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Pharma manufacturing in Singapore gets S$34m boost

A CONSORTIUM agreement valued at S$34 million was inked on Tuesday to drive the transformation of the local pharmaceutical manufacturing industry and to help it gear up for the future economy.

Known as the Pharma Innovation Programme Singapore (PIPS), it is a partnership between the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star), the National University of Singapore (NUS), the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT), and pharma companies GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), MSD International GmbH (Singapore branch), and Pfizer Asia Pacific.

This took place at the inaugural Industrial Transformation Asia-Pacific trade show, where it was witnessed by Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing, A*Star chairman Lim Chuan Poh, and Singapore Economic Development Board chairman Beh Swan Gin.

With the sector facing global pressures on drug pricing and increased competition, the PIPS consortium will focus on increasing productivity and operational efficiency through technology and data analytics.

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More specifically, PIPS will zoom in on areas such as continuous manufacturing, bio-catalysis, advanced process control and process analytical technology, digitalisation, and enhanced pharmaceutical operations.

This will raise the bar for pharma manufacturing, resulting in more sustainable processes and quicker production of active pharmaceutical ingredients that would allow drugs to reach patients faster.

PIPS is also engaging other firms including multinationals, large local enterprises, and small and medium-sized enterprises that are “technology enablers” which can add value.

Tan Sze Wee, executive director, Science & Engineering Research Council, A*Star, said: “Industry 4.0 initiatives such as process automation, smart manufacturing and digitalisation through the Industrial Internet of Things will be test-bedded through PIPS projects.

“We are providing a platform to build a well-connected pharma manufacturing ecosystem that catalyses collaboration and drives the strategic evolution of pharma manufacturing capabilities in Singapore.”

The volatile pharmaceutical manufacturing industry contributes over 3 per cent to Singapore’s gross domestic product. There are around 30 such facilities in Singapore employing more than 7,000 people, with a combined output of around S$17 billion worth of products for global markets.