapore, Enterprise Singapore, National Health Innovation Centre Singapore, Agency for Care Effectiveness – Singapore, Stendard, National University Health System, National Healthcare Group Singapore, Singapore Economic Development Board, Ernst & Young, Austrade, HealthTEC Singapore Health Technologies Consortium, Philips, Singapore Biodesign, Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), Intralink Group, and Ontogenix

EloCare: Helping people age gracefully with IoMT technology.

MedTech Actuator startup EloCare Pte Ltd is innovating in the internet of medical things (IoMT) and artificial intelligence (AI) to develop connected and smart healthcare devices that help people live longer and age gracefully.

Dr Mabel Yen Ngoc Nguyen and Fandi Peng founded Singapore-based EloCare, bringing their strong medical research, engineering, and entrepreneurial backgrounds to the company – with a focus on chronic and aging care.

Mabel and Fandi discovered that there was no reliable tool to detect and monitor over 35 menopausal symptoms, and went on to build the first menopause tracker. The wearable and accompanying mobile app can serve as a personalised healthcare assistant to help women make more informed decisions, with the support of their physician, about how to manage menopause. Easy to use and secure, the solution monitors symptoms through biomarkers and self-assessments, and interprets this data to provide lifestyle and medical suggestions. The team is working closely with researchers and clinicians to develop this solution.

“Throughout the R&D process, we uncovered more healthcare problems in aging and chronic care that can be addressed with our IoMT infrastructure. We are now working with our clinical partners to deliver better care,” says Mabel, EloCare CEO and Co-Founder.

EloCare recently won the Open Innovation Challenge 2020 for Industry Track, delivered by Enterprise Singapore in partnership with five of Singapore’s leading healthcare providers. The award opens more opportunities for EloCare to co-develop, test, and deploy solutions using their IoMT infrastructure with healthcare providers.


MedTech Actuator x Elocare

Starting with an idea, preliminary research, and a raw prototype the team joined Asia Pacific’s MedTech catalyst MedTech Actuator in 2020 to develop their prototype and go-to-market, IP, and regulatory strategies – and to connect with industry experts and potential investors.

“The MedTech Actuator has a strong local and international support network that spans government, product development, corporate, clinical, research, investor, and VC partners,” says Mabel.

Being embedded in this ecosystem gave EloCare brand advantages and opportunities to connect with strategic partners and investors. The MedTech Actuator has helped EloCare to connect with the right individuals for feedback and advice in the health innovation ecosystem, and the founding team would not hesitate to recommend the program to emerging founders.

“Navigating a startup in the MedTech space has unique challenges with a longer time horizon compared to a typical startup. Being in the right network and getting professional support early from MedTech Actuator can help startups avoid costly lessons down the road and tap into many opportunities to connect with strategic partners and investors.”

Mabel says the team was fortunate to have Johannes Mang as a mentor to guide them during the program and refine company strategies.

“Johannes is very experienced in the different stages of a startup journey and willing to put himself in our shoes to work through problems and share his insights,” says Mabel.

Photo of road at dusk, pink sky, street lights, empty road in one lane, car light streak through lane travelling opposite direction.

EloCare tips for early-stage MedTech entrepreneurs

Mabel notes that early-stage startups share a common challenge to develop a clear vision of what can be achieved in the short-term and long-term.

“Founders can be ambitious in their startup vision to create a disruptive solution. However being an early-stage startup with time and resource constraints, it is important to have a balance of ambition and pragmatism and to be flexible with goals,” says Mabel.

Mabel recommends ensuring the long-term vision can be broken down into attainable and profitable milestones. She says that it is also important to maintain focus and ambition – always working towards creating impact and developing a competitive advantage.

“Within the EloCare team, we as founders have intense discussions about our mission and plans for the company every time that we assess our progress and challenges. While it is not an easy discussion, it is essential for the life and growth of the company,” says Mabel.

Mabel believes that founders and early team members need to remain resilient and passionate to overcome constant uncertainties and challenges in building a startup.

“Most people will tell you why an idea doesn’t work, and most of the time, they are right. But it is more important to think about how to make something work,” says Mabel.

“Be open-minded enough to accept if a solution or an idea doesn’t work in the end – but only after putting 100% effort into trying to make it work first. On another note, make sure you ask for feedback from the right audience!”

Learn more about EloCare.

Photos by Anton Maksimov juvnsky and Jack B on Unsplash

AI technology reducing discomfort for patients during childbirth.

A traumatic childbirth drives MedTech Actuator alumna, Cailin Ng – CEO and Co-Founder of Singapore-based HiCura Medical – to advance an AI-powered technology that can significantly reduce discomfort and risks for women around the world.

During caesarean birth and vaginal birth women often endure painful repeated needles for spinal anaesthesia, and risk complications such as nerve injury – and in rare cases, paralysis.

HiCura’s artificial intelligence-powered imaging assistant, uSINE reduces pain and risks by delivering spinal anaesthesia in the right location, at the right angle, the first time. One study revealed that doctors were able to achieve a first attempt success rate of 92 per cent using uSINE, far higher than the global first attempt success rate of 50 to 60 per cent.

“Women all over the world choose epidural to relieve their pain during childbirth. I truly hope my technology will help them, so they do not have the traumatic experience I had,” says Cailin.

HiCura joined MedTech Actuator – Asia Pacific’s MedTech, HealthTech and BioTech accelerator in 2020 to connect with Australian hospitals and investor networks. 

“As a startup in Singapore, the MedTech Actuator is helping us to establish important connections in Australia’s MedTech network,” says Cailin.

“We identified Australia as a potential market to expand into, as we saw that the adoption of MedTech innovation in Australia’s hospitals and investor sentiment is very positive. I would definitely recommend MedTech Actuator to other Singapore MedTech startups.”

HiCura’s biggest challenge was commercialisation.

“The MedTech industry is complex with many stakeholders. You have to consider the hospital, doctors, patients, insurance companies, and regulatory compliance,” says Cailin. 

“Unlike any consumer or industrial product where you can ‘test’ the market by selling and revising the product, the route to commercialisation for a MedTech device is a long and arduous one involving clinical trials and regulatory approval.”

The MedTech Actuator supported HiCura through this challenge, and the company has now validated the product and developed a regulatory strategy.

The HiCura team found the experience of being surrounded by a community of MedTech startups on the same journey very valuable.

“Having friends around to listen is very helpful as the world of MedTech startups can be stressful. We could share our joys and frequent challenges,” says Cailin.