Beginner’s Guide on Starting a Life Science Business in Singapore
Many medical professionals or even aspiring ones dream of setting up their own life science businesses. The business is very rewarding as it meets medical needs and helps make human life better. It’s also the career path you can take if you want to lead your own team and direct the groundwork according to your direction. So if you have the expertise, skills, or even an innovative idea to fuel a business venture, then starting a life science business is the one for you.
This article provides the essential information you need to start a life science business in Singapore. Whether you’ve only just taken an interest in the field, are a student taking a life science course, or are a professional, this will guide you in planning and handling startup activities. Here, we give you a beginner’s guide explaining industry practices, business registration, licenses, permits, and other essential matters.
What is a Life Science Business?
The life science sector focuses on the health and medical aspects of life science. It consists of those companies in the fields of biotechnology, pharmaceutical, medical device, nutraceutical, cosmeceutical, and food processing. The goal of these businesses is to create products that improve the lives of living organisms. Particularly, the companies dedicate their resources and efforts to developing and producing treatments, diagnostic tools, and innovations that will enhance or prolong life.
Pharmaceutical companies conduct research, develop, and distribute medications or medical devices. Biotechnology companies also research, create, and manufacture drugs and other medical products but using live organisms or their products (e.g. enzymes). Medical device companies, on the other hand, develop medical instruments to help diagnose, prevent, treat, or monitor medical conditions.
To succeed in this field, you have to primarily have an academic background in the life sciences, such as microbiology, biochemistry, and pharmacology. The most common roles you will see in the field are clinical research associates, scientists, medical science liaisons, and quality assurance consultants. The life science industry is a leader in medical advancements. Therefore, in starting a life science business, you should be a team leader, have a passion for innovation, and possess the ethics required for this kind of job.
Singapore is now considered a biomedical hub with over 6,000 researchers and scientific talents. You can say that there will be tight competition in this industry, but the field is very broad, so there are also many opportunities to scale. Some of the most promising avenues to penetrate the industry are sales, marketing, quality, validation, and process engineering. What this means is that you can start a company providing talents, manpower, facilities, or expertise for other life science companies in Singapore.
What You Need to Start a Life Science Business
Build a Business Model
A business model describes how you will manage and run the organization so that its stakeholders benefit from it. In creating a business model, here are some of the questions you need to answer:
- What is your value proposition?
- Who is your market?
- Why should consumers pay for your products?
- How will your product fit into the patient care process?
You can create your unique business model, or you may adopt an existing life science business model. The important thing is that you can show how you can provide value and deliver it with competence. Valid support like market research data is critical to an effective business model. Creating a good business model can help you ensure substantial funding for your activities.
Look for an Investor
Starting a life science business is costly. Therefore securing investors may be necessary. You can turn to equity investment or crowd-funding strategies to raise funds. Equity investment is basically exchanging ownership of your company (shareholding) for funds to operate the business. Crowdfunding is conceptually the same, only that it is in exchange for unlisted shares. There are equity and crowdfunding platforms you can use to look for interested investors and pitch your idea.
Create a Team
A life science venture cannot function without competent and relevant skills to do the work. In looking for members of your team, make sure that the expertise and skills are related to the endeavor you want to achieve. For example, if your goal is to find and create a cure for breast cancer, you will need someone with pharmacology and drug development qualifications. Additionally, it would be helpful to bring in members from different fields. If you’re on the academic side, be sure to also find experienced entrepreneurs and someone with legal background.
How to Register a Life Science Business in Singapore
Starting a life science business involves a lot of resources and legal matters. So to ensure that your business gets the right protection and opportunities, you need to set it up as a corporation. There are many company forms in Singapore, but the ideal one for starting businesses is a private limited company. This structure allows for better management of risks and gives you opportunities for tax exemption.
To set up a private limited company, you have to register with the Accounting & Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA). In the process, you will be registering an acceptable company name and address. Then you will submit the details of your company directors and shareholders. ACRA requires that there must be at least one director who is a citizen, permanent resident, or an EntrePass holder.
The documents that you will have to furnish are a memorandum and articles of association, a copy of your Singapore identity card (for residents), or a copy of your passport (for foreign entrepreneurs). You will also have to submit a brief description of your business. Within six months from the registration date, you will have to appoint a corporate secretary, and the particulars submitted to ACRA.
Company registration in Singapore is very straightforward and should be easy enough to complete on your own. However, if you think you need more than a simple guide to company registration, you can also acquire professional services. Corporate service providers like 3E Accounting in Singapore specialize in company formation and registration processing on behalf of entrepreneurs. It’s convenient, fast, and stress-free, so you can focus more on other matters like investor or grant hunting.
Licenses, Permits, and Other Regulations to Life Sciences Business
All types of businesses in the life science industry must acquire a license from the Health Sciences Authority in Singapore. A different license is also required for business activities relating to the sale and export of products abroad. You can inquire with the nearest agency, local authority, or corporate service provider near you about the specific licenses you need to acquire.
Moreover, the Health Products Act is the primary legislation that regulates therapeutic products and medical devices in Singapore. It is the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) that governs and oversees the implementation of legislation for the life science industry. HSA also publishes guidelines for the administration of the regulations. So if you have questions or concerns regarding the admissibility of your operations or projects, you may refer to their guidelines or inquire with their officers directly.
Under the Health Products Act, the products that life sciences businesses are classified differently, thus regulated differently. For example, the categories for therapeutic products include prescription-only, pharmacy-only, and general sale list medicines. The regulations for these products depend on their types of marketing authorization.
On a different note, the Health Products (Clinical Trials) Regulations 2016 is a separate legislation for clinical trials. Life sciences businesses can conduct clinical trials only after authorization from HSA and the related Institutional Review Board (IRB). Further, higher-risk clinical trials for therapeutic products need Clinical Trial Authorisation (CTA). Other regulations you need to be familiar with are listed below.
- Health Products (Advertisement of Therapeutic Products) Regulations 2016
- Sale of Drugs Act
- Guideline on the Registration of Human Therapeutic Products Containing Materials of Animal Origin
- Poisons Act
Professional Support to Starting a Singapore Company
Starting a life science business in Singapore is a tough challenge. This endeavor will require sufficient resources and support during startup and in the long run. 3E Accounting Singapore company incorporation services are the answer to your registration and licensing needs. But not only that! The firm is your one-stop solution for all your corporate needs- accounting, taxation, secretarial services, legal, and many more. This is the firm you can trust to support and enable your business for growth.
So don’t wait till you start facing issues in any corporate matter. Contact us today and get in touch with our experts. Put your confidence in 3E Accounting Singapore, and we’ll help gear your business for the vision you want to achieve.