EDB investment arm eyes e-health space with Philips deal

But details remain vague in the partnership signed between Singapore's EDBI and Philips, both of which pledge to provide support to help digital healthcare providers expand into Asia.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor

The investment arm of Singapore's Economic Development Board has partnered Philips to jointly provide relevant skillsets and know-how to help digital healthcare companies expand into Asia.

EDBI said the partnership will see both companies "jointly invest in select, high potential" players in the digital healthcare market, focusing on mid- to late-stage companies. Of specific interest are businesses that develop products and services in population health management, including telehealth, telemonitoring, and healthcare informatics tools.

The agreement would enable these companies to set up base in Singapore, from which they would then support their Asian business. It also would "create business opportunities, advance the local healthcare ecosystem, and strengthen Singapore's position as one of the leading digital health hubs in Asia", according to the joint statement.

Details, however, remained vague regarding how much investment each of the two partners would commit or how many businesses would be supported under this initiative.

In an e-mail reply to ZDNet, a spokesperson said the investment amount would be determined on a case-by-case basis, noting that mid- to late-stage companies with commercial products in the market would benefit most by expanding into Asia. She explained that these businesses also had critical mass in terms of management bandwidth and capabilities that would enable them to address opportunities and challenges that might emerge, such as product localisation.

She added that the two partners had not identified a fixed number of digital health companies in which to invest, and would "jointly decide and agree on investments" based on the company's ability to "drive disruptive innovations" in the identified focus areas within population health management.

The spokesperson said selected companies would be able to tap EDBI's global and regional investment network, as well as its connections to key stakeholders to drive their expansion and developments plans across Asia.

Selected e-healthcare service providers also would be able to co-develop products with Philips and access the latter's global network comprising business and channel partners, and customers. In addition, Philips operates its Asia-Pacific telehealth business from Singapore, where it also runs the country's first pilot telehealth programme for heart patients with Changi General Hospital and Eastern Health Alliance.

The spokesperson further noted that Philips' new office building in the country would house the company's telehealth and healthcare informatics facilities. These eventually would be made accessible to the digital health companies selected under the investment agreement, she said.

They also would be given access to Philips' cloud-based HealthSuite Digital Platform, which collects and analyses healthcare data, as well as receive mentorship from Philips' healthcare experts to help scale their business.

The partnership is signed to span three years, according to the spokesperson.

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