Access to talent, market drives global growth strategy for life science firms

Access to talent and gaining a wider market play have emerged as key drivers for life science companies pursuing a global growth strategy.

“I think funding is actually not the limiting factor. The bottleneck is the availability of talent,” said Xiang Qian (XQ) Lin, CEO of Esco Lifesciences Group. “We have to create a good platform and be able to attract and retain great people.”

At a life science-focused panel discussion – Building global life science champions from Singapore hub – at the recently-concluded Asia PE-VC Summit 2021, XQ Lin and MiRXES co-founder and CEO Lihan Zhou spoke about the challenges and opportunities as they draw up global expansion plans.

Esco Lifesciences closed an oversubscribed $200-million Series A and crossover round in May this year led by Vivo Capital and Novo Holdings. Esco is targeting strategic bolt-on M&As, an accelerated expansion in China and setting up an innovation hub in Boston.

Meanwhile, MiRXES in July raised $77 million in Series C funding led by CR-CP Life Science Fund, a joint venture between China Resources Group and Thailand’s Charoen Pokphand Group.

“Fundraising has been easier, so today, we’re really competing for talent. That’s the key, whether it’s in Singapore, US, or China,” said XQ.

Esco Lifesciences is looking at an accelerated expansion in China, the creation of an innovation hub in Boston, the acquisition of Western technologies and bringing them to the Asian market, as well as an active M&A strategy.

“When we put up a new position, generally, we always go for global search. And because of COVID, we’re no longer restricting ourselves…We are hiring data science teams across the globe,” XQ added.

Meanwhile, MiRXES is looking to use the proceeds to double its global talent pool to 400 staff over the next two years. Most of these hires will be in R&D, data science and commercial teams.

Both companies are headquartered in Singapore, which has earned its spot as a top biotech hub with its vibrant startup culture, strong R&D presence, stability, intellectual property rights protection and governmental support.

The city-state is home to a large cluster of global life science majors such as GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Novartis, Sanofi, AbbVie and Amgen.

Pandemic brings diagnostics to the forefront 

The global healthcare crisis has shifted the focus on technology-based diagnostics and research, according to the panelists.

“The pandemic has definitely accelerated adoption and awareness of genomic technology diagnostics as well as the importance of surveillance not only within a professional ecosystem but in the mass population,” said Zhou.

He also indicated that drug development has attracted most of the funding but now detection would be a game-changer. “There is an opportunity to leverage new technologies, instruments and business models for screening and early disease detection,” Zhou said.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.